Highlights from New Mexico, new funding opportunities, and neighborhood-level data

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From the National Program Office

The Learning Collaborative held its 2014 Annual Meeting earlier this month at the University of New Mexico campus. Participants learned about UNM’s efforts to reduce health disparities through a variety of opportunities, including a conversation with community health workers and a tour of a local elementary school in an underserved neighborhood. The importance of community engagement was highlighted throughout the meeting, as participants grappled with how to measure the university’s impact on community health outcomes. Site teams shared their ideas for solutions to common health workforce challenges, and the group emerged with a set of high-priority projects that they will work towards in the coming months.  An official meeting summary is forthcoming; in the meantime, you can find more details in the article published by UNM’s Newsbeat.

Funding Opportunities

The Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program provides opportunities to develop new or expand existing effective institutional developmental programs designed to prepare a diverse group of students in the biomedical and behavioral sciences for competitive research careers and leadership positions in these fields. These grants are awards to institutions that confer the baccalaureate and/or doctoral degree in biomedical and/or behavioral science fields, have a demonstrated commitment to encourage and assist students from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral sciences, and have a research-intensive environment.  Applications are due May 1, 2014.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has issued a call for proposals to fund up to three implementations of paired health care payment and delivery system changes that incorporate a focus on reducing disparities in care and/or outcomes. The grants will inform the development of new care delivery and payment models, by demonstrating potential ways to build-in a financially-supported focus on equity, and will inform health care organizations and providers with new practices for developing and implementing disparities interventions within the context of new and emerging payment models.  The deadline is April 18, 2014.

Other Opportunities

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has issued an Request for Information  to obtain input on strategies to strengthen the research and training environment at Diversity Focused Institutions (DFIs) for early stage faculty career development.  Responses are due by April 28, 2014.
 
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is now soliciting nominations for the annual Herbert W. Nickens Presidential Award ($10,000), the Nickens Faculty Fellowship ($15,000) and the Medical Student Scholarships Awards ($5,000). For more detailed information about each award and eligibility criteria, visit https://www.aamc.org/initiatives/awards/.  Nominations for the three awards must be received by May 2, 2014. Nominations are now accepted via email at NickensAwards@aamc.org.

News

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez recently signed legislation creating a statewide community health worker training and certification program, with community health workers eligible for reimbursement from Medicaid. In addition to the changes for community health workers,  New Mexico’s state government has expanded residency slots at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and added six New Mexico dental slots in the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).

The University of Cincinnati has refocused its metrics for success toward retention and graduation rates. The need to improve rates at UC is increasingly important if the university wants to meet benchmarks set the UC2019 Academic Master Plan, which calls for increasing first-year retention rate to 90 percent and the overall six-year graduation rate to 75 percent.
 
Dwight Tillery, President and CEO for the Center for Closing the Health Gap shares insights from a recent discussion he had with Dr. Thomas Boat, Dean of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine. He writes that "the academic world has the power to make an impact on the health gap in three major ways: by addressing the substandard quality of care given to minorities seeking health care, addressing the shortage of people of color in the medical profession, and assisting us during the research phases of our program creation and execution.

Doctors from Duke University, the CDC, and the de Beaumont Foundation have developed an online repository of tools and resources to support collaborations between primary care and public health groups, as well as the use of Health IT to improve population health. The repository seeks to “leverage the 300-year-old infrastructure of public health to support the fabulous work that primary care providers are already doing.”

A group of students from the Latino Medical Student Association have written a blog entry on the importance of engaging Latino students and residents to health policy early in their education.  They argue that doing so will help create skilled leaders in Latino health care who are prepared to advocate for equality and ensure successful implementation of legislative gains.

Upcoming Events

AAMC will hold a webinar on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 from 12:30-1:40 p.m. EDT on the various ways that the Diversity Engagement Survey (DES) can help improve institutional culture and climate through the lens of diversity and inclusion.
 
An agenda and list of speakers is now available online for The Healthcare Quality and Equity Action Forum: Pursuing High-Value Healthcare on June 19-20, 2014 in Boston, MA at the Boston Seaport Hotel. The forum is convened by The Disparities Solutions Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Publications and Resources

The Cincinnati Health Department (CHD) has produced information on life expectancy for each of 47 neighborhood groupings. This data has never been available before and is an important step in improving the quality and extending the life of local residents.  

The National Conference of State Legislators has published a useful summary of state legislation that has been introduced to address the social determinants of health and is aimed at eliminating health disparities for underserved populations. 

AAMC’s 2014 Health Equity Research Snapshot highlights seven new research projects underway at AAMC-member institutions. The AAMC solicited these videos from researchers and their teams to represent the rich variety of populations and health outcomes that health equity researchers investigate.
 
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently published an issue brief on health care disparities, which seeks to identify emerging perspectives, progress and current activity, and outstanding needs.  Although the brief focuses specifically on health care disparities, it recognizes that these are intertwined with broader efforts to reduce health disparities.  
 
The culture of academic medicine has been described as hierarchical, competitive, and not highly supportive of female or minority faculty. In response, the authors of this study designed the Learning Action Network (LAN), in which institutional leaders and faculty representatives met twice yearly to form a cross-institutional learning community. The authors learned that people, structures, policies, and reward systems must be put into place to support cultural values, and broad-based support should be created in order for changes to persist when inevitable transitions in leadership occur.

A systematic literature review has been published in Family Medicine on retention and recruitment of minority faculty members. The authors found strong evidence that faculty development programs and mentoring programs increase retention, productivity, and promotion for this group of medical faculty.
 

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