Using an Interdisciplinary Team in a Medical Setting

university of florida logoAs a 2010 MCH Trainee, I have learned the benefits and challenges of working on interdisciplinary team. In the Pediatric Pulmonary Center at the University of Florida, our cystic fibrosis patients regularly visit with a doctor or nurse practitioner, a nurse, a nutritionist, a social worker and occasionally a respiratory therapist. Being a social work student, it has been an enlightening and eye-opening journey to see and start to understand the different roles that all of the disciplines play in getting clients the best care that we can provide.

                Advocacy has always been a central guiding principle in my desire to pursue social work as a profession. Over the years, I have learned that advocacy can look incredibly different depending on the context. However, I had never truly examined what micro level advocacy could look like in a medical setting. After spending some time as an MCH trainee, I have found that an interdisciplinary team essentially advocates for each and every holistic need of the client in order to ensure they are becoming as healthy as they can be in every aspect. I have sat in on meetings where each discipline’s representative is asked to give input, and each perspective is valued. I have attended lectures about psychology attended by pulmonologists and lectures about pulmonology attended by psychologists. I have heard clients who know that their team is able to address their nutritional needs, their financial concerns and their physical condition all at the same appointment. In theory, what an interdisciplinary team can do for a patient is virtually limitless. I must say I do believe we have a long way to go before a client is completely seen as being an individual with diverse biopsychosocial needs separate from their compliance or noncompliance, in a way that may or may not be in congruence with what the medical team’s perspective embodies. However, even with these areas of growth, I have found a great deal of camaraderie and support in my MCH placement, and I have enjoyed seeing firsthand the effectiveness of a strong interdisciplinary team.

                 After working closely with physicians, nurses, dieticians, and other medical personnel, I have come to find that working from a family-centered model of practice that ensures the best care possible for patients requires every field represented and actively valued. Even with a social work background, I came into my traineeship believing that at a medical institution, clients’ biomedical needs were paramount. I have come to find that psychosocial issues in clients’ lives have an undeniable effect on their lives and their physical conditions, more than I even knew before working here. I will continue to value the perspectives of all disciplines wherever I continue my social work career.

Sarah E. Ogdie, MSW Intern

Pediatric Pulmonary Center, UF

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   unc sph              As a 2009 MCH Trainee, I was fortunate to participate in an initiative to increase the cultural and linguistic competency of select maternal and child health university programs.  The experience challenged me to reconsider diversity, not as a discrete, quantifiable statistic but as a dynamic indicator of public health.  I learned to evaluate diversity as a systematic process— or intentional experience– of inclusiveness, mutual respect, empathy, and social support among individuals, institutions, and communities.  In relation to educational attainment, this broader perspective of diversity stressed the essential role that cross-cultural relationships play in recruitment, retention, and training of future public health professionals. 

                Through my traineeship I became aware of numerous, creative, and extensive diversity strategies on college campuses nationwide.  Collaborations between universities and communities were attracting minorities into the field as early as high school and helping these students to mitigate the numerous barriers to successful completion of degree programs.   The ideals embedded in the initiatives were impressive and personally encouraging for me as an African-American.  Yet, at the completion of my traineeship, a nagging question remained as to whether the efforts would be sufficient to create a future MCH workforce representative of the multicultural populations that we serve. 

                Nearly three months later, I received my answer.  This semester I have the privilege of serving as the teaching assistant in our graduate MCH life-course survey class.  During a class discussion on cultural competence, the professor asked the students to identify a personal or professional experience that required cultural competency to address a specific issue.  Looking across a room full of the next generation of public health professionals, I was struck by two observations.  First, African-Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans accounted for approximately 12 percent of the students while the total number of non-majority students was at least 32 percent (2 to 3 percent higher than the graduate school’s percentages[i]).   Second, minorities and non-minorities alike were cognizant of the nuanced differences between cultural diversity, cultural awareness/ appreciation, and cultural competence.  The class collectively considered the latter to be an achievable goal for all public health professionals, regardless of practitioner’s racial or ethnic identity, …if given proper training.    

                I left class knowing that increasing the number of minority public health professionals is only one half of the solution to meeting the needs of the increasingly diverse MCH population.   The other half is to educate non-minorities on how to be culturally and linguistically competent as well.  It cannot be assumed that non-minorities inherently have these skills.  As we celebrate the past 75 years of Title V and look forward, I hope MCH leadership will critically consider this complementary aim in the recruitment, retention, and training of future public health professionals.  Effectively tackling pressing MCH issues such as health disparities requires reciprocal, cross-cultural relationships between minorities AND non-minorities.      

Sherika Hill, MHA

PhD student, Maternal and Child Health Department

UNC-CH Gillings School of Global Public Health

[i]UNC-CH Graduate School Admittance Data

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What I’ve Learned: An Insider’s View of the MCH Training Program

For me, the best learning experiences often happen outside the classroom.  Applying newly acquired knowledge and skills to real-world issues helps me to solidify concepts and make more connections than any exam, essay, or presentation ever could.  In fact, the 680-hour internship requirement of my master’s program was one of the main reasons I decided to enroll in the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Training program at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.  I am meeting that requirement now by spending six months at the Division of Research, Training, and Education (DRTE) in the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), which administers MCH Training Program grants.

I have learned so much about Title V-funded MCH Training during my time at DRTE.  Before this internship opportunity, I did not know about the MCH Training Program, or even realize that I was an MCH trainee!  As I became more familiar with this program, which annually affects some 27,000 trainees at 125 programs nationwide, I gained a better understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of MCH.  I never realized, for example, that I would collaborate with pediatric dentists, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists within MCH.  I also learned that the federal government has been funding MCH training since the Sheppard-Towner Act of 1922, teaching me that workforce development is a long-standing investment for the field of MCH.

My time here had also taught me a lot about myself.  By watching MCHB and DRTE prepare to develop strategic goals, I have discovered that I enjoy the process of strategic planning.  I have also confirmed my interest in a career in federal government.  While I originally had concerns about the issues with government bureaucracy, my experience has been so positive that I am already searching for federal jobs and fellowships.  Perhaps most important, the encouragement that I received from individuals at DRTE and our partner organizations has helped me to build confidence in my abilities, which I know will make me a more effective member of the MCH workforce.

In light of the 75th anniversary of Title V, I would like to offer a suggestion for the future of MCH Training.  Many trainees are ignorant of the scope of MCH Training, yet each has a unique perspective on the field of MCH.  I hope that in the future there will be more opportunities for students to engage in across-program interactions and partnerships.  Communication and collaboration are key components of MCH; how better could we prepare future MCH professionals than to provide them opportunities to develop these skills during their training?

I will miss the staff here at DRTE when I leave in December, but I do not think I will ever truly leave their ranks.  The lessons they have taught me will greatly impact my professional life, and their infectious enthusiasm and devotion to workforce development will help guide my work in MCH for the rest of my career.


MHS Candidate May 2011
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins University

Division of Research, Training, and Education

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Journey back to the 50th Anniversary of Title V

President Roosvelt signing the Social Security Act

FDR signing the Social Security Act in 1935

If you love to learn about the history of Maternal Child Health (MCH), you may want to embark on a historical video tour. In 1985, the MCH community celebrated the 50th anniversary of the enactment of Title V of the Social Security Act.  A videotape was produced that describes the history of maternal and child health efforts in the United States, including the establishment of the Children’s Bureau and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB).  MCHB at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently made this video available through the HRSA YouTube Channel. Take this journey!

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Hello MCH community!

75th Anniversary of Title V – Emerging Leaders Blog

In recognition of the rich history of its programs, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) is commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Title V of the Social Security Act.  Since 1935, under the Title V mandate, MCHB has supported continuing education, and later, graduate education programs, that develop the next generation of leaders in the maternal child health (MCH) field.   As part of the commemoration activities taking place, MCHB invites current trainees to contribute to the 75th Anniversary of Title V – Emerging Leaders Blog. 

The purpose of the 75th Anniversary of Title V- Emerging Leaders Blog is to generate discussion among MCH leadership trainees about the significance of the Title V program and its contributions to the health and well-being of women, children, adolescents and families.  The blog is a domain for trainees to share commentary, reflections and personal experiences related to the significance of Title V programs and services, as well as leadership issues related to the programs and services. 

Blog submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis through October 14, 2010.  New entries will be posted weekly in September and October (until the 75th anniversary celebration on October 20, 2010.)

Blog submissions will be may be sent to the MCH Training Resource Center at    

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