Calling all current and former trainees!

The Pediatric Pulmonary Center at the University of Florida is hosting a meeting for current and former trainees from MCHB-Funded Training Programs on April 15, 2011 in Orlando, Florida.  They are currently accepting applications for attendance through this online form. We hope you will consider attending!

“Making Lifelong Connections: Leadership, Networking and Career Development for MCHB Trainees” will be held at the Disney Boardwalk Inn in Orlando, Florida on April 15, 2011. Gwendolyn Adams, MCHB Training Branch Chief, will present the Keynote Address.  Additional sessions will be provided by MCHB faculty, current trainees and former trainees.  The UF PPC will pay for food and two days’ lodging and the trainees or their home centers are responsible for transportation and any other expenses. The objectives of this meeting are to enhance leadership skills, provide networking opportunities, assist with career development and help sustain connections in MCH.

More information is available in the Making Lifelong Connections Trainee letter.

Please consider applying to and attending this wonderful opportunity!

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Improve pediatric oral health

I entered a pediatric dental residency program hoping to develop the skills necessary to treat my patients’ oral health needs. However, two months into the program, I began to realize that the standard “drill and fill” method of delivering care often taught in pre-doctoral dental schools was inadequate. Social, medical, and physical variables contribute to the multifactorial nature of pediatric dental caries. As a maternal and child health (MCH) leadership trainee, I will be able to address the finer details of these challenges to improve pediatric dental care in high-risk populations.

“Access to care” is a flashy phrase used for many areas of health, including dentistry. That phrase should be rephrased—we want access to quality care. When evaluating the success of a program or new protocol, increasing access to care is not good enough. The care that is being delivered must be evidence-based and appropriate for the specific population being treated.

Not many people realize that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 addressed oral health. Money will be allocated for oral health education and school-based sealant programs. While it’s great to see value placed on these dental topics, the execution of the programs will determine their success. Multidisciplinary leaders can help ensure that these programs reach the right people in the right way. Collaboration among schools, media, health professionals, administrators and community members is mandatory. My MCH training is teaching me the skills necessary to manage such collaboration.

Recently, community health centers (CHCs) have been receiving increased Federal funds to expand and build new facilities. With my MCH training, I hope to help CHCs follow best-practices in dentistry. As a dental specialist, I hope to increase the options a CHC dentist has when faced with a complex pediatric dental patient.

Many of my peers in the dental profession have questioned the value of an enhanced dental specialty degree that includes MCH training. Surprisingly, they have a difficult time understanding how learning more about familial health determinants could be of use in a dental clinic. This illustrates one of the major challenges the dental profession faces. Dental school curriculum historically has not addressed the need for collaboration with physicians, community organizations, or health centers. While change is occurring, there is still plenty of work to be done.

James Cannava
Pediatric Dentistry Trainee
University of Washington

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Baylor LEAH Trainee: Becoming a Servant Leader

I had the privilege of participating as the public health trainee in the 2008-2009 Leadership in Adolescent Health (LEAH) program at the Baylor College of Medicine. Being amongst such a dedicated group of budding professionals committed to bettering the lives of youth was refreshing and rewarding. Working on an interdisciplinary team afforded me the opportunity to connect, share, and learn from others who hold different pieces to the puzzle of adolescent health. Adolescent health sometimes does not receive the recognition it deserves, however, the LEAH program ensured that the trainees walked away with both the professionalism and compassion needed to flourish in our respective fields.

The leadership training and skill building I received as LEAH trainee was incredible. Our current economic times call for renewed leadership in adolescent health. Limiting funding to school based clinic services, health education, childhood obesity prevention, teen pregnancy prevention and adolescent mental health services forces my generation of adolescent practitioners and researchers to develop innovative programs to remain successful. Many of our leadership activities pushed us to think beyond traditional solutions to common adolescent health issues.  From these activities I felt a renewed sense of responsibility in servant leadership. As a result of the leadership training, I am even more confident in going outside the box to develop creative ways to conduct research and educate alongside the community for the purposes of empowerment not just problem solving.

 After my trainee year at LEAH, several opportunities came and I quickly accepted. One opportunity was the chance to assist the White House Office of National AIDS Policy on developing recommendations for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy focusing on adolescents. I have also had an opportunity to examine my own leadership competencies through work as a research coordinator with the UT Prevention Research Center. At the UT Prevention Research Center, I have been out in the field educating school health councils, nonprofit coalitions and local health departments on the need for effective, evidence-based sexual health programs. Additionally, I have started a youth led action research project with middle and high school students committed to decreasing teen pregnancy in their neighborhood. This job and the activities I perform provide a perfect example of interdisciplinary collaboration:  the communicating of problems and evidence-based solutions, working with communities and systems, and developing practical advocacy approaches.

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Plans Change…

As I completed my graduate degree in social work, my plan was to become a clinical therapist; as much as I enjoyed the teaching, leadership, research and administrative components of the LEAH curriculum, I did not really think I would actually use them in my “real” job.

I finished the fellowship reluctantly, and started looking for employment. After working on an interdisciplinary team in an academic hospital, the idea of sitting in an office, on my own, seeing clients all day no longer seemed quite as appealing. Then I found a position in a multi-disciplinary mental health group practice that specializes in working with adolescents and getting to the heart of complex personal and family problems.

My first week on the job, I was asked to accompany my boss on a visit to a local high school where he was to make a presentation to freshmen parents about “Living with a Teen in the House.” He was given more time to speak than he had expected, so, on the spur of the moment, he asked if I wanted to talk about eating disorders. My heart was racing, but I said, “Sure.”

That’s when my LEAH training kicked in. I was able to take advantage of this opportunity for leadership because after all the presentations I had made to faculty and students during my fellowship years, it was easy to get up and calmly and professionally talk to parents about an issue with which many adolescents struggle. I felt exhilarated afterwards and realized how much I enjoy the “teaching” aspect of my work. I believe that in my own way I am a leader in adolescent health, and that I can have a positive effect on the lives of adolescents and their families.  I attribute this directly to my experiences in the LEAH fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine

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Baylor College of Medicine L.E.A.H and a Legacy of Leadership

The opportunities and training I received from the Baylor College of Medicine Leadership Education Adolescent Health (LEAH) social work fellowship in Houston, Texas were unparalleled. The faculty covered a breadth of topics and provided multiple opportunities for their application. I was amazed at the ways in which working with other trainees and faculty increased my knowledge, skills, and values about the training topics and leadership competencies in such a short period. The mutual investment in a multidisciplinary team helped me to reflect on and find a leadership style of my own.

During my second year as a fellow, I experienced greater opportunities to mentor and teach what I had learned, a process that led to the actualization of my sills. The adolescent medicine unit was a wonderful space to exercise these skills in real time. My licensure as a professional and my growth academically were only made possible by my placement in LEAH. The experience and education I received from this leadership training program were not provided in my graduate education. I am so thankful for programs like LEAH that bring a reality and experiential competent to disciplinary learning.

After completing my fellowship with the LEAH program, I joined Baylor Community Programs, a non-profit training program that teaches future master’s level social work students and offers experiential education/mentoring to at-risk teens in the greater Houston area. Leadership is my profession and has become a way of life for me. I utilize my teaching skills gained from the LEAH program as I interact with social work students.

Our program teaches leadership skills to youth to enhance developmental assets. Protective factors and leadership are instrumental in helping youth to navigate adolescence and develop into healthy adults. The staff, social work interns and teens in our program exercise communication, self-reflection, negotiation, cultural competence, and advocacy skills daily to bring about positive change in the world.

For me, leadership is a matter of legacy and humility. Leadership is the ability to create a space in which each person’s strengths can combine to give birth to new possibilities, solutions, and paradigms. Leadership is the way I connect–to myself, to others, to my community and my world.

The future of any profession lies in its eventual leaders. Teaching leadership in all professions is an important element for future success, from a large governmental organization like the MCHB (Maternal and Child Health Bureau)  down to the individual families that make up our communities. Leadership lies within all of us and needs exercise and a space to grow in order for it to emerge. I hope that more organizations and communities will take up the charge to incorporate instruction and application of leadership to youth, the foundation of our future legacy.

Shelley Gonzales, LMSW

Leah Fellow: Baylor College of Medicine 2007-2009

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MCH & Audiology

I am a 2010-2011 MCH trainee and third year student in the Doctor of Audiology program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a primary interest in pediatric audiology. By completing the MCH leadership training program, I hope to integrate key MCH concepts, methods, and competencies into my practice as a pediatric audiologist to better serve children and their families.

My goal is to work in a pediatric hospital or clinic setting as part of a multidisciplinary team that involves collaboration with fellow professionals in the early intervention, health care, and educational communities.  I hope to work in a setting that appreciates and is sensitive to the diverse social and cultural backgrounds of the children and families served. As a pediatric audiologist, I would incorporate a family-centered and culturally competent approach into my practice that advocates for the involvement of the child’s family as much as possible throughout the diagnostic and intervention process.  Early hearing detection and intervention programs have greatly improved outcomes for infants and young children with hearing loss; I want to contribute to the success and improvement of these programs at local, state, and national levels.  The MCH training program will give me the tools to work toward these goals and become a strong leader and clinician.

I recently completed the three-day leadership intensive and found the experience to be extremely enlightening and valuable.  I look forward to advancing my knowledge of MCH even further over the course of this next year at the various workshops and conferences.  To date my experience in the program has been a sign of good things to come.

Brittany Richardson, B.A.

Doctor of Audiology, Au.D., expected in May 2012

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Reflecting on Advocacy and Innovation

During my Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) traineeship at The Ohio State University Nisonger Center and my Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD) virtual traineeship, I had an opportunity to learn from some of the brightest clinicians in the field of developmental disabilities; I am now in my second year as a pediatric physical therapist. 

My experiences and education from the AUCD programs informs my work on a daily basis; two key concepts, advocacy and innovation, affect my clinical practice. 

I have seen changes in my attitude and interest in advocacy both at the political and interpersonal level. At the political level, I strive to participate by contacting my members of Congress whenever possible to promote issues that are important to me, my profession, and the disabilities community. The political action alerts from the American Physical Therapy Association and Action Center through AUCD are fantastic resources for quickly and effectively communicating concerns to my legislators. On an interpersonal level, I try not only to inform patients and families of their rights and responsibilities but empower them to become advocates themselves. Recently, a mother had some questions related to physical therapy in the educational environment. I was able to talk with her about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and direct her to reputable sources for more information.

I truly feel that my experiences as a LEND trainee and AUCD virtual trainee helped me take the leap from being a “thinker” to a “doer.” At any given time, I tend to have numerous ideas for innovation swirling around in my head. Prior to my traineeship, I often thought “Why is no one doing this?” Now, I find myself thinking, “How can I make this happen?”

I have always had a passion for promoting health and fitness, for example; this past summer, with the help of my employer’s clinical therapies department, I started a fitness group for children with neurological diagnoses. The first year was a learning experience but everyone had a lot of fun. Thanks to the influences of my LEND and AUCD training, I even gathered pre- and post- test data!  I am looking forward to a more extensive and impressive program next summer.

These are just a few examples of  the impact my LEND and AUCD traineeships have had on my career as a young professional. I very grateful to have experienced so many wonderful and unique experiences throughout my traineeship and enjoy staying connected through emails from AUCD and my LEND alma mater, as well as frequent visits to the AUCD website.

Liz Maus, PT, DPT
LEND trainee 2007-2009
AUCD virtual trainee 2008-2009

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Mentoring: the Art of Today’s Leaders Advancing the Leaders of Tomorrow

How did you develop your expertise? Cultivate your knowledge?  Refine a particular skill?  To each of those questions I can point to the influence of a mentor, someone with a wealth of experience who has provided me with guidance, teaching, and wisdom.  The MCH traineeship is an ideal setting that facilitates trainee mentorship from past and current leaders, many of whom were trainees themselves.  As a trainee, I am mentored at different levels across varied environments, but it is always continuous.  In my experience, the mentor will model behaviors to be demonstrated and practiced and then further developed through professional practice. The traineeship is unique in that it provides opportunities to be mentored individually, but also through collaborative projects.

One project distinct to my nutrition training program is the Cultural Competence Express Workshop that provides training in cultural competence to all graduate students entering our academic department.  As a trainee, I have contributed at numerous levels, from a supporting role to facilitation of the project; however, at each position I received mentoring.  Being part of this project has demonstrated the progression of knowledge and skills required to assume a higher leadership role; however, it was my faculty mentor who supported this progression.  Together we evaluated my strengths and weaknesses as I had greater responsibility and implemented strategies to strengthen my leadership.

More formally, I participated in the Johns Hopkins MCH Leadership Skills Development Series with the trainees and faculty in my program.  These MCH-focused modules gave me the opportunity to reflect on my current leadership skills and provided new strategies for me to incorporate into my own development.  Participating in this series provided detailed areas for mentoring.

At the national level, the nutrition training program provides seamless entry into national organizations, such as the Association of State and Territorial Public Health Nutrition Directors (ASTPHND) and American Dietetic Association (ADA).  The collaborations between nutrition training faculty and other organizations on MCH-related projects provide trainees numerous opportunities to be involved.  The traineeship has provided me the opportunity to observe my mentor interact and effectively communicate with leaders, through participating in meeting, such as the executive board meeting of one of ADA’s practice groups.  I have also had a chance to participate actively and then practice the modeled behaviors in a professional setting.  For example I recently helped revise ASTPHND’s training needs assessment of members.

The fact that nearly half of the public health nutrition workforce plans to retire in the next 10 years would be daunting without the mentorship I have received in the nutrition training program.  Instead, however, I am excited and prepared to step into a leadership position.  The confidence to step forward did not come from the classroom or practice, but from the mentorship I received as a nutrition trainee.  As I continue to practice and develop my knowledge and skills as a doctoral-level trainee, I want to mentor the next future leaders, just as I have been mentored by the leaders of today.

Shannon Looney, MPH, RD
MCH Trainee
Department of Nutrition, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Preparing Future Leaders: Life Course Model

I have come to appreciate the importance of understanding and monitoring current trends and issues in the field, particularly the emerging Life Course Model (LCM). LCM explains that the health trajectory of an individual depends upon several protective and risk factors throughout the lifespan. Beyond knowledge of the model, future leaders will need further skills to incorporate LCM into practice.

Shifting focus from treatment to prevention will be important in training future leaders. LCM presents that maximizing protective factors and minimizing risk factors ultimately lead to a more optimal health trajectory. In doing this, illness and disease can be prevented. For example, rather than focusing on obesity treatment, future leaders will need knowledge and skills in obesity prevention to optimize health trajectories. This includes minimizing risk factors, such as maternal obesity, high birth weight, and formula-feeding, and maximizing protective factors, such as breastfeeding, physical activity, and healthy eating. This approach requires involvement from many disciplines, indicating prevention will require a comprehensive health care team.

Interdisciplinary team building is another important skill needed for future leaders if they are to incorporate LCM into practice. In addition to having an appreciation and understanding of other disciplines, leaders must have the skills to collaborate with other disciplines to work together to maximize health trajectories. In the example of obesity prevention, coordination of all disciplines involved will be needed, including primary care providers, gynecologists, obstetricians, pediatricians, lactation consultants, physical activity specialists, dietitians, families, community members, and many others.

Finally, future leaders will need policymaking and advocacy skills, such as using data to frame messages, utilizing key stakeholders, analyzing the impact of policies on health trajectories, and understanding legal and political systems to affect change. Policymaking and advocacy skills will need to be developed for application at the organizational, community, state, and national levels. In the obesity prevention example, leaders will need policy and advocacy skills to facilitate interdisciplinary team building by changing how organizations think about the health care team and by developing policies that will enable disciplines to work together. Additionally, such skills will form the basis for securing funding from public, private, and non-profit sources and for developing policies that empower professionals to practice prevention in health care.

In incorporating LCM into practice, future leaders will need many new skills; however, focusing on prevention, interdisciplinary team building, and policy and advocacy skills are three main areas for training needs. Professors, mentors, and program directors should consider approaches for building these skills when planning training programs and academic curricula.

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Training through Collaboration

While undertaking dual masters’ degrees in public health nutrition and public health (MS-MPH), I have received training that goes beyond the classroom and includes my work as a , Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Nutrition Trainee at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT). Upon being introduced to the many projects to which the MCH Nutrition Training Program at UT is dedicated, I was intimidated and overwhelmed. However, I quickly realized that these projects and training opportunities are achieved through collaborative partnerships with other organizations and MCH training programs.

One such collaboration is with the nutrition training program at The University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB). As a funded trainee, I was fortunate enough to attend a 5-day intensive course that focused on the clinical application of nutrition for infants, children, and adolescents. Additionally, I was exposed to several pediatric clinics in the Birmingham area. This training opportunity was made possible through the collaborative relationship between UAB and UT, in which UT provided a public health presentation to UAB’s clinically focused pediatric course and UT trainees gained valuable practical clinical experience.

The project that I am most heavily involved in is the Promoting Healthy Weight Colloquium (PHWC). The colloquium promotes healthy weight for infants, children, and adolescents through a series of biannual presentations focusing on nutrition, physical activity, and parenting. Planning the PHWC is a large undertaking and begins by consulting with the local planning and national advisory committees to suggest and select speakers. Being part of the planning process has allowed me to understand how professionals complement one another to see a project through to completion. Collaboration occurs at many levels, including marketing the colloquium electronically.

For example, the PHWC is marketed to state nutrition directors, who are members of the Association of State and Territorial Public Health Nutrition Directors (ASTPHND), in US DHHS Regions I-IV. This relationship allows families, community members, professionals, and practitioners in Regions I-IV to participate and earn continuing education credits for Registered Dietitians and Community Health Education Specialists. The relationship has enabled UT to collaborate with ASTPHND on its training needs assessment of members and in planning its annual meeting.

This traineeship has facilitated my professional development as a leader in areas that concentrate on promoting and improving the health of mothers, infants, and children. By training through networking and collaboration, I have been able to broaden my understanding of the MCH workforce and population related to nutrition (clinical and public health) and factors that affect a healthy lifestyle. I have learned that without networking, groups and organizations cannot collaborate, and without collaboration, programs that benefit the MCH population would be unsuccessful. I am eager to continue networking and exploring my leadership capabilities so that they can be applied to my career goals in nutrition.

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