Author Archives: Maryjoan Ladden

Help Us Find Solutions for Social Isolation

Oct 19, 2017, 2:00 PM, Posted by Maryjoan Ladden

We’re providing a total of $2.5 million in funding, looking for the best ideas from around the world that can address social isolation in the United States.

A teenage boy looks out of a window.

I remember reading the story of a dying patient who, when asked who to call as his life was ending, he replied, “no one.” He had absolutely no immediate family or close friends. Dr. Druv Khullar who wrote the piece noted "the sadness of his death was surpassed only by the sadness of his solitude. I wondered whether his isolation was a driving force of his premature death, not just an unhappy circumstance."

This profoundly sad story struck me to my core.

Not everyone has a social network to call on when they need people by their side. Many people feel disconnected from society and from life, and that contributes to a host of physical, mental and emotional health problems. In fact, according to experts, social isolation is as bad for your health as smoking, obesity, elevated blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

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Five Nurses Share Why They Pursued Research Careers

Jul 19, 2017, 10:00 AM, Posted by Maryjoan Ladden, Susan Hassmiller

Schools with research-focused PhD programs in nursing are now eligible to apply for the Future of Nursing Scholars program. Five trailblazing researchers from the program share how their diverse careers are transforming health care and why others should join them.

 

Caseworker sits with mother and baby on a couch.

As a nurse practitioner at a community health center on Chicago’s West Side, Jewel Scott loved her job, even though helping her patients heal sometimes felt like an uphill battle. Many of her mostly African-American or Latino patients suffered from type 2 diabetes, yet couldn’t afford insulin or struggled to keep appointments due to jobs without flexible schedules. Most had endured difficult childhoods marked by poverty and violence.

One such patient changed the path of Scott’s life. A young woman came in with symptoms of a urinary tract infection. During the visit, Scott discovered that patient had untreated type 2 diabetes—just like her father—and a dangerously high blood sugar level.

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We Went to Oxford and Got Schooled in Primary Care

Apr 23, 2015, 9:00 AM, Posted by Maryjoan Ladden, Susan Mende

As other countries continue to spend far less on health care but perform better on measurable health outcomes, there's opportunity to learn what works abroad and apply those lessons stateside.

It’s a hard notion for many Americans to accept—although we spend more money on health care than any other country in the world, we are far from having the best health outcomes. When you look at measures that include life expectancy, infant mortality rates and preventable illness, other countries that spend far less than the U.S. perform better. But in many of these countries people of all ages and socio-economic status are able to easily access primary care that is comprehensive, patient-centered and rooted in local communities.

One of our goals as program officers at RWJF is to look beyond our borders to identify promising practices that might be incorporated into America’s health care system. Last fall we traveled to Oxford, England, to learn first-hand about promising primary care practices in Chile, England, the Netherlands and Canada—all high and middle income countries that spend less on health care yet have better outcomes than the U.S. We attended a conference organized by the Training and Research Support Centre (TARSC), an organization supported by Charities Aid Foundation of America through a grant from the RWJF Donor-Advised Fund. TARSC provides support and training to government and civic health organizations, and the conference was the next step after its report, “Strengthening primary care in the USA to improve health: Learning from high and middle income countries.” We came away with a lot of insights from both, but were struck by several themes that were constant throughout.

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Field Notes: What Cuba Can Teach Us about Building a Culture of Health

Jan 29, 2015, 9:54 AM, Posted by Maryjoan Ladden, Susan Mende

Ever since President Obama announced the restoration of diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba, there’s been growing excitement over the potential for new opportunities for tourism, as well as technology and business exchanges. Most people assume that the flow will be one-sided, with the United States providing expertise and investment to help Cuba’s struggling economy and decaying infrastructure.

That assumption would be wrong. America can—and already has—learned a lot from Cuba. At RWJF, we support MEDICC, an organization that strives to use lessons gleaned from Cuba’s health care system to improve outcomes in four medically underserved communities in the United States—South Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and the Bronx, N.Y. Even with very limited resources, Cuba has universal medical and dental care and provides preventive strategies and primary care at the neighborhood level, resulting in enviable health outcomes. Cuba has a low infant mortality rate and the lowest HIV rate in the Americas, for example—with a fraction of the budget spent in the United States.

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Primary Care on the Front Lines of Innovation

Sep 23, 2013, 9:00 AM, Posted by Maryjoan Ladden

Maryjoan Ladden, PhD, RN, FAAN, is a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Maryjoan Ladden / RWJF

During a recent visit to my adopted home state of Massachusetts, I took a fresh look at a primary care practice I had previously known only from afar. I was part of the team visiting Cambridge Health Alliance–Union Square Family Health, which is one of 30 primary care practices recognized as exemplar models for workforce innovation by The Primary Care Team: Learning From Effective Ambulatory Practices (LEAP) project. This project, a new initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the MacColl Center at Group Health Research Institute, is studying these 30 practice sites to identify new strategies in workforce development and interprofessional collaboration. The overarching goal of LEAP is to better understand the innovative models that make primary care more efficient, effective, and satisfying to both patients and providers, and ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes.

This site visit took me back to my time as a nurse practitioner at Boston Medical Center, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, and Boston’s school-based health centers. This is where my passion for primary care began. As we prepare for millions more Americans to enter the health care system in the coming year, we must identify ways to expand access to primary care, improve the quality of care, and control costs. One important way is by exploring how to optimize the varied and expansive skill sets of all members of the primary care team. This idea has been examined in medical and popular media, but there has been little study of the workforce innovations employed by primary care practices to meet the increasing demands for health care.

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First in a Series: The Imperative for Interprofessional Education

May 17, 2011, 2:29 PM, Posted by Maryjoan Ladden

On May 10, the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) released two groundbreaking reports that recommend competencies for interprofessional health education to promote collaborative, team-based care, and strategies to implement them. This post is the first in a series in which the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF’s) Human Capital Blog speaks to leaders of this initiative. The first interview is with RWJF senior program officer Maryjoan Ladden, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.

Human Capital Blog: What matters most about the report you released last week?

Maryjoan Ladden: It provides a real roadmap for the change we need in health professions education, in order to make real a vision of interdisciplinary health care that is more patient-centered, higher quality and safer.

This report wasn’t created by just one organization or person, or by just one group. It results from a collaborative effort between government, funders, educators, health system leaders, providers—all of whom recognized that something fundamental needs to change in the way we are educating health care professionals.

Beyond issuing this report, we all stand ready to play a role in making that change. That’s why we didn’t just issue a report detailing core competencies but rather, a second piece with strategies for action to ensure that they are widely used. To me, that is exciting because, as a nurse practitioner I’ve seen first-hand the challenges associated with collaboration – especially when health professionals are thrown together for the first time in a busy practice setting and have to work together without any preparation to do so. And I know too well the harm to patients when their health care providers do not work well together. We need to turn that around and we need to do it now.

HCB: How do you want to see it used?

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