The Division of MCH Workforce Development (DMCHWD) supports improved maternal and child health through investing in interdisciplinary education and training in disciplines such as developmental-behavioral pediatrics, nutrition, pediatric pulmonology, family, psychology, social work, speech-language pathology, adolescent medicine, and public health. This month, DMCHWD shares interdisciplinary highlights from across the network.
We need your innovative idea for a health issue affecting moms & kids! MCHB Grand Challenges will award up to $1.5 million in prize awards across four competitions:
DMCHWD recently released an updated fact sheet to highlight the ways it provides national leadership and direction in educating and training our nation’s future leaders in maternal and child health. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, DMCHWD awarded 161 grants, an investment of approximately $47 million. These grants develop trainees for leadership roles in MCH teaching, research, clinical practice, and public health administration and policy making. They also support community-based partnerships and collaborations to improve the health status of disadvantaged children, youth, and their families nationwide.
DMCHWD is excited to announce the release of the fourth edition of the MCH Leadership Competencies, First released in 2007, the MCH Leadership Competencies support current and future MCH leaders by defining the knowledge and skills necessary to lead in this field, thus unifying a field made up of a multitude of disciplines.
The MCH Training programs in Wisconsin (Pipeline, LEND, and PPC) partnered with a community-initiated program, Strong Baby Sanctuary, to host and participate in the first annual Shared Day of Learning. The Strong Baby program works to reduce infant mortality in the Milwaukee zip codes with the highest rates of infant mortality by training community facilitators from faith-based organizations to become sanctuaries of support for vulnerable pregnant mothers and mothers with newborns. Over 60 MCH trainees/faculty and 40 community members from 30 sanctuaries participated in this interdisciplinary day-long event. Programming included panels of mothers and Sanctuary facilitators who provided real-life stories of community challenges and successes, epidemiologists from the City of Milwaukee Health department, a speaker from WIC who also introduced an integrated early literacy program for the Sanctuaries, and interdisciplinary MCH student panels that provided training for community members on early nutrition for moms and babies, transitioning from bottle to cup, early play, and CDC resources for early developmental milestones.
To kick off the event, MCH trainees from across the three programs had conducted diaper drives on their respective campuses and then came together on the morning of the event to organize these supplies for distribution to the Sanctuary sites. The development and evaluation of this event was framed by the (pre-2018) MCH Leadership Competencies including: knowledge base, ethics and professionalism, critical thinking, communication, cultural competence, family-centered care, interdisciplinary team building, and policy and advocacy. Feedback from community and Sanctuary members included appreciation for information that "allows us to go back and help the young mothers/fathers in our program," for "materials we can distribute to our sanctuary team," and for "useful resources for questions asked by the new moms who come to us." Feedback from the MCH trainees included appreciation of "community stories to help [them] learn about the real issues families face," appreciation for the opportunity "to interact with community leaders," and powerful comments about the day "making disparities real." The second annual Shared Day of Learning is presently being organized to continue this impactful collaborative event to reduce infant mortality and support children and families in inner city Milwaukee.
The Northwest Public Health Leadership Institute at the University of Washington’s Northwest Center for Public Health Practice (NWCPHP) teaches collaborative leadership skills with a focus on the life-course perspective and health equity. Combining onsite sessions in Seattle with distance-based learning, the program incorporates individual and team-based learning components, including problem-based learning (PBL) cases about MCH-related challenges leaders face. Scholars assess their leadership skills, design and implement leadership projects in their agencies, and apply what they learn to their career.
Scholars, faculty, and guest presenters come from a range of roles and backgrounds working to advance health across the life course. Director Michelle Sarju, MSW, is a former midwife and a long-time MCH advocacy professional. Faculty have hailed from public health practice, various academic departments, primary care, organization development, and other areas. Guest presenters and panelists from the region bring career expertise in topics such as applying a life-course perspective to MCH leadership, using data for decision making, collaborating across sectors, resolving conflict using an equity lens, and communicating about sensitive issues. Scholars’ professional backgrounds range from MCH epidemiology, to public health nursing, to youth advocacy.
That breadth of disciplines and professions reflects an intentional and strategically expansive vision of MCH. As the cornerstone of NWCPHP’s HRSA-funded MCH Professionals Leadership Training Program, the Leadership Institute curriculum and program structure are interdisciplinary and interprofessional, particularly because of the life-course focus. Improving population health and equity at critical times across the life course involves many disciplines, professions, and roles working simultaneously and collaboratively on intersecting issues. The Leadership Institute is designed to both teach and model this for emerging public health leaders. This mirrors priorities of the new MCH Leadership Competencies version 4.0, which emphasizes the interprofessional nature of MCH.
School nurses in Alabama have very few opportunities for high-quality continuing education (CE), which are accessible and affordable. The Pediatric Pulmonary Center (PPC) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has helped to fill this need for many years. Every January, the PPC Trainees meet with the lead nurses for two local school systems, the Jefferson County Board of Education and Birmingham City Schools. These lead nurses typically have a “wish list" of topics that have been requested by school nurses. These topics, combined with areas of high priority to MCHB, inform the program for an annual CE event, which is held at the end of the school year. Trainees work as a group to plan all aspects of the event, including budget management, logistics, locating speakers, printing programs, obtaining nursing continuing education units (CEU), and handling registration.
UAB PPC Nursing Faculty Dr. Theresa Rodgers supervises this project. “The trainees learn a lot about event planning and working together as a team, including handling conflicts," according to Dr. Rodgers. “They do it all – from learning about purchase orders to introducing speakers."
The 2018 event, held on 5/25/18, had six different topics. The CEUs, breakfast, and lunch were all provided free of charge for the 60 attendees. Several PPC-specific topics, such as asthma and tracheostomy care, are requested nearly every year, while other topics, such as use of naloxone, are emerging issues. Former PPC Trainees consistently report that planning this event helps them gain confidence in interdisciplinary teamwork and leadership, as well as skills in event planning and working with community partners.
Recently, the LEND Program at Westchester Institute for Human Development (WIHD) added a new learning experience to the Interdisciplinary Clinical and Field Practice Module of their Interdisciplinary Leadership in Action Course. The new community-based site visits and post-visit full-class discussion activities support trainees in gaining insight into the practical aspects of model interdisciplinary practice. The learning objectives and pre-visit questions guide active observational experiences at community-based sites in multiple settings: a neonatal ICU; an independent specialty children’s hospital; inclusion preschool classes for children with language, communication, cognitive and motor delays and/or autism; early intervention and preschool special education classrooms at a post-acute care center; and a work-readiness program that supports students transitioning from school to work and community. Trainees make site visits in small groups with a LEND faculty member. All trainees participate in a large group discussion after the visits to share new knowledge and insights. At several of the sites, former WIHD LEND trainees, who are now on staff, host the visit. Trainee feedback on this new curricular element has been extremely positive.
For more than forty years, the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health program at the University of Minnesota (UMN LEAH) has been dedicated to improving the capacity of the workforce serving adolescents and young adults (AYA). Located within a land-grant university, UMN LEAH embraces the land-grant mission to translate and disseminate research with an aim of supporting real-world systems in making evidence-based and evidence-informed changes that positively impact young people’s health and well-being. Not only do faculty embrace this core principle but it is integrally woven into our interdisciplinary fellowship curriculum, providing trainees the skills for conducting, translating, and disseminating research, and the ability to provide technical assistance and support for policies that promote youth health.
Captured under the rubric Translating Research into Practice, UMN LEAH provides a 5-part seminar series to all first-year trainees that flips the traditional “research to practice” model by starting with “practice.” Focused on MCH Competencies of Communication, Family-Centered Care, Interdisciplinary Teams, and Policy and Advocacy, the overall goal of this series is to reframe how research and practice go together and build connections between academic and applied endeavors. Taught by a multi-disciplinary faculty (public health nursing, marketing/communications), these seminars provide foundational information about public health systems; dive deeply into how these systems use research; and enhance fellows’ translation, partnership and communication skills.
Over the course of the seminars, and with guidance from seminar faculty, trainees are actively engaged in translating their research into user-friendly products for practice audiences. Previously, a LEAH post-doctoral trainee and faculty member created a legislative brief for the MN Governor's Task Force on Bullying highlighting UMN LEAH research on youth bullying and prevention. This brief was used in concert with Governor’s Task Force testimony, to inform legislators and their staff about research relevant to the Safe and Supportive MN Schools Act, legislation that became MN law in 2014.
In addition to attending all seminars, trainees engage in a mentored collaboration with state public health agencies which could include:
This collaboration results in some research-to-practice “product” based on the needs of the system partner. Products include:
Kiana Hardy, MCH Public Health Catalyst
Suzanne Stern-Brant, Pediatric Pulmonary Center (PPC)
Alyssa Bosold, Centers of Excellence in Maternal & Child Health (CoE)
You developed a plenary session with two other Ambassadors who you had never met before. What was your experience like collaborating virtually?
Kiana: Preparing to present at MLC 18 and attending the meeting in Tampa was a great experience. Suzanne, Alyssa, and I were on the same page from the very beginning - from scheduling planning meetings to developing the presentation. Even though we were on separate ends of the country, we still made it work!
Suzanne: Working across time zones and electronic media to develop the MLC plenary session was seamless, thanks to the commitment and competence of Kiana and Alyssa. It was apparent that our respective training programs encouraged and nurtured our basic collaborative natures, allowing for a process and product that illustrates the value of teamwork.
How did the skills you acquired in your MCH training program help prepare you for the TAG presentation?
Suzanne: Asking current and former trainees to make lifelong connections through a national meeting is a lofty goal, even among individuals who share a commitment to maternal and child health (MCH) and the values and objectives expressed by the family of Maternal & Child Health Bureau-funded training programs. Throughout my internship at the University of New Mexico Pediatric Pulmonary Center (PPC), I participated in activities to build skills for collaboration across disciplines. Although these exercises could feel like busy work during the academic crunch of exams or finalizing a research project, for me, developing the TAG presentation illustrates the importance of completing these interdisciplinary exercises during the traineeship.
What factors did you consider when developing the TAG presentation?
Alyssa: In line with the MLC 18 theme “Taking the Next Step”, our TAG presentation was an interactive session that helped people to reflect on their values (which we had identified earlier in day), and how those values drive our decision-making in professional settings. Kiana and Suzanne were amazing teammates, and with the support of the TAG, we were able to come up with breakout session questions that asked people to dig deep.
Kiana: When thinking about our TAG presentation at MLC it was important for us to develop an activity that meshed with the overall theme/topics of MLC and it was also great that we were able to build off of the MCHB presentation on values clarification earlier that same day. In my opinion, it made it easier for us to engage our audience. Hosting an interactive activity turned out to be very beneficial for engaging the group over the lunch hour.
Suzanne: Our shared commitment to a meaningful conversation between MLC 18 participants helped us formulate interesting and timely discussion questions on personal and professional values and the importance of mentorship. A shared interest in promoting dialogue on issues of ethnic diversity within the MCHB community was reflected in our presentation. Additionally, the results of the end-of-session survey highlighted a broad interest in issues of social justice. I am hoping our presentation will be the groundwork for a sustained and in-depth conversation about inclusivity and a deeper sensitivity among MCHB peers and for underserved clients.
What did you like the best about attending MLC 18?
Alyssa: For me, MLC 18 was a unique opportunity to learn from my fellow trainees. Both presenting on behalf of the TAG, and attending the meeting in general, helped me to grow, personally and professionally. Hearing the questions, and the responses of my fellow trainees at the meeting, who came from different backgrounds and academic programs, really encouraged me to think about how to live my values, through my work and in my personal life. MLC 18 came at an opportune time for me, as I am finishing a training program in June and thinking about the next phase of my career. Hearing the perspectives of people at different stages along their career and personal journeys, through informal conversations with my co-presenters, current and former MCH trainees at the meeting, and MCHB staff, sparked further self-reflection, and helped me to find both direction and inspiration.
Kiana: As a first time attendee of the MLC meeting, I thoroughly enjoyed the focus on maternal and child health as well as networking. Having attended larger meetings and conferences in the past, such as AMCHP and APHA, they can sometimes be intimidating and overwhelming, but MLC is the exact opposite. I was able to connect and talk with different people in the MCH field, but also hear about current research being conducted across the country.
Would you recommend MLC to other trainees in the future?
Kiana: MLC 18 reinvigorated my desire conduct research in the MCH field and it also introduced me to a potential research companion to begin discussing potential project ideas. If you would like to attend a meeting or conference that allows you to network with MCH contacts on a smaller/more intimate scale, I would highly recommend attending MLC.
Suzanne: Coming from an unrelated background to start a second career in social work has taught me to trust my process. The quality of programing and supervisory support provided by my PPC practicum guided me through a huge life transition. My PPC training was invaluable for assuming a leadership role on the TAG and in delivering more culturally sensitive services to my clients. Participating in MLC 18 was another supportive avenue for building leadership skill. For me, the value of attending MLC is the ability to be emotionally and physically present with like-minded individuals and share creative ways of deconstructing problems and constructing solutions. Technology allows us to build networks and alliances across disciplines and geography, but somatic connections cement these bonds across careers and lifetimes.
Alyssa: I think MLC is a valuable experience for MCH trainees throughout their careers, and attending the meeting at different times could provide different opportunities for growth and exploration. This time, I had a chance to develop friendships with my fellow TAG ambassadors, reflect on my values, and feel supported by new connections as I “take the next step”.
My name is Kacie McLaughlin and I had the great pleasure of serving as the Division of Maternal and Child Health Workforce Development spring 2018 intern in Rockville, Maryland. I was a graduate student intern while also completing my final semester of Masters in Public Health program at the University of Georgia. Under the supervision of Ms. Samantha Croffut, I completed a number of projects such as the analysis of LEND trainee data and maternal and child health timeline on the topic of infant mortality. I also supported the work of the MCHB workforce development committee reviewing staff self-assessments and training courses.
As part of my work, I assisted in the update of the DMCHWD website and developed a brown bag on adolescent health. In addition to my assignments, I attended a number of meetings and conferences to learn more about MCHB’s work throughout the country. I attended the PPC annual meeting, the Infant Mortality COIIN Social Determinants of Health meeting at the 2018 AMCHP meeting and the Children’s Healthy Weight COIIN meeting. I was also given the unique opportunity to intern with the Division of Healthy Start and Perinatal Services. There I completed a number of additional exciting projects such as planning the HRSA Maternal Mortality Summit. Overall my time with MCHB was a wonderful experience. I was able to observe the practices and the implementation of programs I learned about in the classroom setting. My desire is to use all of the skills and knowledge that I acquired during my internship throughout my career to improve the health and well-being of the nation’s mothers, children, and families.
Christopher “Kit” Hammar’s Va-LEND Leadership Project highlighted Va-LEND’s trainees who are persons with disabilities or family members of a person with a disability. View his final product to find out more about these trainees and the value they add to the Va-LEND program.
In May 2018, the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN) launched Sensory Friendly Sunday (SFS), a monthly, free event for kids, teens, and adults with autism spectrum disorder or sensory sensitivities. SFS offers the opportunity for families to make art together, explore the galleries, watch a short film, or just hang out in a different setting. From 8 to 11 a.m. on the first or second Sunday of each month, the galleries are closed to all other visitors, allowing guests to enjoy the museum in a calm environment where accommodations such as quiet spaces, headphones, and fidgets can be provided.
SFS was spearheaded by Julia Anderson, who conceived the idea for the program as a LEND Fellow in 2016-17. Anderson applied LEND’s interdisciplinary approach to her program development process. For example, she created a Community Advisory Group of parents, self-advocates, and professionals (including past and current MNLEND families and trainees) to guide and inform the program. Additionally, Julia interviewed occupational therapists, art teachers, museum security guards and museum educators to learn a diversity of viewpoints. Walker staff, security guards, and educators received training from Autism Society of Minnesota and aimed to create a welcoming environment. While SFS is a new program, it is receiving positive input from the autism community and provides an example of community inclusion at work.
Throughout this experience, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for and understanding of the role of the self-advocate. This has been the most valuable component of LEND for me as a clinician and aspiring researcher. Learning from self-advocates in our seminars, at the Disability Policy Seminar, and also from self-advocate LEND fellows has challenged my own thinking and emphasized the power of the human voice. Additionally, I’ve gained a greater understanding of the federal and state governmental agencies and nonprofit programs that are designed to meet the complex and ever-changing needs of children and adults diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disabilities. And most importantly, I’ve greatly expanded my professional network to include a diverse range of colleagues with expertise in neurodevelopmental disabilities.
Overall, I was able to learn the ins and outs of disability: policy, community-based organizations, Title V organizations, and available clinics and resources for individuals and families with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Presentations from experts and families, visits to clinics and organizations, and home visits have allowed for me to view the larger scope of the disability world, and how we fit into that picture. I am grateful for having been a part of this LEND experience, and I strongly encourage anyone who wants to learn more about this wonderful world to enjoy the program as well.
As a doctoral student, I rarely observe how children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families interact with medical professionals and navigate the healthcare system. During my observation at the ASK and LEND Clinics, I was given the opportunity to venture outside of my professional bubble and realized the importance of an interdisciplinary team. It was amazing to see how a collaborative approach can positively impact individuals throughout diagnosis, treatment, and their entire lifespan.
Through collaboration with several members of the Social Work department, I was also given the opportunity to create a resource for families and children with neurodevelopmental disabilities as they prepare to navigate adulthood. Very often families are completely unaware of the services that are offered throughout the state as their child transitions from high school to post-secondary education, employment, or community settings. I was glad to help develop a resource to ease this period of uncertainty for families.
The LEND program has been an invaluable complement to my clinical work within the Developmental Medicine Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. Through LEND I have had the opportunity to learn from the expertise of field leaders, family members, and, most importantly, self-advocates. Our seminars provided me with valuable resources and skills that I actively incorporated into my work with families in clinic. LEND has empowered me with the tools and confidence to effectively support my patients and their families. My participation in LEND has also expanded my network of colleagues and interdisciplinary team members with whom I am eager to collaborate in the future! I am grateful to have had this meaningful experience as I complete my postdoctoral fellowship training at Boston Children’s Hospital. Thank you to the LEND faculty and to my fellow fellows for this tremendous opportunity for learning.
I am on the autism spectrum and a proud mother of two adult sons, one on the spectrum. The list of lessons learned at LEND is extensive, a life changing experience for me. The best way to explain the impact is to visualize a journey of a caterpillar, coming out of a cocoon, into a butterfly. It displays the fight to come out of the cocoon and find my wings while learning to fly.
The whole LEND experience has been a part of my journey of becoming a better individual and self-advocate. It broadened my understanding of how all the disciplines need to work together to bring a more positive outcome for the patients and families served. At Boston Children’s Hospital, through my clinic visits and classwork I saw great collaboration of the doctors and clinicians providing tremendous care and assessment of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. This brought me to tears seeing incredible patient and parental care. When raising my children, I wished that was in place for us. The interdisciplinary team approach is beautiful. I am proud to have learned what I have and want to help bring other families that need the same kind of help and hope for their families.
A turning point in LEND came while working on my team project on stigma. Working and learning from my team, and the help of my family: Adam and Hannah, and then presenting our project was pivotal for me. I really learned what my role represented at the Disability Policy Seminar and the impact of using my story to bring much needed awareness. At the Disability Policy Seminar, the entire year of learning in LEND was brought together and gave me a chance to open my mouth, have a voice, and understand how each individual voice does matter. My desire moving forward is to be a part of research for those aging with autism, and advocate for adult services that are “necessary” that would better all our lives!
I am very grateful to the LEND faculty, my fellows, and MASS. Thank you for your part in my healing journey.
I am privileged to work with individuals with developmental disabilities and their families on a daily basis. I evaluate and treat children from 1-20 years who have genetic conditions, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities and anxiety. As a clinical fellow in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, I work on a multidisciplinary team of physicians and psychologists to evaluate toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged children with developmental concerns.
LEND has allowed me to more fully understand the complex infrastructure that supports so many of the programs my patients rely on for educational, social/ emotional, employment and recreational supports. It has been very informative to learn directly from leaders in the field as well as policy-makers and program directors. I have also learned so much from my LEND co-fellows. Throughout my training, there has been a strong emphasis on practicing interdisciplinary care in order to obtain improved outcomes for patients. Given the diversity, breadth of experience and knowledge that our collective group brings, I can clearly see how this approach can lead to tremendous benefits for those with disabilities. My time in the LEND program has allowed me to become a more well-rounded and informed developmental pediatrician as I finish my training and move onto independent practice.
Current Oregon LEND trainees and faculty traveled to the Oregon coast to screen the development of children ages 2 to 6 years of age during the annual Tillamook County’s Early Childhood Screening Fair, held April 18-20, 2018. Formerly known as the Multi-Modular preschool screening, this community-founded program has been a service of rural Tillamook County for over 45 years.
LEND trainees and faculty donated their time to offer this free service to the families and children of Tillamook County. Trainees collaborated with students of Oregon Health & Science University, community providers, and hospital and educational staff to screen children in 12 health and developmental areas, including motor development, communication, behavioral health, nutrition and pediatrics. In addition to screenings, trainees provided consults, resources and referrals for further service as part of this three-day event.
This collaborative effort to support the children and families of Tillamook County has long been a part of our LEND Training Program. Our trainees enjoyed the experience, especially the opportunity to see children from a different area of the state. They reported that this made them consider the need to provide this kind of service in other communities throughout the state.
Having worked in the social work field prior to my internship, primarily in substance abuse, I was excited to learn more about the healthcare field. I have been introduced to and taught so many real life topics since I began my internship. Topics such as cultural competency, ethics, healthcare literacy, critical thinking skills, family centered care, advocacy, and interdisciplinary teams stopped being just theories in a textbook. These concepts came alive in our weekly core curriculum meetings with various specialty interns, supervision, and interdisciplinary team meetings.
The staff, consisting of a rich combination of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, psychologists, and nutritionists, not only encouraged me to learn, but set the example in their quest of knowledge and excellence in their respective fields. Being able to observe and engage in thought provoking and informational discussions have not only enriched my learning experience, but have trained me to become a better professional and leader in the social work field. I would highly recommend the PPC program to any future intern because it will cause all theories and applications learned in the classroom to come alive in the functionality and application of real world experience.
Multimodal treatment for ADHD, including parent education, behavioral interventions, school-based supports and medication management, have been shown to improve outcomes for children with ADHD. The Interdisciplinary Comprehensive ADHD Program (ICAP) is a pilot project to improve access to multimodal treatments in ADHD and improve collaboration between primary care and child psychiatry in the UC Davis Healthcare System. As part of this project, a child psychiatry fellow/LEND trainee and a child psychiatry faculty member provided a three-part educational series to primary care providers on multimodal treatments for ADHD. A psychologist from the Health Management and Education Department offered a parent education group at each primary care office.
Following participation in the program, primary care providers reported improved familiarity with school-based supports and community resources for families and they reported increased likelihood of referring families to these resources. The project generated helpful dialogue about ways to increase multimodal treatment of ADHD using existing resources within the UC Davis healthcare system and in the community. It also fostered increased collaboration between primary care and other mental health providers.
Being an ArizonaLEND fellow has been a deeply meaningful experience, not only because of the caring, talented, and like-minded friends and mentors that I have met, but also because of the way LEND has helped me develop from a student of public health into an early career professional. When I started my undergraduate education in 2010, I knew I wanted to someday return to my hometown of Yuma, Arizona, a rural, United States-Mexico border community, and work with individuals with disabilities and their families. I understood all too well the family role as the eldest sibling of two autistic brothers. My mom and I have always been a team supporting my brothers, and I carry our lived experiences with me everywhere I go. After completing my undergraduate degree in neuroscience and cognitive science, I stayed in Tucson at the University of Arizona and completed a master’s program in public health policy and management. I realized that public health was the field where I belonged.
In July, I will be the coordinator for the Regional Center for Border Health’s Center for Children with Special Needs and Autism in Yuma. I will supervise interdisciplinary clinics for children with disabilities with teams from our three major Arizona universities. In addition, I will also participate as a second year LEND fellow as part of a team working to improve developmental screening and surveillance in our rural communities across Arizona. It’s been an honor being a part of ArizonaLEND, and I look forward to continuing the advancement of my formation as a professional in public health through the experiences I’ve had as a LEND fellow.
Beyond the classroom, beyond the clinic: partnerships between teachers and physicians- This final research project of my fellowship is a qualitative study that seeks to identify strategies that could facilitate collaboration between the disciplines of education and medicine. Our goal is to improve outcomes of children with diverse learning needs. Using semi-structured interviews of general and special education teachers and general and developmental-behavioral pediatricians we attempted to learn what teachers and physicians consider are the barriers to a strong partnership between them and what they consider are strategies to improve communication and collaboration. When we were preparing for the project, we spoke with a leader in elementary education at our university’s school of education to gain his perspective on the topic. He suggested that teachers would likely not value building partnerships with pediatricians because they spend every day with their students and pediatricians see their patients relatively rarely.
We have conducted 11 interviews so far and are beginning to code them for emerging themes. Both groups were interested in sharing knowledge between disciplines in order to facilitate the success of all children. Teachers wanted to have a definition of pediatricians’ role in the education of children and a better understanding of developmental expectations for their students. Physicians wanted to know about the processes schools follow in evaluating children and how individual teachers approach children in their classrooms. Several respondents suggested this knowledge be shared through meaningful, well-designed, in-person interactions between teachers and pediatricians. Time to conduct these interactions was a barrier mentioned by most everyone. The lack of a forum for direct communication between teachers and pediatricians was another significant barrier. As I finish my DBP fellowship and look toward my new position in a community health system, I look forward to collaborating with teachers and pediatricians. This project has underscored how children’s health is an important part of their learning and how education is an important aspect of their medical care.
Mama Frances was a force to be known in the South Bronx of New York City. She was the only grandmother I knew handing out condoms and encouraging people to get HIV testing. She was my grandmother, and I am proud of her decades of service helping vulnerable patients affected by HIV. In her final years, she could be found distributing condoms to individuals in her Catholic nursing home. As a Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) fellow, I feel I am continuing the legacy of my grandmother’s work as an advocate for vulnerable patients. I work as part of a phenomenal interdisciplinary team with physicians, nurses, and social workers to provide comprehensive medical care to youth in Baltimore. I am surrounded by a dedicated clinical team and scientists with tremendous passion for improving the lives of teens though great clinical care, research and advocacy.
My career as a scientist started as an undergraduate at Columbia University in Dr. Rae Silver’s neurobiology laboratory. My research skills were developed while working at the Weill Cornell Medical College Belfer Gene Therapy Core Facility with Dr. Neil Hackett and studying child abuse with Dr. John M. Leventhal at Yale Medical School. I entered adolescent medicine fellowship to develop my clinical, leadership, and research skills.
During my fellowship, I participated in adolescent health rotations in substance use disorders, neurodevelopmental disabilities, eating disorders, endocrinology, sports medicine, and psychiatry. I worked in an adolescent medicine clinic and supervised residents at Johns Hopkins. In the community, I saw patients at Baltimore school-based health centers. I was interviewed on topics of adolescent and sexual health for the 90.5 WKHS radio show and the Dragon Digital Radio show entitled Get the Facts: Teens and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). I worked as a buprenorphine prescriber at the SPARC women’s center in Baltimore. Both the LEAH and adolescent medicine fellowships enhanced my leadership skills as a clinical educator and team facilitator.
My primary research as a fellow examined the prevalence of Mycoplasma genitalium and Trichomonas vaginalis infections in urban adolescents and young adults in the Women’s BioHealth Study. My primary mentor and the principal investigator for this research was Dr. Maria Trent. As a result of this research, I published an article entitled, “Clinical and sexual risk correlates of Mycoplasma genitalium in urban pregnant and non-pregnant young women: cross-sectional outcomes using baseline data from the Women’s BioHealth Study” with Dr. Trent as the first author. Also, as the first author, I published an article entitled “Does the Sex Risk Quiz Predict Mycoplasma genitalium Infection in Urban Adolescents and Young Adult Women?” I presented abstracts at the 2017 and 2018 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine conferences and they were published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. To disseminate the findings of this research, I have given lectures on the topic of sexually transmitted infections.
I am excited to continue my career as a physician-researcher next year at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). I will be an Assistant in Internal Medicine and Assistant in Pediatrics at MGH and Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. I will work in the MGH Everett Family Care and MGH Adolescent Medicine clinics. I will continue research on vulnerable populations and sexually transmitted infections under the mentorship of Dr. Trent. I am very grateful for the incredible opportunity to participate in the Hopkins LEAH fellowship. The mentorship and diversity of the Hopkins LEAH faculty stand above and beyond what I have received at any other point in my physician training. The LEAH fellowship inspired my lifelong career in clinical care, research, and support for adolescents.
This past grant year (2017-2018), the University of Minnesota (UMN) LEAH program welcomed one of its largest and most diverse cohorts of trainees or fellows: 3 nursing fellows, 2 receiving their doctorate of nursing practice and one pursuing a PhD; 2 social work fellows with one pursuing her master’s degree, the other her PhD; and 1 public health fellow pursuing her master’s degree with an emphasis in maternal and child health. They were joined by 3 post-doctoral fellows funded through HRSA’s Interdisciplinary Research and Training in Child and Adolescent Primary Care grant: a general pediatrician and 2 PhDs, one in family social science and the other in epidemiology. Some will pursue careers in research and teaching within higher education; others are looking forward to leadership careers in the public sector. This thoroughly interdisciplinary cohort brought the best from their respective disciplines and, concurrently, opened themselves up to the perspectives and expertise of other disciplines. Now, nearly finished with their fellowship year, they reflect on what LEAH fellowship training has meant for their careers.
Learning in an interdisciplinary setting brings growth and development.
One of the many strengths of this fellowship is that people with different backgrounds meet on even ground and share knowledge and experience on an even playing field. This fosters conversation that expands perspectives on adolescent health and helps fuel a sense of empowerment to pursue a career is this field. Being provided numerous opportunities in the fellowship to advance scholarship and knowledge around a core area of interest, and speak about it with other fellows from different disciplines, at conferences, and in the community has really strengthened the capacity to speak to the health and well-being of adolescents to a range of audiences. It is essential to experience the different yet complimentary perspectives that an interdisciplinary approach brings to addressing youth health disparities.
Interdisciplinary training broadens discipline-specific assumptions about young people.
In nursing, for example, conversations are often focused on holistic health and healing. In the fellowship, this perspective is included -- as are perspectives from prevention science, social work, public health, and clinical settings – into rich and meaningful conversations regarding young people, risk taking behaviors, and protective factors. Being in an interdisciplinary cohort is a reminder that not everyone views the world the same way as a community practice social worker or a nurse or a physician, even if they want to accomplish the same things. Learning with other professionals opens up a larger dialogue and allows for greater learning than when learning is within just one profession.
Interdisciplinary training is a value-added proposition.
This fellowship has changed the course of several fellows’ careers. Previously, teaching and research were on the periphery of careers; now, teaching and research have moved to the forefront. It also is valuable to learn about professional expectations for different disciplines, and how these expectations shape everything from teaching, to publishing, to the types of research that is deemed acceptable in various professions. Participating in this interdisciplinary training experience – through research, community engagement, teaching, and learning experiences – provides essential leadership skills for advancing the field of adolescent health.