A Discussion with Carol Dawson-Rose, Chair of the Department of Community Health Systems

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In September, we held an off-site retreat where we listened to and celebrated our people, our work and our values; we recommitted our energy to the research, clinical care and service we offer to vulnerable groups. To sustain the sense of community that emerged from the retreat, one of my most important priorities is to help ensure we put in place a more transparent and inclusive decision-making process. I hope a fully engaged faculty and staff – across the department, across the School and externally with patients – creates trust and makes people happier.

That matters because, together, we have so many important decisions to make. How do we respond to the need to grow our educational, research and clinical programs? How do we change to meet the changing needs of our students? How can our occupational and environmental health program respond to new challenges, such as planetary and global health and environmental injustice? What can we do to address gender diversity in our NP programs? How can we best integrate behavioral health into primary care? Which methods increase the effectiveness of public health approaches? These examples only scratch the surface of the challenges ahead.

An equally important set of challenges involves finding ways to make our faculty clinical practices more manageable for our people and more meaningful for the School. Every single one of our clinical faculty members has an active clinical practice, many of which meet the health care needs of vulnerable populations. We have begun putting the people and processes in place – including having Gerri Collins-Bride serve as vice-chair of faculty practice – to manage these practice arrangements so they offer more benefits to the School and so that our hard-working clinical faculty can create a more livable and rewarding balance between their clinical work and their teaching responsibilities.

Carol Dawson-Rose, RN, PhD, FAAN, is chair of the Department of Community Health Systems and a member of the School's International Center for HIV/AIDS Research and Clinical Training in Nursing . Her research focuses on the intersection of mental illness, trauma, HIV and substance use, particularly among socioeconomically marginalized groups.