SPH Addresses Structural Racism in Maternal and Child Health Programs

Charlie Plain | January 25, 2017

Many programs at U.S. universities face the challenging reality that they are not as diverse as the populations they serve. The federal government has recognized that this is especially true in maternal and child health (MCH) and has called on select MCH training programs to collaboratively examine ways to increase the diversity in their curriculum, faculty, and students. The School of Public Health is part of that effort and is leading a university-wide team to explore barriers for diversity in MCH programs.

“Our goal is to focus on structural racism, how it might affect student and faculty diversity, and how we can change the curriculum to better educate on how structural racism may affect public health,” says team leader Associate Professor Ruby Nguyen.

The team includes faculty and staff from the University of Minnesota’s MCH training programs, including:

Nguyen and the multidisciplinary UMN team are undertaking the project as a part of the Health Resources and Service Administration’s 2017 Diversity in Maternal and Child Health Training Peer Learning Collaborative. The agency created the program to help chosen university teams promote diversity through their faculty, curriculum, student recruitment, and student retention practices in order to better prepare graduates to serve diverse communities. The program provides money and opportunities for teams to work together through workshops and meetings, monthly webinars, and web tools for sharing information.

“There is no gold standard to follow,” says Nguyen. “Working with the collaborative is going to be particularly helpful for our University’s MCH training programs because other programs may have developed best practices that may complement what we are currently implementing, and vice versa.”

The team plans to use what it learns through the collaborative to develop a half-day training session for Minnesota’s MCH training programs that could later be adapted for use by other schools or universities.

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