Virtual Research Exchange Will Mentor Diverse Health Care Leaders Through U21 Network
The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly altered the research field, leading to institutions struggling to keep career development connections and networks. The virus may also contribute to increasing the research divide, specifically for underrepresented Early Career Researchers (ECR’s) and doctoral students.
Racial and ethnic groups who are underrepresented in Health Management, Services and Policy fields tend to face unique obstacles when it comes to career success.
Health Policy and Management Professor Negin Fouladi has received funding from Universitas 21 to address this through the development of a new “Health Research Exchange (HREx)” platform that will highlight diversity, inclusion and “culturally sensitive evidence-based research mentorship and professional development.” The University of Maryland is a member of Universitas 21 (U21), a network of 27 research-intensive universities around the globe.
Some of the challenges underrepresented researchers face include feeling alone, having few collaboration opportunities and having a hard time getting funding and mentorship. The recent civil unrest against racial injustice has helped amplify these challenges.
To combat these obstacles and promote representation across health care systems, Dr. Fouladi has teamed up with colleagues at the University of Birmingham to launch the new project: “Thriving in a Post COVID age: An International Collaboration And Career Development Tool to Increase Diversity and Inclusion in Healthcare Management, Health Services and Health Policy Research.”
“It’s more important than ever to strengthen connections and train the next generation of researchers to be health care leaders,” Fouladi said. “Over the past year, we’ve seen the pandemic expose weaknesses of health systems around the world to improve population health as well as persistent inequalities in research and practice.”
The goal is to build a “sustainable, interdisciplinary and collaborative network” to push research and career development at the forefront during unprecedented and unpredictable times, Fouladi detailed.
After its initial launch, the HREx will be made available to all member universities, and ultimately serve as a one-stop-shop to advance health care research training, career development and leadership opportunities within the Universitas 21 network.
HREx will support Universitas 21’s recently launched e-learning platform, U21 Community, which offers a virtual networking space for students and staff from U21 institutions.
In addition to Fouladi, three UMD Health Policy and Management students are helping to lead the project: Portia Buchongo (PhD ’23), Aitalohi Amaize (PhD ’22) and Stephanie Bryant, MPH '21.