Plenary of the 2019 National Clinician Scholars Program (NCSP)
Photos: Hoag Levins
PHILADELPHIA — Addressing the Third national Annual Meeting of the National Clinician Scholars Program (NCSP), Catherine Alicia Georges, PhD, MA (above), urged the audience to “make your voices heard, not only on the critical issue of coverage, quality and affordability, but also on the upstream factors of social determinants that drive the deeply troubling disparities and inequities that your research now documents.” Georges is the National Volunteer President at AARP and Chair of the Nursing Department at City University of New York’s Lehman College.

Successor to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars program, NCSP was launched in 2016 in partnership with four schools and later expanded to six: Duke, UCLA, UCSF, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania and Yale. Open to scholars who have completed their medical degree, PhD in Nursing, or Doctor of Nursing Practice, the intense two-year curriculum is designed to train doctors and nurses to be change agents driving policy-relevant health care research. Penn’s NCSP program is co-directed by David Grande, MD, MPA, Raina Merchant, MD, MSHP, and Julie Sochalski, PhD, FAAN, RN. All three are LDI Senior Fellows.

Hosted by the University of Pennsylvania’s NCSP, this natioinal NCSP event took place in the Sofitel Philadelphia at Rittenhouse Square, bringing together NCSP Scholars and alumni, RWJF Clinical Scholars alumni, board members, and community partners.

“The annual meeting is a real highlight of the National Clinician Scholars Program,” said Alison Buttenheim, PhD, MBA, Chair of the NCSP National Meeting Committee on Arrangements and LDI Senior Fellow. “This one gave our scholars the opportunity to hear from leaders working at the front lines of health policy and health systems change — from Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, HHS Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, to Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine. This meeting also showcased the scholars’ own research. Philadelphia was the perfect setting — we had a morning fun run to the Rocky steps and celebrated together on our final evening at the Mutter Museum.”
Perelman School of Medicine Dean Larry Jameson, MD, PhD (above, left), told the clinicians, “So much of our focus is on pathophysiology, treatments, and the complications of treatments, we spend less time on health care policy and its importance. But while the system feels so complex and unchangeable, there are a lot of elements within our control and we need, as individuals closest to health care, to give deep thought to the questions of how do we innovate? How do we shape change for the health of our populations?” He pointed to two major innovations within Penn that are doing that: The Heart Safe Motherhood program, co-founded by Sindhu Srinivas, MD, MSCE, and the Penn Center for Community Health Workers, founded by Shreya Kangovi, MD, MSHP. Srinivas is the Director of Obstetrical Services at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania; Kangovi is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Perelman School. Both are LDI Senior Fellows.
Above, right, Penn School of Nursing Dean and LDI Senior Fellow Antonia Villarruel, PhD, RN, stressed the importance of thinking and working in an interdisciplinary manner, citing examples of two that are making a difference: The Penn Center for Nutritional Science and the Penn Injury Science Center. “These kinds of initiatives wouldn’t happen if you didn’t have schools of nursing and schools of medicine working together as they are in all NCSP program sites.” She closed with the line from a case study presentation earlier in the day: “The NCSP program is informed by science and powered by leadership, and that leadership is you.”
Introducing the keynote speaker was Jasmine Travers, PhD, AGPCNP, RN and herself a Scholar in the Yale NCSP. Keynote Catherine Alicia Georges, said, “We must make social determinants much stronger factors in policymaking. We’ve made meaningful progress in health care for people of all ages through the passage of the ACA and its now almost universally accepted conclusion that people should be covered for pre-existing conditions.
“But we need to build on that progress by insisting that social determinants are not an appendage or an afterthought, but instead, are at the heart of discussions and decisions about how to improve people’s health,” Georges continued. “Another subject very much in need of more scholarship and leadership is caregiving,” she continued. “What are the health effects? There are over 40 million unpaid caregivers in this country. Twenty-five percent of them are in your age group. That’s something we need to be looking at.”
Chatting during a break are Ebony Boulware, MD, MPH, Chief of Duke’s Division of General Internal Medicine and Director of the Duke NCSP, and Judith Long, MD, Chief of the Penn Division of General Internal Medicine and LDI Senior Fellow.
Co-Director of the Penn NCSP and LDI Senior Fellow Raina Merchant, MD, MS, catching up with long-time colleague Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH, former HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and currently a senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School.