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Highlighting MCH Workforce Development

The Division of MCH Workforce Development (DMCHWD) addresses current and emerging MCH workforce needs by engaging with and providing support to MCH leaders in practice, academics, and policy. This month, DMCHWD is pleased to share highlights on MCH Workforce Development.


The DMCHWD Welcomes the 2021 Trainee Ambassador Group!

The 2021 Trainee Ambassador Group (TAG) is composed of the following ten (10) current and former MCH trainees:

  • Alana Cordeiro, MCH Public Health Catalyst
  • Bevyn Mannke, MCH Public Health Catalyst
  • Osmari Novoa, MCH Public Health Catalyst
  • Valerie Aalo, Centers of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health (CoE)
  • Joyce Afueh, Centers of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health (CoE)
  • Nichole Waltrich, Centers of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health (CoE)
  • Jessica Garcia, Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH)
  • Alexandra Vohs, Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND)
  • Sa'Nealdra Wiggins, MCH Nutrition
  • Karissa Avignon, MCH Pipeline

The goals of the TAG are to foster connections between trainees across the MCH Training Program, provide trainees with leadership development opportunities, and strengthen the link between trainees and MCHB. Ambassadors attend monthly virtual meetings and work collaboratively to create trainee-focused products. For more information, please visit the TAG webpage.


MCH Timeline websiteMCH Timeline

The MCH Timeline highlights significant events and achievements in MCH history, including the first state program for children with special health needs in 1893, the launch of MCH ethnocultural initiatives in 1988, and the establishment of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program in 2010. Learn about these points in history and more on the MCH Timeline.

Program Highlights

The MCH Navigator Supports Workforce Development with Two Online Learning Programs

SMART Learning for the MCH Workforce

The MCH Navigator has developed a "micro-reflection" program to assist the MCH workforce focus on learning during COVID-19 and is also launching a new certificate program to be unveiled during the AMCHP annual conference in May 2021.

MCH 20|20: Throughout 2020, the MCH Navigator asked the MCH workforce a series of 20 questions to jump-start learning and sharpening of skills. Understanding that 2020 was a year of unparalleled stress and workloads, the goal was to aggregate what new skills professionals need and how they are honing those skills. The Navigator team listened and provided trainings to address emerging needs. These questions, responses, and resources are now available in one place. Learners can take a 5-minute break, read and reflect on one or more of the questions, see how others in the field are addressing the same issue, and access trainings to learn more. Find all the questions, responses, and resources here.

MCHsmart: the Navigator's upcoming certificate program is a comprehensive 12-hour online learning course.  The curriculum includes three sections: (1) a self-reflection section that requires users to demonstrate knowledge and skills through a pre-test; (2) a learning section consisting of a deep-dive into the MCH Leadership Competencies, sub-competencies and related implementation strategies; and (3) a sharing section that requires users to take a post-test and write a blog post that details their learning journey.

Visit the MCH Navigator website to learn more about these programs and continue strengthening your knowledge and skills.

 


Grantee Highlights

Healthy farm share grocery boxes provided for early childhood center students and families experiencing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Manhattan

Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program New York Presbyterian Hospital Choosing Healthy and Active Lifestyles for Kids (NYP CHALK JR)

SMART Learning for the MCH Workforce

The community of Northern Manhattan was hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fall-out. When NYP CHALK Jr's early childhood center partners closed their doors to observe COVID-19 precautions, we worked with our wellness champions at each site to continue supporting young children and families as the community's needs and priorities changed. In partnership with Corbin Hill Food Project and West Side Campaign Against Hunger, we provided healthy grocery boxes monthly to 211 families between April and December 2020. We began with a central distribution at a community center, and then launched an onsite distribution at Rena Day Care Center, training Rena's staff to screen for food insecurity and run a safe, appointment-based emergency food distribution program. The success of this initiative stems from the clinical-community partnerships built through the Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program. Our CHALK Jr food insecurity response will continue into 2021.


Maine Pediatric and Behavioral Health Partnership

Maine Pediatric and Behavioral Health Partnership (MPBHP) is a recent recipient of one of HRSA's grants to develop a Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) Program in the state of Maine.

The Mission of MPBHP is to educate, support and empower pediatric care providers through training and ongoing web-based and telephonic consultations with behavioral health providers, thereby improving access to behavioral health expertise for children and families.

The vision of MPBHP is to foster, support, and enhance the children's behavioral health system of care throughout Maine, especially in rural and medically underserved areas.

MPHBP addresses current and emerging MCH workforce needs by engaging with and providing support to pediatric clinical providers by increasing timely detection, assessment, treatment, and referral of children and adolescents with behavioral health disorders in pediatric care settings; by improving access to behavioral health care for children and adolescents, especially in rural and underserved areas; by increasing knowledge of pediatric behavioral health through continuing education/ training and resources for healthcare providers; by increasing access to resources for families and communities and by sustaining strategies and interventions that are effective in improving practice.


Capacity Building Coaches Hone Skills with Motivational Interviewing Training

SMART Learning for the MCH WorkforceAdolescent Health Initiative, Midwest Adolescent Health Project (Building the Capacity for Adolescent-Centered Health Care in Rural Communities in HHS Region V)

Most people are familiar with Motivational Interviewing (MI) as an approach for helping clients or patients strengthen their motivation for change. The team at Michigan Medicine's Adolescent Health Initiative (AHI) has often encouraged staff and providers who participate in their Adolescent-Centered Environment Assessment Process (ACE-AP) to use MI skills. The goal is to create supportive environments that allow youth to disclose risk behaviors and then improve their commitment to change. However, the team found themselves wondering if these same MI skills could support them as capacity building coaches when working with health center staff on making adolescent-centered changes to their clinics.

Working with a certified trainer from the Motivational Interview Network of Trainers, the AHI team, along with the recently-trained ACE-AP coaches from the Midwest Adolescent Health Project , participated in an 8-hour training to hone and adapt Motivational Interviewing skills for their work with health centers participating in the ACE-AP. Coaches found that many of the MI skills were a perfect fit for their work. Strategies like maintaining a spirit of collaboration, compassion, acceptance and evocation; asking open-ended questions, affirming, reflecting and summarizing; and identifying change versus sustain talk, among many others. The whole experience encouraged the coaches to explore how to better support and motivate their ACE-AP sites who, in turn, will provide even better care to adolescent patients. To learn more about the Midwest Adolescent Health Project please visit AHI's website .


Building a Professional Cohort to Tackle Indiana's Maternal and Child Health Needs

SMART Learning for the MCH WorkforceIndiana University School of Public Health MCH Catalyst Program Trustees of Indiana University - Dr. Cecilia S. Obeng (PD)

The Program has awarded diverse student fellowships, which has enabled the students to take the MCH Foundational course. The MCH program faculty, led by the Program Director, Professor Cecilia Obeng, has developed MCH courses as part of a proposed Graduate Certificate curriculum. The Foundational course has been designed to meet the requirements of the new Maternal and Child Health concentration within our School of Public Health.

Our graduate students have expressed delight about the course content of this new MCH concentration, given its professional and academic importance. The students' interests range from sudden infant death syndrome (a leading cause of infant mortality in the US), to maternal mortality, maternal and child well-being immediately after birth, immigrants' health, as well as breaking down the stigma of trauma and other experiences that contribute to mental health.

Professor McCluskey, a Senior Program personnel, has developed a course on Violence against Women; this course highlights the important topic of gender-based violence and how this influences women's health across the life-course. This important MCH course also provides information on other forms of violence, such as female-selected infanticide, intimate partner violence, and femicide.  Furthermore, the course extensively covers and interrogates the impact of violence on women's reproductive health, physical & sexual health, as well as mental health.

These curricular developments are significantly important, given that they have collaborative support from other Title V programs via the provision of guest lectures and experiential learning opportunities to better prepare the next generation of MCH professionals.  Our courses are designed and delivered with an exclusive objective of giving student trainees essential research skills and professional knowledge that will help them acquire expertise in cultural congruency to enable them to become successful upon completion of their training. Thus, our curriculum is customized to give student trainees the needed skills to meet the challenges faced by the MCH population in the 21st Century.


Harvard Center of Excellence Students Apply Real-World Evaluation Training to National Indian Health Board

Harvard University MCH Center of Excellence

SMART Learning for the MCH WorkforceEach year, Harvard University's MCH Center of Excellence conducts a winter session Program Evaluation course run in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs. The course provides students and staff of state health departments with a short course in program evaluation and reward them with valuable real-world experience and training at various public health agencies.

In 2020, the National Indian Health Board approached the CDC with a research proposal for a tribally led Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC). The idea stems from a few shortcomings in the traditional MMRC model as applied to American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities. Most MMRCs are hosted by individual states, and the boilerplate model lacks sufficient attention to cultural practices, historical traumas, and social determinants of health of AIAN communities. Two students from the Harvard T.H. Chan School were matched with the team of the National Indian Health Board. Guided by a respect for tribal sovereignty and the diversity, values, and histories of tribal communities, the students proposed a three-part logic model for establishing, developing, and ensuring the long-term sustainability of tribally-based MMRCs. The model holds the values of respect for tribal sovereignty and respect for tribal diversity, history, and traditions central to its functioning, such that the logic model for tribally-led MMRCs depends on them. It leaves space for iterative change, such that it can grow with changing social, political, and environmental dynamics. Implementation for the evaluation proposal will be initiated and supported by NIHB. This project is made possible by a combination of funding and support from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau Title V grants and the CDC. The aim of this evaluation model is to reduce AIAN mortality and morbidity resulting in healthier communities overall.


Maryland Behavioral Health Integration in Pediatric Primary Care (BHIPP)

Telepsychiatry Access Program

Established in 2012, Maryland Behavioral Health Integration in Pediatric Primary Care (BHIPP) is a statewide program funded by the Maryland Department of Health that supports pediatric primary care providers in addressing and managing mental health concerns. BHIPP offers telephone consultation, resource and referral networking, a variety of training and educational opportunities, and social work co-location in primary care practices in collaboration with Salisbury University and Morgan State University.  

As a recipient of a HRSA Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) Program grant, BHIPP launched Maryland Behavioral Health Integration in Pediatric Primary Care Telepsychiatry Access Program (BHIPP TAP). The goal of BHIPP TAP is to increase the availability and accessibility of pediatric behavioral health treatment through the following activities:

Telemental Health Services including telepsychiatry evaluation and medication management, tele-counseling, and care coordination services via secure videoconferencing.

BHIPP TeleECHO to deliver monthly specialized interactive, web-based training and technical assistance to both primary care providers and mental health specialists statewide using the ECHO model™.

Partnership with Mental Health Association of Maryland (MHAMD), Maryland's only volunteer nonprofit citizens organization bringing together consumers, families, professionals, advocates, and concerned citizens for unified action in all aspects of behavioral health. Through this partnership, MHAMD and BHIPP have developed and distributed Telemental Health Fact Sheets for providers, families, and teens/youth that are available for download in both English and Spanish (see below).

Telemental Health for Providers

Telemental Health for Families

Telemental Health for Families (Spanish)

Telemental Health for Teens & Youth

Telemental Health for Teens & Youth (Spanish)

Covid-19 Response

BHIPP hosts monthly Resilience Break webinars aimed at promoting provider resiliency and we continue to identify topics and collaborate with local partners, including our local Maryland AAP Chapter, to meet the needs of primary care providers statewide. Additional resources specific to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on our website .

For additional information, please visit www.mdbhipp.org or contact Chelsie Ader at cader@som.umaryland.edu.


Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Child Collaborative Care- Connect

MC3-Connect Partners with the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to Train Primary Care Providers on Screening for Suicide in Youth

The Michigan Child Collaborative Care Program (MC3) provides access to mental health consultation for primary care providers (PCPs) treating children, youth and perinatal women. In 2018 the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services was awarded a Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program expansion grant to expand the services provided by MC3 to the rural Upper Peninsula and Thumb Region, and school-based Child and Adolescent Health Centers. One goal of MC3-Connect is to enhance provider capacity for screening. To address this goal, MC3-Connect partnered with the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to offer virtual Adolescent Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Trainings to pediatricians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and medical assistants. Trainings included information on how to screen for behavioral health and substance use in youth (i.e., depression, anxiety, alcohol use, and suicide risk). There were 71 total participants across six trainings. Two trainings occurred in the Upper Peninsula and four trainings occurred in the Thumb region. Groups ranged from 7 to 20 participants. Participants were eligible for 20 performance improvement Continuing Medical Education credits, and 25 Maintenance of Certification credits.

MC3-Connect is Educating the "Next Generation" of Primary Care Providers.

The Michigan Child Collaborative Care Program (MC3) provides access to mental health consultation for primary care providers (PCPs) treating children, youth and perinatal women. In 2018 the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services was awarded a Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program expansion grant to expand the services provided by MC3 to the rural Upper Peninsula and Thumb Region. Part of this expansion includes establishing a partnership between the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human services. Within this partnership, Michigan State University partners Zakia Alavi, MD, and Jane Turner, MD, have taken on the lead of educating the "Next Generation" of primary care providers on topics related to pediatric behavioral health.


Boston LEAH faculty at Boston Children's Hospital and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health Create Online Education for Primary Care Providers to promote Early Detection and Prevention of Eating Disorders (ED's) through the Strategic Training Initiative for Prevention Eating Disorders (STRIPED): A Public Health Incubator

STRIPED website

Bryn Austin, ScD

STRIPED Principle Investigator
Boston Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) Faculty

Boston LEAH faculty Bryn Austin, ScD, Kendrin Sonneville RD, ScD (LEAH graduate and faculty, now at U Michigan), Tracy Richmond MD, MPH (LEAH graduate and faculty), and colleagues have created a national resource for research, education, and policy. STRIPED spans the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HCSPH) and Boston Children's Hospital LEAH program and AYA Division and provides TA, curricula, and grants to faculty and trainees, universities, health departments, and professional societies to prevent eating disorders. STRIPED faculty train health professionals and students in public health approaches to eating disorders prevention across SES and racial/ethnic groups and work with clinical faculty on the early detection of ED's in primary care practices and lessening weight stigma. Over the past several years, there has been a growing call for clinical training for pediatric primary care providers focused on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of eating disorders in children, adolescents, and young adults, as well as how to perform screening and appropriately refer patients to specialized care. To answer this call, STRIPED has created a free online education program for clinicians in primary care settings. Drs. Sara Forman (LEAH faculty and Clinical Chief) and Holly Gooding (LEAH graduate and previous LEAH faculty, now Section Head of Adolescent Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine) teamed up to create the webinar which is offered in 2 modes – a one hour webinar and an 8 week course, with spaced questions.


Building Capacity to Improve Pediatric Asthma Outcomes in Urban, Under-resourced Communities

ECHO-Chicago at the University of Chicago, a Healthy Tomorrows Grantee

Extension for Community Health Outcomes - Chicago (ECHO-Chicago) is an innovative workforce development model that aims to improve access to high quality primary care and reduce health care disparities in underserved communities. Using Zoom, ECHO-Chicago creates a virtual space for community-based primary care providers and subject matter experts (in our case: pulmonologist, nurse practitioner, case manager, and patient family member) from academic medical centers to learn from each other and discuss practical strategies for implementing evidence-based practices. Unlike a webinar, providers actively participate by presenting their own deidentified patient cases on which they receive "telementoring" from their peers and subject matter experts.

With support from the HRSA Health Tomorrows program, since 2016 ECHO-Chicago used this model to build community capacity to better address complex pediatric asthma. It started with a 12-session series for health care providers that builds skills in asthma diagnosis, treatment, symptom control, and management of co-morbidities. To date, this program has trained nearly 100 providers from more than 70 health clinic sites. We have observed a significant increase in provider self-efficacy post-series as compared to baseline (average increase of 0.7 points on a 7-point Likert scale; p<0.0001). Providers have also self-reported changes they have made to their practice as a result of participating, including:

  • Paying greater attention to home/environmental factors
  • Assessing and re-assessing patient inhaler technique at each visit and increasing patient education
  • Using the Asthma Control Test (ACT) to monitor disease progression
  • Ordering spirometry and pulmonary function tests (PFTs) more often
  • Increased use of asthma action plans

This past year, with funding from the Coleman Foundation, ECHO-Chicago expanded training to families with children living with asthma. Co-led by a pulmonary nurse practitioner and community health workers, the 7-session pilot series focused on building the knowledge and skills of parents and caregivers to manage asthma attacks, recognize environmental triggers, understand asthma medications, and dispel common asthma misconceptions. Participants self-reported key takeaways: learning how to keep their child calm during an asthma attack, how to use different asthma medications, and green cleaning. Using lessons learned from the pilot, we plan to train a second group in 2021.


Delivering Integrated Team Care to Positively Impact the Lives of Transition Age Youth

The Achievable Foundation, a Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program

The Achievable Foundation's Whole Person Care Project (WPCP) focuses on delivering behavioral health services integrated into a primary care setting in order to address the mental health, physical health and social-emotional needs of children, youth and young adults. The WPCP targets underserved children and youth in Los Angeles County, with a special emphasis on the most vulnerable transition age youth (TAY) living with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD). Through this project, children, youth and young adults have access to a multidisciplinary care team, which includes primary care physicians, therapists, a psychiatrist and care coordinators, who work together to address and treat patients in a whole-person manner. The multidisciplinary team also works with a patient's social and educational support team members to help ensure a patient is successful and independent in all domains of their lives. This team-based care model is especially important for TAY with I/DD who traditionally face significant challenges with transition into adulthood and independence, including higher rates of anxiety and mental health issues.

An example of how the WPCP has positively impacted participants is that of James English (name changed for privacy). James, a TAY patient of the WPCP for several years, lives with Autism Spectrum Disorder and receives services from the local regional center (a state contracted agency providing case management and social supports to individuals with I/DD). James struggles with anxiety, problems with self-esteem and interpersonal relationships. He is generally independent, and receives weekly support to ensure his health and safety. In the past, James has experienced an aversion to completing medical treatment, such as having laboratory work done, and he has struggled with getting access to mental health services for his unique needs.

Since joining the WPCP, James has made significant positive progress. The care team has utilized desensitization and other special techniques to help lower James' anxiety levels with regards to medical care, and ensure that he receives the care he needs to stay healthy. Further, for the past 9 months, James has been receiving cognitive behavioral therapy. James' treatment goals are to decrease symptoms of anxiety, increase his level of independence, and learn skills to build healthy relationships. James' progress is continuously monitored by the interdisciplinary WPCP care team and his regional center support team. Recently, James was accepted to the local 4-year California State University. The first semester was difficult for James because he experienced decreased self-esteem as he was confronted with the ways in which his learning style is different. Nonetheless, with ongoing therapy and support through the WPCP, he overcame these challenges and is continuing on to the next semester. With help through this transition, and a care team to support his health and growth, James hopes to one day achieve his dream of becoming a video game programmer. James is naturally mechanically and technically savvy, and we are confident he is on his way to achieving his dreams.

 

Trainee Highlights

Trainee Ambassador Group"Time with TAG"

Brittany Crollett, LMSW

Pediatric Pulmonary Center (PPC) – University of New Mexico

During the completion of my master's degree in Social Work at New Mexico State University, I had the amazing opportunity to serve as a Pediatric Pulmonary Center (PPC) trainee with the University of New Mexico (UNM).  My role as a PPC trainee introduced me to a medical home model which allows patients to be the center of care; for example at UNM's PPC a pediatric patient can have multiple specialist visits at one appointment instead of needing to make multiple appointments with various clinics.  This model is exceptional for interprofessional collaborative care for a patient.  The time I spent as a PPC trainee was a remarkable experience that provided so many opportunities to learn and practice skills related to leadership: from presenting at the national MCHB PPC conference; providing direct social work services to patients and their families; directly practicing interprofessional collaboration with trainees of disciplines other than my own; engaging with and better understanding the legislative system; and the opportunity to learn about the multitude of MCHB affiliates.

As a social worker, I strive to connect people to resources. While serving as a member of the Trainee Ambassador Group (TAG), I have had the ability to practice the related skills for connecting fellow past and present MCHB trainees to the information about several post-trainee options to connect with one another as well as utilize the assistance programs offered by HRSA.  Following the completion of my degree and license requirements I began my first year as a professional social worker and served as a member of the TAG.  As a TAG member I was appointed to the social media committee.  The committee was encouraged to shape the role as it had not fully been established prior.  The committee was comprised of three trainees, including myself and we appointed ourselves Social Media Directors.  We developed posts related to Maternal and Child Health initiatives across three social media platforms which included each Social Media Director learning about HRSA assistance programs and sharing the information.  Furthermore, each Social Media Director encouraged their local MCHB trainee alumni to join the MCHB groups to expand the MCHB's social media activity.  The year 2020 presented numerous unprecedented events which added complexity to our roles but working with one another helped to solidify our sense of community as MCHB professionals.  As Social Media Directors we established the role of Social Media Ambassadors and enlisted multiple current MCHB trainees as volunteers for the position.  In preparation for the next cohort of TAG trainees, we generated example posts, created a video tutorial and documented a timeline of posts the Social Media Committee made over the year.  My role as TAG member has expanded my knowledge about the various types of assistance that HRSA offers to its trainees after completion of their internships and it has helped me to increase my skills in connecting professionals in an increasingly socially distanced and more virtual environment. 


Jessica Garcia, MPH, RDN, LDN

Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) – University of Alabama at Birmingham

Though we have all likely struggled through parts of 2020 we must not forgo the monumental strides we have made as individuals. I was provided the opportunity to dive into the Trainee Ambassador Group (TAG) while completing my Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) Training Program with the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I took this as an opportunity to make new connections with fellow trainees and learn and build upon skills that would help me in my career. I finished the LEAH program in June and promptly accepted a Registered Dietitian role at Alsana which serves as an Eating Disorder Community. Developing skills as a leader and teammate within the TAG community allowed me to contribute greater strengths to my role in my newfound job. Spear-heading a new path for the Social Media Committee drove me to increase conceptualization of ideas and best ways to put them into action. These skills allowed me to envision and create new programs within my role as a Dietitian and helped me shine in my profession. The newfound friendships are some of the best I've made and I couldn't be more grateful for the time the TAG has given me to learn, grow and thrive. 


Michelle Ubah

MCH Pipeline – University of Wisconsin-Madison

My experience with MCH began in 2018 with the Kennedy Krieger Institute, where I served as a as a Maternal Child Health – Leadership, Education, Advocacy, and Research Network (MCH-LEARN) trainee. Through this program, I was blessed to conduct a research project under Dr. Andrea Cimino at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. My project was focused on intimate partner violence and reproductive coercion and the effects on preterm pregnancy among African American women in Baltimore. I had the opportunity to hear from women who have experienced intimate partner violence and offered them resources to help them out of that situation. This is program that ignited my passion for maternal and child health which has led me to pursue a Master of Public Health at the University of Michigan. This opportunity opened so many doors for me within maternal and child health. I've worked on numerous public health initiatives including breastfeeding, safe sleep etc. I have also conducted extensive research on pregnancy in the US and Foreign countries which led me to becoming a Birth Doula through DONA. I have also been opportune to present my research in over 6 different conferences including Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS).

One of my favorite parts about being a part of TAG is connecting with fellow MCH trainees from other programs. Being in undergrad at the university of Wisconsin Madison, it was often hard for me to find people that had the same interest as me. Through TAG, I have connected and learned from leaders and experts all over the country. Seeing people from different backgrounds come together working towards one common goal which is to better the health outcomes for mothers and children filled my heart. Although this year has been tough, we have not lost sight of our vision and goals for the MCH population.


Vanessa A. Vassall

MCH Public Health Catalyst – Florida International University

My experience in the 2019-2020 cohort of the Trainee Ambassador Group has been a well-rounded, fulfilling experience that promoted professional networking and leadership development. Although I have participated in many Maternal and Child Health internship and fellowship experiences, TAG was unique in its ability to contextualize the relevance of experience-based training to the maternal and child health workforce.

Over the past year, I participated in two TAG committees, which truly enhanced and increased my overall engagement with the TAG. On the MLC Committee, I worked with two other TAG members to develop the annual plenary session during the "Making Lifelong Connections" conference, which was held remotely this year due to COVID-19. I gained much from the initial planning stages with TAG leadership and my fellow TAG cohort mates due to the frequent brainstorming and strategy meetings which were collaborative and productive. Working with TAG leadership and other TAG members with different academic and professional backgrounds led to an increase in my professional capacities and communication skills.
When approached with the initial challenge of adapting our MLC session planning from in-person activities to an abridged virtual program, our committee worked diligently to problem-solve and ensure the final interactive session was informative, exciting, and, ultimately, successful. I was able to apply my propensity for organization, flexibility, attention to detail, interpersonal engagement, being a team player, and public speaking to ensure that my team's contributions to MLC were executed without a hitch.

The second TAG committee I had the pleasure of serving on was the 2021 Application Review Committee. Reflecting on my own application cycle, I had identified areas of improvement that would have made submitting a successful TAG application simpler. I was elated to have the opportunity to revise several aspects of the application before it went live. The most evident improvement made was transitioning to a fillable website application. This allowed for clearer instructions for the applicants and the recommenders, easier navigation through the application by the applicants, and a more streamlined experience for the recommenders. It was of utmost importance to make it as easy as possible for the recommenders to submit their supporting materials. The revised application materials were also conducive to increased efficiency in response collection and scoring among TAG application reviewers. The Application Review Committee met regularly to review draft versions of the new application which was finalized for the 2020-2021 TAG application cycle. Being given the opportunity to suggest ideas for ways to make the TAG application more concise and easy to complete, I was able to contribute to such an important component of the TAG that can be used and reused for years to come. The 2019-2020 TAG was a very valuable experience!

Liesl Windsor, MD

Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics Fellow – Boston Children's Hospital

The Advocating Success for Kids (ASK) Program at Boston Children's Hospital aims to provide subspecialty support within the primary care setting for children who have learning, developmental and behavioral challenges. As a developmental medicine fellow, I have had the privilege of working in the ASK Program with a multidisciplinary team comprised of social workers, educational specialists, and psychologists who are all committed to providing a largely underserved population with access to community resources. While I imagine that this program is an invaluable source of support for our children and their families, it has also had a significant impact on me as a pediatrician, a trainee, and a human being. My patients and colleagues have taught me how to be both vulnerable and resilient. I have learned to be both collaborative and to be confrontational. During a time when inequities in treatment and access have been amplified, I have had to become very comfortable with difficult conversations that were important but underemphasized prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. At times I have felt truly helpless, but I have also seen how an empathetic ear can itself be a balm for hopelessness.

Participating in the ASK Program has afforded me with unique opportunities to serve and to share. We serve our patients by bridging the gaps between parents and children, families and schools, clients and therapists. We share our subspecialist skills by offering teaching and consultations to colleagues in primary care who are committed to providing more holistic care for their patients. Through monthly Community Advocacy Rounds (CAR), trainees in developmental medicine receive lectures and participate in case-based discussions focused on equipping the next generation of clinicians to advocate for the success for all children. While I initially chose to remain involved in the ASK Program for the benefit of my patients, this experience has irrevocably changed the way I practice medicine and the person I aspire to be.


Erik Su, MD

Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) Fellow - Children's Hospital Los Angeles

As the saying goes, "it takes a village to raise a child." In our work as pediatricians and adolescent medicine physicians, it often takes an entire multidisciplinary team working closely together with families to help our patients achieve the best results. However, throughout my training as a physician, I have not often had a chance to experience and appreciate this level of teamwork.

At Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), during my adolescent medicine fellowship, I have been able to be a part of the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) program, which is funded by Maternal Child Health (MCH). The program has put me in contact with trainees across a variety of disciplines, including nursing, social work, psychology, and dietetics. We collaborate weekly on challenging patient cases and learn from each other, and everyone has a chance to lead a clinic team and present on their areas of expertise. One of the most rewarding projects I was able to work on through LEAH was an advocacy project on one of my interests, aimed at obtaining funding for eating disorder care for our most underserved patients in California. With help and support from LEAH faculty, the project introduced me to the processes behind advocacy from the micro to the macro scale, as well as how time-consuming and challenging it can be to create change. Delivering an advocacy road map and an advocacy fact sheet was our final product, but working with other inspiring, passionate individuals was the best part.

The lessons I've learned from LEAH have become a solid foundation to draw from as I prepare to take the next step in my career. I feel more prepared than ever to lead, to educate, and to collaborate with colleagues from all disciplines to continue to advocate and advance the health of our most vulnerable youth.


Elikem Togo

MCH Catalyst Trainee – Drexel University

This past summer, as a 1st year MCH trainee at Drexel University's MCH Catalyst program, I had the pleasure of working as a Title V intern with the Wisconsin Division of Public Health. It was a great opportunity for me to gain practical MCH experience in a government setting, and work with an interdisciplinary team of MCH experts. I worked with another intern, and we collaborated on three main projects: a state-wide MCH database, a social media strategy plan, and a community feedback survey. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the internship was conducted entirely online. However, despite not being in person, I gained valuable MCH policy and practical skills.

One skill I was able to hone as a Title V intern was health communication, as it was a key factor in each of our projects, particularly for the social media strategy plan and the community feedback survey. During week 2 of the internship, one of my preceptors swiftly put together a work group of other MCH staff to assist me and my partner with social media content creation and our dissemination plan. In addition to having a social media plan, we created a low-tech dissemination plan to ensure equitable access to the material that would be shared online. The work group provided helpful feedback and creative suggestions on how best to reach some of the state's most isolated and rural communities. Through the work group, I also learned about how to create social media content that is readable and visible to anyone experiencing color vision deficiency. This insight helped me and my partner ensure we were creating the social media posts that could be understood by anyone, no matter their abilities.

As a Title V intern, I learned first-hand about MCH practice, policy, and inter-disciplinary collaboration. I hope to use the skills I gained during the internship in a Doctoral MCH program, and ultimately in an MCH research career. I look forward to applying my MCH skills to future opportunities – both virtual, and in person.


Jennifer Crawford, M.S.Ed

LEND Fellow - UT Health LoneStar LEND

Jennifer Crawford, M.S. Ed, a LoneStar LEND Fellow with the McGovern Medical School, Houston, TX.    A lifetime learner, Mrs. Crawford is delighted to be a part of the 10-month interdisciplinary training model,   she continues to execute her knowledge and skills in the field of autism spectrum disorder and other neurodevelopmental disabilities as an advocate and leader in the field.

Dr. Pauline A. Filipek,  is a true representation of the MCH competency of developing others through teaching, coaching, and mentoring.   As part of the LoneStar LEND training model, all trainees take part in a leadership workshop titled Interprofessional Leadership Learning Collaborative (ILLC) that brings together collaborating Universities and professionals in the field of autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities to engage the LEND fellows in the MCH Leadership Competencies. 

As a participant of the leadership workshop, it could be intimidating with all the faculty with their degrees and knowledge, but each faculty made the trainees feel welcomed and valued.   Judy Blake, a LoneStar LEND Board and Faculty member is being quoted as saying,  " It was very important to me to make sure the trainees knew that NO question, NO comment, NO feeling was silly!"

An objective of the leadership workshop was for the LEND fellows to begin to understand leadership styles and how one's personality can affect it.  As stated by Deborah A. Pearson, Ph.D., Professor, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, "Leadership Weekend is an especially important part of the LoneStar LEND training because it teaches LEND fellows that there are many types of leadership models, and what strengths and challenges are associated with their personality profiles."

To be a leader yourself you must be open to change and learn how to lead others ethically and the MCH Competencies allow this.  Self reflection during and after the conference on ones understanding of their cultural biases, past experiences, and values and how it can influence future actions, is a key point of the MCH Competency on self reflection.

Annie Lee, LEND fellow at the event began to realize the power of developing one's leadership skills through the self reflection;  "Powerful leadership is assessing my strengths, being honest" to build relationships and lead in the community. 


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