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Grant will create fellowships for researchers with disabilities at WSU

Portrait of Dr. Jae Kennedy
Portrait of Dr. Jae Kennedy
Dr. Jae Kennedy, chair and professor of the College of Nursing’s Department of Health Policy and Administration.

Research scientists with disabilities are underrepresented in the health sciences, yet such scholars bring needed perspective to understanding and improving health policies and services for people with disabilities.

A new federal grant will help WSU hire three post-doctoral students with disabilities to become academic researchers, with the goal of having them go on to faculty positions at major universities or leadership roles in federal research agencies and nonprofit foundations.

The five-year, $750,000 award from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research will provide a competitive salary, full benefits, and support for any needed workplace assistance or adaptive technologies.

Called the Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living Fellowship (CHRIL-F), the positions “will bring new scholars with disabilities to the table, and provide them the skills and support they will need to enlarge the policy debate,” said Jae Kennedy, principal investigator, professor and chair of the Department of Health Policy and Administration in the WSU College of Nursing.

The three fellows will be hired by WSU in staggered terms over the five-year grant, and will spend 18 months taking graduate courses, working on research grant proposals and journal manuscripts, and developing individual plans of research. They can spend three to six months of the fellowship at one or more affiliate sites, including Washington DC, Houston, or Lawrence, Kansas.

Grant funding can also be used for conference travel, which typically is more difficult and costly for people with disabilities, but which is critical for networking and presenting research work.  The specific uses of support funds will depend on the needs of the fellows hired, but could include office space reconfiguration, or hiring a personal aide or interpreter.

With this grant, “We propose building a small but sturdy pipeline for disability researchers with disabilities by designing postdoc positions specific to their needs,” Kennedy said.

Besides Kennedy, the project team includes Roberta Carlin, director of the American Association on Health and Disability; Lex Frieden, a professor of bioinformatics and rehabilitation at the University of Texas in Houston; Jean Hall, a professor and director of the Institute for Health and Disability Policy at the University of Kansas; and Elizabeth Wood, a research associate in the Department of Health Policy and Administration at WSU.

The same team makes up the Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living (CHRIL), established by Kennedy under a $2.5 million federal grant to bring together disability advocates and researchers to investigate how the Affordable Care Act and related legislation affects the lives of adults with disabilities.

“The members of the CHRIL have personal, professional, and political experience with disability, and many contacts throughout the research and disability communities,” Kennedy said. “We are not just advocates and researchers who happen to have disabilities: disability is central to what we do and why we do it.”

New Year, New Master’s Degree

This January, WSU Spokane’s Department of Health Policy and Administration (MHPA) officially joined the WSU College of Nursing, adding to and enhancing graduate degree offerings. “Students will gain access to complementary courses and electives across programs (the MHPA and the college’s existing Master of Nursing program). Research collaboration across disciplines will continue for faculty and students, adding to the interprofessional education foundational to the WSU Spokane Health Sciences campus,” said Cindy Fitzgerald, associate dean for academic affairs.

BACKGROUND
The MHPA has been offered since 1995 at WSU Spokane, and the Department of HPA was established in 2002, making it the first Department to be established and located at an urban campus. Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) in 2000 and re-accredited in 2012, the MHPA program has graduated more than 150 students to date.

PROGRAM OVERVIEW
The MHPA program at WSU is highly personalized and exceptionally rigorous, requiring a 3-credit internship and an individual project or thesis. Class sizes are small (12-20 students) and require active engagement in course discussions, guest lectures, site visits, and group projects. The curriculum is designed to facilitate both full- and part-time participation for working
professionals, with courses scheduled on weekday evenings (typically 4:00 to 6:30 p.m.). Graduates of the program work in a wide range of career fields including hospital management, public health, managed care, group practice management, financial management, and more. » More …