Learning Collaborative releases new findings, makes progress toward dashboard of workforce measures


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From the National Program Office

The Learning Collaborative traveled to Cleveland State University last week for its semi-annual conference and site visit, aimed at examining evidence-based approaches to reducing health care disparities. The goal of the two-day event was to develop an agreed-upon set of leading health workforce measures to include in a metrics dashboard – one of the primary deliverables of the Urban Universities for HEALTH project. The meeting featured three dynamic “unconference,” or participant-led, discussion sessions around metrics development within each of the core areas of impact. CSU/NEOMED presented highlights from its pipeline and service learning programs, and students and members of the Cleveland community shared their experiences with the group. Participants left the meeting having learned more about metrics that other institutions had developed, and made progress toward identifying the best indicators for a metrics dashboard. A summary of those metrics and lessons learned is forthcoming.
On September 30, Urban Universities for HEALTH released the results of the National Study on University Admissions in the Health Professions. Dr. Greer Glazer, Associate Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean of the College of Nursing at the University of Cincinnati, led the study, which found that health professions schools report an overall positive impact from the use of holistic review – a university admissions process that assesses an applicant’s unique experiences alongside traditional measures of academic achievement such as grades and test scores. The study also found that a majority of schools report an increase in the diversity of their incoming classes and no change to measures of academic quality, student academic performance, or student retention. The results were released at a press conference in Washington, DC. Watch video from the event or download the report.

Funding Opportunities

The AcademyHealth and the Aetna Foundation announce a call for applications for the new AcademyHealth/Aetna Foundation Scholars in Residence Fellowship Program. This fellowship is designed to retain underrepresented racial/ethnic minorities in health services research by providing professional training and networking activities for junior and mid-career level academics and clinical practitioners, who are conducting disparities research with a focus on population health. The application deadline is November 7, 2014

The AAMC is offering a Clinical Care Innovation Challenge Award that recognizes improvements at member institutions in improved clinical care delivery, payment, or training models. Awards of $10,000 each will be given to support one-year pilot implementation projects. Applications are due November 24.

The NIH has posted an FOA to solicit innovative system-level health services and policy research that can directly and demonstrably contribute to the elimination of health disparities.  Direct costs are limited to $350,000 per year for up to five years.  Letters of intent are due December 20, 2014.


SUNY Downstate Medical Center has received the prestigious 2014 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award, which recognizes an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. In addition, Kevin Antoine, assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion at SUNY Downstate, has been recognized with the magazine’s 2014 Diversity Visionary Award, the only individual honor of its kind nationally. 
Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) was recently awarded renewed state AmeriCorps grant funding from ServeOhio that will support 10 full-time positions and 20 part-time positions to create a focused group of volunteers devoted to advancing the health and success of rural Ohio communities.

The Office for Diversity at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNM HSC) has initiated a Mentorship Research Pilot Project for HSC faculty. The Achieving Institutional Mentoring Excellence (A.I.M.E) Pilot Project seeks to develop more effective faculty interactions and collaborations among both mentees and mentors by implementing a curriculum featuring psychosocial dimensions of academic life including identity, implicit bias, career decision-making, cross-cultural communication, and other related professional development topics with an emphasis on the promotion and tenure system. UNM HSC is also collaborating with Sandia National Laboratories to plan for future workforce needs by using a system dynamic modeling of primary care practitioners.  Finally, New Mexico has begun a community health worker (CHW) certification program in which the Office for Community Health at the UNM HSC has been instrumental in developing guidelines and training material.
Nursing, pharmacy, psychology and social work students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City will get special training on how to best serve veterans – including those with post-traumatic stress disorder – under a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
A perspective piece published by the New England Journal of Medicine describes ongoing challenges in the quest to diversify the physician workforce. John Iglehart notes that fewer underrepresented minority students than white students apply for, are accepted by, and graduate from medical schools. One development that may ultimately expand the diversity of the physician workforce is the impending demographic tsunami. However, these changes alone cannot resolve the diversity challenges facing black Americans and U.S. society.

When is a student “first-generation?” First-generation status is one of higher education’s main markers of student disadvantage, along with Pell Grant eligibility and membership in an underrepresented minority group. Despite the importance of the designation, however, there is no universal definition of what it means.  This Chronicle of Higher Education article explores some of the definitions in use and how universities might better classify and measure first-generation students entering their institutions.

Upcoming Events

The webinar Tools to Integrate Equity into Community Health Needs Assessments will highlight two analytical resources for conducting Community Health Needs Assessments with a health equity lens: the America’s Health Rankings’ ‘Health Disparity Tool’ and NNPHI’s ‘Community Commons.’ The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, October 23, 2:30-3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. 

Publications and Resources

The AAMC has released two Analysis in Brief publications on the racial and ethnic composition of the physician workforce. The first focuses on physician specialties; the second focuses on geographic distribution.
The AAMC has also published a second edition of Roadmap to Diversity and Educational Excellence: Key Legal and Educational Policy Foundations for Medical Schools. The publication offers guidance on the legal and policy fundamentals for developing and evaluating sustainable, mission-driven, diversity-related policies and practices in medical school admissions.
A new paper published jointly by the AAMC and AcademyHealth, The State of Health Equity Research: Closing Knowledge Gaps to Address Inequities, analyzes all U.S.-based, health disparities-focused health services research (HSR) funded between 2007 and 2011. More than 2,000 abstracts were analyzed to describe the funders and funding recipients of health disparities-focused HSR, to identify gaps in the populations and outcomes studied, and to examine five-year trends in the “evolution” of disparities research from documenting inequities, to investigating causal mechanisms, to identifying solutions.

A special issue of Nature explores connections between diversity and the rigor of research — including how marginalization affects study design — and discusses persistent, misguided assumptions. The message is clear: inclusive science is better science.

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