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Funded Projects

Grant Status: Active

Grant Title: MCH Student Training for Academic Readiness and Success (MCH STARS)

Project Director(s):

Hamisu Salihu, M.D., Ph.D.
Project Director
College of Medicine
Baylor College of Medicine
3701 Kirby Drive
Suite 600
Houston, TX  77098
Phone: (713) 798-0114
Email: hamisu.salihu@bcm.edu

Problem:

One of the worst and persistent disparities in our nation affects minorities, particularly African American women and their children who bear an overwhelming burden of infant mortality, maternal mortality and other poor MCH indicators of health-related quality of life. Texas Southern University (TSU) is a historically black institution that will partner with Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) to educate, train and mentor underrepresented minority students in MCH Leadership core competences using a blended curriculum that integrates novel technology-based learning methods (MCH lab) with traditional approaches for maximal impact. Program Goal(s): The goals and objectives are: Goal 1: To recruit and retain a cohort of undergraduate students each year over five consecutive years in an MCH-focused training program. Objective 1: To recruit annually 20 undergraduate students, predominantly underrepresented minorities from disadvantaged backgrounds, to the MCH STARS program. Objective 2: To retain 100% of the participating students in the program until their graduation with at least 85% of them applying to MCH-related graduate programs or working in MCH-related fields. Goal 2: To train the enrolled undergraduate students in MCH core competencies using a blended didactic training approach which integrates traditional methods with cutting-edge technology (MCH lab) that creates a captivating learning environment for the millennial student. Objective 1: To provide an integrated, interdisciplinary MCH undergraduate training program that offers MCH competencies combining didactic teaching with skill acquisition leading to an MCH undergraduate certificate. Objective 2: To offer a blended learning environment that maximizes efficiency of knowledge and skill acquisition, creates passion, excitement and promotes engagement of trainees as they go through the pipeline training program. Goal 3: To develop, together with input from trainees, an effective and enriching mentoring program that will meet the learning and skill development needs of the students as they navigate through the pipeline program and consider future career options in MCH-related fields. Objective 1: To assist participating undergraduate trainees to identify and establish a tailored inter-professional mentoring team that will work with the students to attain the objectives of the program. Objective 2: To define a set of measurable objectives to be achieved through an individualized mentoring plan that takes into consideration the student's needs, talents, aspirations and future career goals. Goal 4: To offer trainees of the MCH STARS an inter-professional experience through participation and engagement in curricular and extracurricular activities that offer opportunities for inter-professional interactions. Objective 1: To deliver a 10-week summer leadership training that consists of seminars in MCH leadership and a field experience at various health agencies and organizations to enhance interdisciplinary training, culminating in a final project that is related to MCH. Objective 2: To expose trainees to opportunities and avenues, which promote interprofessional interactions through group activities, networking and participation in professional events and workshops.

Methodology:

The proposed MCH STARS will be housed at Texas Southern University (TSU), an institution that builds on its legacy as a historically black university and college that addresses critical urban issues and offers programs at impressively affordable rates to local and national socio economically disadvantaged students of diverse backgrounds. Prospective MCH STARS students will be recruited primarily through the existing channels of TSU recruitment community outreach that attracts 10,000 diverse students annually to the institution. We intend to recruit undergraduate trainees during their freshman (second semester) or sophomore year of studies through regular announcement/advertisement of the MCH STARS in the TSU HERALD newspaper, the main source of current events and campus news for most TSU students (http://thetsuherald.com). The final curriculum includes didactic learning and skill acquisition that is based on the MCH Leadership Competencies that were identified by a working group of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau as being critical to the progression of leadership development in MCH. The leadership of TSU and our MCH team at BCM held a meeting to partner in expanding the current health sciences courses available to undergraduate students at TSU with the ultimate goal of creating a full suite of undergraduate courses and seminars that will lead to a Bachelor's degree in Public Health in the future. As part of this long-term sustainable initiative, there was special interest in creating a strong university-wide MCH undergraduate certificate program at TSU that is inter-disciplinary in nature with emphasis on skill acquisition. It is anticipated that the MCH undergraduate certificate program will be part of the core foundation for a future full-fledged undergraduate public health degree program at TSU. Following selection and matriculation, there will be a three-month transition period during which students will establish an individualized plan of measureable objectives and their own tailored, interprofessional mentoring team of TSU COPHS Scholar's Academy and BCM faculty. The Program Co- Directors will facilitate this process using our Needs Assessment and Mentoring Plan tools. Mentoring teams will first consist of at least one peer mentor (e.g., an undergraduate student who has successfully completed the MCH certificate course and is still within the MCH pipeline program). The mentoring mosaic team will also include a career mentor, and the mentoring chair. Each year and throughout the lifespan of the grant, a 10-week MCH Leadership training will be organized in early summer that combines traditional face-to-face seminars with MCH lab sessions. In addition, we will facilitate trainees' placement at various health agencies (mostly MCH-related) for internship experience. As part of the 10-week summer leadership training, trainees will be paired with various health agencies/institutes/organizations/centers that offer a carefully supervised work or service experience that allows a student to address a public health issue or concern. The student will have specific learning goals and will reflect actively on what he/she has been learning throughout their experience. The internship will be part-time in order to allow the trainee to participate in the didactic part of the Leadership Training, and a minimum of 80 field hours is required. Each trainee will be assigned to a team for the purpose of implementation of group tasks in the MCH lab, some homework assignments or the summer group project. As each individual plays an active role in the process by contributing their skills to the group, an interprofessional team results that works on common issues in concert in order to realize specified milestones or accomplishments. Through this collaborative experience, trainees will experience a multi-disciplinary health system firsthand, imbibe and appreciate the merit of blending professional cultures through sharing of different skills and knowledge to attain common goals, for instance, improved quality of patient care among women and their families, or prevention of teen pregnancy.

Coordination:

We currently have a strong relationship that exists between the MCH group in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and the HRSA-funded MCH Nutrition Long-term Training Program housed in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. The PI of this grant proposal (Dr. Salihu) maintains regular professional discussions with the PI of the Baylor MCH Nutrition Long-term Training Program (Dr. Diane Anderson). Before and during the drafting of the proposal, we held in-depth discussions regarding the pathways of creating and strengthening the linkage between the MCH Pipeline Training grant and the Baylor MCH Nutrition Long-term Training Program. Our MCH STARS trainees will have the opportunity to interact with fellows from various backgrounds (nurses, physicians, nutrition scientists, registered dietitians, and public health professionals). We agreed that MCH STARS trainees will benefit significantly through periodic and organized participation in the activities of the fellowship program including team rounds, fellows' discussion forums, case study presentations, individual projects and leadership development activities. The PI of the Baylor MCH Nutrition Long-term Training Program will also be invited to give at least one guest lecture a year to our trainees on program evaluation and implementation of evidence-based nutritional practices.

Evaluation:

Our program coordinator, in consultation with the Steering Committee, will establish a web based database to host trainees' contact information, as well as track and document the long-term impact of training, at two and five years post-program completion. To ensure long-term tracking of program graduates, detailed contact information will be collected from each trainee upon entering the program, with requested yearly updates. To capture this information, trainees will be sent email containing a link to an electronic contact information/data collection form. This form will prompt trainees to enter their personal current and permanent contact information (e.g., phone numbers, home address, email), as well as names and contact information for family/friends with whom they remain in close contact with. Trainee responses on the form will be automatically entered into the trainee-tracking system. The trainee-tracking system will also be used to document the number and percentage of graduates: ? With post-program graduate level training: o Entering, completing, or with earned degrees in MCH-related fields ? Engaged in MCH or MCH-related careers: o Types of positions assumed by trainees upon completion of training o Name, location and demographic makeup of MCH and/or vulnerable/underserved populations that graduates are working with. ? Overall research contribution and impact: o Trainees' contributions to improving local or national health status o Publications in which trainees were leading or participating authors and that were relevant in some way to the training received under this program o Health policies that were influenced or implemented by returning trainees.

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