1. MCH Workforce Development
  2. Funded Projects

Funded Projects

Training Maternal and Child Public Health Professionals to Address Growing Disparities in the Rural Midwest

Grant Status: Active

Training Category: Maternal and Child Health Public Health Catalyst Program

Project Director(s):

Kelli Ryckman, PhD, MS
College of Public Health
University of Iowa
145 N. Riverside Drive
Iowa City, IA  52242
Phone: (319) 384-1562


Several emerging issues such as the rise in the maternal mortality rate and an increase in methamphetamine and opioid use directly impact maternal and child health (MCH) professionals. Many of these emerging issues disproportionality affect rural regions and racial minorities. There is a growing and urgent need for a well-trained and diverse MCH workforce, particularly in states with large rural-urban and/or racial disparities. Iowa has a large rural population and a growing immigrant population with unique MCH needs that must be delivered by an MCH workforce trained in culturally and linguistically appropriate care.

The University of Iowa (UI) College of Public Health (CPH), an accredited CPH, is currently without a formal curriculum focused on the fundamentals of MCH. The CPH has faculty dedicated to MCH research focused on geographic and racial disparities and there is an opportunity to enhance our capacity for MCH-related activities by offering foundational MCH coursework.

Goals and Objectives:

The purpose of our application is to recruit a culturally, racially and ethnically diverse student body and educate them in the foundations of MCH principles.

The goals of the program are to:

  1. Educate graduate students in the foundations of lifecourse MCH learning competencies through completion of two fundamental courses;
  2. Foster and grow interest in MCH through a MCH Student Interest Group (MCH-SIG);
  3. Enhance faculty and student interactions through a series of MCH-SIG sponsored presentations, workshops and events;
  4. Provide students with MCH research and practice-based experiences; and
  5. Recruit a culturally, racially and ethnically diverse student body with interest in MCH research and practice.


Our collegiate-level program will be led by the Project Director, Dr. Kelli Ryckman, with support from a Faculty Instructor, Dr. William Story. The CPH has a robust student services office that can provide support in all student-related functions. The program will include partnerships with the Iowa Department of Public Health's Title V program, the State Hygienic Laboratory, and HRSA-funded initiatives at the University of Iowa, which include the Iowa Maternal Health Innovation Program and the Iowa Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (ILEND) Project. We will further leverage additional community and local public health agency partnerships to meet the goals of the proposed program.


The MCH foundations courses will be evaluated each semester and the overall program will be evaluated yearly to ensure continual quality improvement and sustainability.