2022-2023 Fesler Lampert Chair in Aging Studies: Shekinah Fashaw-Walters, PhD

Shekinah Fashaw-WaltersShekinah Fashaw-Walters, PhD

I am a tenure-track assistant professor of health equity and aging in the Division of Health Policy and Management within the School of Public Health. I received my PhD at Brown University in May of 2021 after completing my dissertation on home health inequities in access, outcomes, and the impact of public reporting. As a trained health services researcher, I evaluate how organizational structures, policies, and racism influence access to and quality of healthcare. My long-term research goal is to generate evidence that has the potential to prevent and/or ameliorate health disparities within and access to home- and community-based services. Providing quality care for all means dismantling structural inequities and providing equitable high-quality care for the most marginalized. I envision a society where the strength, autonomy, dignity, and independence of all older adults are enhanced by LTSS policies and practices that promote healthy and equitable aging. And to get there, there is much work to be done that dismantles and undoes the nefarious impacts of racism on access to care and quality of care for older adults.

What led you to apply to the Fesler-Lampert Chair?

I saw the Fesler-Lampert Chair in Aging Studies award as building onto my dissertation work and as a pathway to advance my career in two primary ways. First, it will provide funds to allow me to seek training in mixed-methods and qualitative research. Health equity researchers commonly acknowledge that quantitative data can only tell part of the story. It is imperative to conduct qualitative and/or mixed-methods research to address “why” inequities exist. Second, this award will allow me the opportunity to build connections and partnerships with the aging community within the university and abroad, which will be important to the development of my future work in home health.

What are some of the projects you plan to work on while F-L Chair? What do you hope to achieve?

My proposed project is innovative both for the health equity and the aging research that we lead here at the university. I am excited about this new appointment because I get to try a timely and innovative approach to my work. I am trained as a quantitative researcher but through this new appointment I am gaining new expertise in mixed-methods and qualitative research. Using the public health critical race praxis, my work will focus on successful, predominately Black, home health providers to better understand the barriers and facilitators to high-quality care for their consumers. This work will also serve as the basis/preliminary study for my planned National Institute on Aging (NIA) K- or R-level submission.

What are some of your professional and academic goals after the Chair ends?

My Fesler-Lamper Chair work sits at the nexus of two leading areas here at the University of Minnesota: 1) innovative aging research and 2) antiracism research for health equity. This project will be among the first to bridge these two areas together and will continue to position the University of Minnesota as a leader in both areas. I am most excited about expanding my network here at the University of Minnesota, and more broadly throughout the Twin Cities as I work to help create a society where the strength, autonomy, dignity, and independence of all older adults are enhanced by aging policies and practices that promote healthy and equitable aging. Once the chair ends I will continue the newly formed partnerships while also developing new grant award submissions.

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