New faculty position to develop innovative solutions to population health challenges

New faculty position to develop innovative solutions to population health challenges

The University of Washington Schools of Nursing and Public Health have been awarded funding for a new joint faculty position that will focus on developing innovative solutions to the three population health grand challenges outlined by the UW Population Health Initiative.

The new faculty member, to be hired during the 2018-2019 academic year, will work to address the urgent need for better early childhood and youth interventions. The role would focus initially on the Best Starts for Kids program.

Best Starts for Kids is an initiative to improve the health and well-being of King County by investing in prevention and early intervention for children, youth, families and communities who are at risk for a host of chronic diseases.

The initiative is expected to be the most comprehensive approach to early childhood development in the nation, supporting families through prenatal care, birth, early childhood and adolescence. The initiative was made possible by a voter-approved levy to fund prevention and early intervention strategies to improve the health and wellbeing of children, youth and their communities.

“The Best Starts for Kids program is an innovation that focuses on social, economic, and racial equity,” said Azita Emami, executive dean of the UW School of Nursing. “It seeks to fulfill the often-made but rarely-kept promise of equal opportunity — opportunity that is often rendered inaccessible because of a child’s race, economic status, or social standing. Best Starts for Kids is, above all else, a program about equity in access to good health, equity in educational access, and an equal chance to succeed based on a best start in life.”

A catalyst

This faculty position will be the catalyst that binds together multiple UW schools, departments and resources while leveraging a developing partnership with Public Health—Seattle & King County to address the Population Health Initiative’s grand challenges at a local level.

“This position recognizes that without a multifaceted, interdisciplinary, collaborative effort we are unlikely to meet, in any meaningful way, the Population Health Initiative grand challenges,” Emami said. “We want to assure ongoing interplay between departments and disciplines that are too often isolated from one another, because this isolation is limiting rather than inspiring.”

Bridge against future retirements

The award is a four-year “bridge” against future retirements and was among three selected through a competitive application process that required proposal of a joint hire between two or more academic departments.

“Our goal in providing these central funds was to augment our already rich network of population health tenure-track faculty with new faculty who explicitly represent the cross-disciplinary collaboration that is essential to the Initiative’s success,” said Gerald Baldasty, UW provost and executive vice president. “We believe these hires will serve as a model and inspiration for others to follow in terms of how we address major local and global population health challenges.”

Recruiting process

Recruitment for the position will begin this Spring.

The new faculty member will be based in the School of Nursing Department of Psychosocial and Community Health with an adjunct appointment in the School of Public Health Department of Health Services.

The new faculty member will nurture the development of programs and collaborations under the mentorship, in part, of Dr. Betty Bekemeier. Bekemeier is a tenured School of Nursing professor and track lead for the DNP-Population Health program. She is also an adjunct professor in the School of Public Health and serves as Director of the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice. The new faculty member will work with Bekemeier, given her expertise as a distinguished public health systems researcher focused on improving the effectiveness of our prevention systems.

Bekemeier has a long history of working with prevention systems for children and families, and of conducting practice-based research with Public Health – Seattle & King County and other public health systems around the state and region. She has strong connections with the public health practice community in King County and beyond and has mentored students participating in the implementation of Best Starts for Kids.

Primary mentoring will also be provided by the renowned implementation scientist, Dr. Bryan Weiner, in the School of Public Health Department of Health Services. Weiner’s research focuses on the adoption, implementation, and sustainability of innovations and evidence-based practices in health care delivery and other organizational settings. He has studied a wide range of innovations including collaborative service delivery models. His research has advanced implementation science by creating new knowledge about the organizational determinants of effective implementation, introducing and developing new theories, and improving the state of measurement in the field.