School of Public Health

SPH news

Posted Date: February 12, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Four UNTHSC School of Public Health graduates are helping to create healthier communities through their work in Fellowship programs assigned at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta.

While their responsibilities are varied and reach across different research, evaluation and health surveillance teams at the CDC, SPH graduates Amy Board, Jennifer Cole, Sandy-Asari Hogan and Brittany Marshall all agreed to share brief perspectives on their work and what led them to this stage in their careers, and to offer personal advice for current students preparing to enter the field of public health.

They represent different Fellowship programs, including ORISE (the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, U.S. Department of Energy); the ASPPH Fellowship Program through the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health; and the CDC Evaluation Fellowship Program.

CDC_Amy-BoardAmy Board, DrPH, MPH, MSW

  • ORISE Fellow for the HIV Incidence and Case Surveillance Branch, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.
  • Currently works on the Transmission and Molecular Epidemiology Team within the CDC’s HIV Incidence and Case Surveillance Branch. The team develops and improves approaches to detect and respond to clusters of recent and rapid HIV transmission within the U.S. Her role is to help evaluate the effectiveness and impact of these efforts.
  • Received her DrPH from the UNTHSC School of Public Health in 2017 and the MPH-Professional Option in 2013.
  • What she likes most about working in public health: “In public health, the community is your ‘patient,’ and the emphasis of your work is on preventing illness and disease. I love knowing that the work I do as a public health professional contributes to creating healthier communities and interrupting the spread of disease.”
  • How she got into the field: “I began my career in social work and spent four years with Catholic Charities Fort Worth in the Refugee Services Department. There I was exposed to many global health issues in both chronic and infectious diseases and realized that I wanted more training on how to make an impact on these health issues at a higher level. I had heard about UNTHSC and its public health program and thought it sounded really interesting. I wasn’t aware of public health as a career option before then, but as soon as I started the MPH program, I knew this was what I wanted to do moving forward.”
  • Advice for current students: “Take advantage of any opportunities you can while you’re in graduate school to gain practical, hands-on experiences in public health. There’s no substitute for actually going out and doing the things you learn about in your courses. I don’t think I would have considered a fellowship at the CDC if it hadn’t been for the hands-on CDC research projects I was involved in as a graduate student.”

CDC-students_ColeJennifer Cole, MPH, CPH

  • Through the ASPPH Fellowship Program, Cole is currently assigned within the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, Division of HIV AIDS Prevention, Prevention Communication Branch. In her role, she provides project officer support and technical assistance toward strategically creating and disseminating Act Against AIDS health messaging, mobilization and outreach activities. In addition to her project officer duties she serves as National Partnerships subject matter expert on two health communication campaigns- Let’s Stop HIV Together, an HIV awareness and stigma reduction campaign, and a youth HIV/STD sexual health campaign that is currently under development.
  • Received the MPH, Behavioral and Community Health, from the UNTHSC School of Public Health in 2014.
  • What she likes most about working in public health: “I enjoy working in public health because it keeps me on my toes. Things are constantly changing, with new information coming out that challenges me to learn and grow more in this field.”
  • How she got into the field: “I found my way into public health quite by accident. In undergraduate school, I was trying to find more opportunities to get involved on campus and saw a flyer about learning to be a volunteer health coach. I knew I liked people and was fascinated with health topics but didn’t know the right way to connect the two. It took me a few months of volunteering to realize I was involved in public health and that the people around me were public health professionals. From there, I allowed the story to write itself.”
  • Advice for current students: “Pursue and get involved in opportunities and experiences outside the classroom. Build relationships; your public health network can take you far if you cultivate it.”

CDC_Sandy-Asari-HoganSandy-Asari Hogan, DrPH, MPH, CHES, CPH

  • Within the CDC Evaluation Fellowship Program, Dr. Hogan is currently assigned to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Analysis, Research and Practice Integration, Program Integration and Evaluation Branch. In her primary assignment, she serves as a team evaluation officer for Core State Violence and Injury Prevention programs that focus on areas including child abuse and neglect, traumatic brain injury, motor vehicle crash injury and deaths, and intimate partner/sexual violence. She is also involved on teams addressing prescription drug and opioid-related deaths and other medication-assisted treatment.
  • Graduated from the UNTHSC School of Public Health with a DrPH in 2015 and MPH, Community Health, in 2010.
  • What she likes most about working in public health: “Public health is our best tool for improving the health of communities, building better health outcomes, mitigating disparities and promoting health equity for all.”
  • How she got into the field: “I initially wanted to pursue a career in public health because I always had a desire to help people. Public health is the best tool to improve the health of our communities. This field is more than just research, programs, interventions or the simple desire to provide help. It is the very thing that guides and governs our everyday lives, whether we are aware of it or not.”
  • Advice for current students: “Your graduate experience is your own and it will be what you make it. There will be things that challenge you, but even with your greatest challenges, there will be opportunities. Don’t rely solely on the information you get from your textbooks and in-class exercises – experience really is your best teacher. Take advantage of the opportunities to work with and learn from faculty, and pursue opportunities outside the university that align with your interests. Build those networks and strengthen those relationships, and always remember to be your own advocate!”

CDC_Brittany-MarshallBrittany Marshall, DrPH, CPH, CHES

  • Through the CDC Evaluation Fellowship Program, Dr. Marshall is currently assigned to the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Prevention Research Branch, whose mission is to conduct behavioral and operational public health research and demonstration projects to develop, test and synthesize sustainable interventions to prevent HIV transmission.
  • Her main role is to provide evaluation expertise to a three-year demonstration project (Project PrIDE) that supports state and local health departments in implementing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and the use of HIV surveillance data to identify, engage and re-engage persons in HIV care (Data to Care). Project PrIDE prioritizes Black and Latino men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender persons to in order to address health equity in these populations.
  • Received her DrPH in Public Health Practice from the UNTHSC School of Public Health in 2016.
  • What she likes most about working in public health: “I love knowing that the work I’m doing is meaningful and will affect the lives of millions. Because public health is a helping profession, I also love that my work gives back on a daily basis.”
  • How she got into the field: “I often tell people that I found public health by accident. In undergraduate school, I was a pre-pharmacy major, and one day, while waiting to meet my supervisor, I picked up a book on public health. The following semester, I took an Introduction to Public Health course, immediately changed my major to Health Education and haven’t looked back.”
  • Advice for current students: “Use any and every opportunity that comes your way to get experience in the field and network. Yes, it’s important to have excellent grades, but the tangible experience and relationships you build with others in public health are what will get you the job after you cross the stage with your diploma.”


Posted Date: February 7, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Marcy-Paul_IsraelDr. Marcy Paul has spent a lifetime following the teachings of Tikkun Olam, the Jewish concept of “repairing the world.”

The foundations of Dr. Paul’s work in public health today, and her belief that every person has a responsibility to make the world better, have deep roots back to the convictions of her family, faith and upbringing.

As Assistant Professor of Health Behavior and Health Systems in the UNTHSC School of Public Health, Dr. Paul’s research and teaching is focused on social justice, health equity and improving quality of life in maternal and child health as a means of building healthier communities for current and future generations.

Her research in these areas, which began locally in Fort Worth and Tarrant County, extended in recent years to a larger, global perspective through connections with Israel and now a new appointment to co-chair a U.S. Academic Task Force on women in multicultural communities as the fabric for strengthening overall community health.

Through the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Western Galilee Central Area Partnership Consortium, Dr. Paul will serve as co-chair in this new position with Dr. Janan Faraj Falah, Professor and Chair of Gender Studies at the Arab Academic College of Education in Israel.

The two first met when Dr. Paul was invited to speak to a class of future teachers at the college, and in addition to working on research projects since, they have also developed a close family friendship.

“What started out as a one-time class lecture turned into a larger experience for all of us,” Dr. Paul said. “My topic involved the use of Photovoice as a participatory, community-based research method of capturing people’s perceptions of their environment and assessing community needs, and as we talked, even with my rather limited Hebrew, I could tell that the students were very excited about the ideas. I gave them an impromptu Photovoice assignment of their own, along with my email address, so we could continue the conversation once I returned home.”

Since then, Dr. Paul has conducted research with multicultural Israeli populations in Western Galilee, connecting with the community’s largest government medical center and groups like “Women Cooking a Dialogue” in the Mateh Asher region, where Christians, Arabs, Bedouins, Muslims, Druze and Jewish Israelis all live and work together for a healthier environment and healthier families.

In March, she and Dr. Faraj Falah will travel to an international conference in Budapest, Hungary, to speak on the role of women in multicultural societies.

“The mutual understanding gained when communities move beyond differences to get to know each other and work together can greatly impact health and quality of life,” Dr. Paul said. “In being able to facilitate discussions on this through my research, I feel that my work in public health is bringing me back full circle to the tenets of Tikkun Olam, of repairing the world.”


Dr. Paul (right) with Dr. Janan Faraj Falah (left) and Danit Borenstein, facilitator of “Cooking a Dialogue”

Posted Date: January 26, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Carolyn-BradleyUNTHSC DrPH student Carolyn Bradley-Guidry, MPAS, PA-C, CPH has built a portfolio of service and citizenship in the area of diversity and inclusion. She serves as Assistant Professor in the UT Southwestern (UTSW) Department of Physician Assistant (PA) Studies.

Her passion for this work culminated in her appointment as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the UTSW PA program in 2015.

Her success in this role resulted in recognition at the 2017 annual Physician Assistant Education Association Education Forum in Denver, where the program was awarded the Diversity Through Excellence Award.

One of the many contributions to the UTSW PA program was the development of the program’s vision statement “to become a destination PA program for disadvantaged and underrepresented faculty, staff and students, while achieving and maintaining excellent outcome measures.”

Achievements such as these, in conjunction with her passion and vision for a diverse healthcare workforce and healthcare equity, provided the foundation for her recent promotion to Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the entire UTSW School of Health Professions.

In this new role, Bradley-Guidry’s efforts will focus on increasing diversity and inclusion among the faculty, staff and students in all six of the educational programs housed within the UTSW School of Health Professions – Physician Assistant Studies, Physical Therapy, Clinical Nutrition, Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling, Radiation Therapy and Prosthetics/Orthotics.

Bradley-Guidry credits her educational training in the DrPH program with enhancing her leadership and advocacy skills.

She plans to complete her DrPH degree from the UNTHSC School of Public Health in 2019.

Posted Date: January 23, 2018

By Sally Crocker

>Abby WinsteadPublic health student Abby Winstead made her first trip to Haiti on a ministry mission seven years ago, and when she graduates from UNT Health Science Center this spring, she will take on a full time position there to continue serving families in need.

Winstead will manage maternal and child health programming for the non-profit organization But God Ministries, which provides support through housing, education, economic development and programs addressing spirituality, medical and dental health, safe water, agriculture and nutrition.

“I fell in love with the people and the country the first time I visited,” she said. “Earthquakes, homelessness, poverty and limited access to food, clean water and sanitation have all pushed the country to the verge of collapse. But while the world might see a list of heartbreaking statistics, I see people who have managed to preserve an astounding sense of hope and pride in the face of unimaginable adversity.”

In her new role, Winstead will focus on outpatient malnutrition and programs for improving maternal and child health. Hygiene, reproductive health, breastfeeding and motherhood classes will be an important part of her responsibilities, as well as health promotion in schools.

Abby Winstead“The MPH I’m earning in Maternal and Child Health, coupled with my undergraduate degree in Kinesiology, have been key in preparing me for this position, to be able to work alongside medical providers and make a difference in community health directly and at an individual level,” she said.

Her experience with the organization over two summer internships and 12 other weeklong trips has also provided valuable preparation.

Over the years, Winstead has worked in medical and dental clinics, assisted with the transition to electronic medical records and pharmacy systems processing, built houses, partnered with Haitian staff in their responsibilities, paired children with U.S. educational sponsors, and invested in irreplaceable friendships.

Abby Winstead“I’ve helped deliver children in our clinic, and I’ve watched them grow. I’ve served alongside our Haitian staff in cooking and cleaning, because this is a partnership in my mind. Sometimes my job means going outside our gate and playing with the children and investing in young teenagers. Those are the moments I cherish the most,” she said.

The most exciting part of Winstead’s work has been that the needs and her responsibilities are continually evolving. The ultimate goal is to create sustainable support systems to help break the cycle of poverty and teach healthy behaviors that can be passed on from one generation to the next.

“Though it takes much more than small steps to alter the course of a village, it all starts somewhere, and the impact on these people’s lives is clear,” she said. “Though I’m not yet fluent in Creole, I feel a strong bond with these people that goes beyond words. I’m anxious and excited to see where this next chapter will lead as we work side by side toward a healthier Haiti.”

Posted Date: January 16, 2018

By Sally Crocker

new faculty research

Drs. Litt, Mun, Lewis and Thompson

UNT Health Science Center is poised to take on an expanded leadership role in public health education and research with the appointment of three nationally recognized alcohol and substance abuse researchers and an early-career faculty researcher focused on women’s and children’s health.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Melissa A. Lewis, Dr. Dana M. Litt, Dr. Eun-Young Mun and Dr. Erika L. Thompson to the SPH faculty,” said Dr. Dennis L. Thombs, Dean. “These new colleagues represent our commitment to building on our academic reputation and continuing to strengthen our research addressing critical public health issues of national scope.”

Drs. Lewis and Litt join UNTHSC from the University of Washington’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Mun comes to UNTHSC from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-New Brunswick, where she served as a tenured professor in the school’s Center of Alcohol Studies and Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology. Dr. Thompson joins UNTHSC from the University of South Florida, College of Public Health.  Their UNTHSC appointments are in the SPH Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems.

Drs. Lewis, Litt and Mun are currently leading or consulting on National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded projects on alcohol misuse among young adults, sexual risk taking, college sexual victimization risk and HIV, and prescription opiates and drug abuse.

Dr. Lewis is nationally recognized for her research on risky sexual behavior and alcohol use among adolescents and young adults. Her research has been funded by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, and the Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation. She has authored more than 90 peer-reviewed publications, many of which appear in top-tier addictions journals.

Dr. Litt has been funded through NIAAA for studies on alcohol use among young adults, social media impact on drinking norms among adolescents, alcohol-related risk interventions and ways to motivate campus change. She has authored 26 peer-reviewed journal articles and four book chapters on health behaviors, alcohol, sexual risk taking and adolescent marijuana use and abuse.

Dr. Mun is a nationally recognized expert in using “big data” to design and analyze alcohol intervention trials. Her current R01 research project is designed to utilize data more efficiently and meaningfully to guide health recommendations. Her research has been continuously supported by NIH since 2010, and she was recognized last year as having one of the most exciting new projects funded by NIH at the Inaugural NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival. She has authored more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles, 14 book chapters and three advanced textbooks.

Dr. Thompson has been involved in maternal and child health research projects related to sexual and reproductive health issues, women’s health issues and human papillomavirus prevention. She has authored 36 peer-reviewed publications in public health and health behavior journals. She is Chair of the Education and Mentoring Committee of the Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health.

Posted Date: January 10, 2018

By Sally Crocker

mChat-photoIn 2012, a group of UNTHSC faculty were approached with a unique opportunity. Millions of dollars had suddenly become available through Medicaid to fund innovative health care delivery projects for low-income and uninsured patients. The catch? Funding was performance-based, awarded as successful progress was proven. The Health Science Center could lose money if the projects did not meet their goals.

Dr. Scott Walters, UNTHSC Professor and Chair of Health Behavior and Health Systems in the School of Public Health, was asked to design a project focused on behavioral health.

“This was really unlike a traditional grant where the funder thinks you have a good idea and gives you money to conduct the project,” he said. “Not only did UNTHSC front millions of dollars, but it also had to take the risk that the projects would go well. Nobody had ever seen anything like this before.”

“I pay more attention to my health now. I stopped smoking and started exercising. Every morning, I would get a text reminder to take my medication and go for a walk, and that kept me motivated. I had been eating a lot of junk food at night, but the reminders made me think twice about reaching for cookies, so I would get a piece of fruit instead. Now I feel like I can continue on my own.”Sidney Taylor

In partnership with Dr. Emily Spence-Almaguer, UNTHSC School of Public Health Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Community Engagement and Health Equity, Dr. Walters’ team designed, a technology-assisted health coaching program for people residing in permanent supportive housing (PSH) in Fort Worth. About 75% of PSH residents have a chronic health condition; two thirds have active substance use, and more than half have active mental health symptoms. PSH residents tend to have substantially higher health care costs compared to the general population. mChat photoThe program matched PSH residents with a health coach, who met with them monthly over 18 months to set goals around diet, exercise, substance use, medication compliance and other areas. The program’s special software and system for reminders helped clients stay motivated and track progress along the way. The project enrolled 653 clients over four years. Most people chose to work on diet (62%) and exercise (60%). About 41% wanted to make changes in substance use, and 26% wanted to improve their level of social support. The pace of the project and performance-based reimbursement pushed the team to constantly adapt to new challenges. “In our first year, part of the funding was tied to enrolling 300 people fitting a certain profile. In a typical project, if you are meeting 80 or 90% of your goal, that’s a success. Under the Waiver mechanism, though, we were required to meet the full 100%,” Dr. Walters said.

“Being able to stop smoking has been my biggest accomplishment. I had tried to quit before but was struggling. My coach didn’t judge me. I was able to be very honest with him, and it helped to have someone to talk to. I worked on meal planning and lost weight, and the text messages reminded me to go walking twice a day. In the fall I started working on my associate’s degree online. I know I can do it now. Even if it gets hard, I don’t want to quit.” Sharon Simon

Despite many barriers to improving health, people who participated in showed substantial improvements: over 12 months, 23% increased their fruit and vegetable intake, 40% decreased sweet intake, and 49% decreased fat intake. People who set a goal to improve physical activity had far less sitting time and far more activity over 12 months, nearly doubling their number of active minutes per week. Depression scores went down by one-third, and more than one-third of substance abusers quit. “The unique impact of was in the way it addressed a broad range of behaviors affecting people’s health,” Dr. Walters said. “We demonstrated that people can improve their overall health, sometimes in more than one area, despite very difficult circumstances.” From a funding standpoint, the project was also a success, fully meeting its metrics each year. Projects like demonstrate UNTHSC’s ability to innovate quickly in response to a unique funding mechanism, resulting in win-win situations for the university and the community.

“Through different activities, I collected enough ‘Chat Bucks’ to buy things I couldn’t afford, like a mattress, groceries, laundry detergent. It makes you feel better about yourself and gives you something positive to look forward to”Pamela Wilson

Posted Date: January 3, 2018

By Sally Crocker

tornado pic car tornado pic 2

Through a CDC grant made possible by the American Planning Association-Texas and the Texas Public Health Association, a UNT Health Science Center instructor and students are leading an effort to help small and rural communities prepare for potential disaster situations.

With support from the UTA Urban Planning Department, the team, led by Dr. Melissa Oden from the UNTHSC School of Public Health, has developed a rural community disaster preparedness tool kit. The kit will be rolled out across the country in 2018 and will be available online for towns and cities this spring.

The project started in response to relief efforts for Van Zandt County, Texas, which was struck by a series of seven tornadoes in late April 2017. The National Weather Service classified two of the tornadoes as Category 3 and 4, ranging between 136 and 200 mph. One of the clusters, a mile wide in scope, was on the ground for 52 minutes.

tornado pic_Oden team“One of the important things learned from this tragedy is the need for rural communities to have disaster plans in place, to prepare for potential scenarios, outline immediate response and designate follow-up recovery efforts,” Dr. Oden said. “Large cities have plans, but rural communities often don’t. People need to know their roles and responsibilities in a disaster.  The tool kit that we’ve developed can be used for any situation, such as tornado, fire or flood.”

CDC’s goal with the grant was to build collaboration between county and city planners and public health professionals, to think “pre-disaster,” Dr. Oden said.

“In telling the story of Van Zandt, we hope to be able to help others in the future. A very bad thing happened to the good people of this community, and through focus groups and other data collection, they have given us valuable insight into what they wish they had known before the disaster and what they would tell others to help them prepare,” she said.

The team’s first site visit involved nearly four hours of surveying the damage, and the most recent visit was to share ideas for the toolkit and gain feedback from invitees across seven area counties.

tornado_roundtableThe toolkit will become part of the website where donations are currently being accepted to help Van Zandt County continue in its recovery efforts:

“The process of rebuilding has been slow, in part because the county’s damage threshold, while devastating, didn’t reach the measures for national disaster relief. Thanks to grassroots fundraising and partnerships between citizens, local government and outside agencies, the last family who had been forced to live in temporary housing for more than six months was finally able to move home before the holidays,” Dr. Oden said.

UNTHSC students Orji Okereke and Christian Chukwuma, both from the MPH program, worked alongside Dr. Oden, with student Kelsey Poole from UTA, who was responsible for social media on the project. Okereke and Poole will continue working on the project in the spring and will be joined by another interning UNTHSC public health student.

For other stories on this project, visit:

East Texas tornadoes case study to help rural communities prepare for and deal with disasters


Life after Tornadoes

Posted Date: December 11, 2017

By Sally Crocker

MHA Case Competition

The winning UNTHSC team with executive coach Paul Aslin from Wise Health System

A team of UNT Health Science Center MHA students has taken the top prize at this year’s American College of Healthcare Executives North Texas (ACHENTX) Case Competition.

Tasked with a real-world challenge, much like projects they will take on in their future careers as health care leaders, teams from UNTHSC and other North Texas universities went head to head on a case for “Humana’s Bold Goal: 20 Percent Healthier by 2020.”

The case focused on Humana’s plan to improve health in the communities it serves and make it easy for people to achieve their best health. Students were asked to develop and present a proposal for measuring the business performance and clinical progress along the way.

Members of the UNTHSC winning team were Crystal Bui, Liana Cherian, Monica Kovuri, Laci Sherman and Ela Vashishtha.

The team was coached by Paul Aslin, FACHE, Senior Vice President and Chief Population Officer with Wise Health System, who shared on LinkedIn, “For the second year in a row, I had the privilege of being the executive coach to the winning team of the North Texas ACHE Student Case Competition; for both years, the winners were from UNTHSC.”

Texas Institute for Surgery President David A Helfer FACHE, CMPE, ACC, BCC, who served as lead judge for the competition, was extremely complimentary of the students’ work.

“The initial written submission by UNTHSC’s winning team was exceptionally well crafted, organized and on point with the assignment.  As such, they were selected to move on to the live presentation round,” he said.

“As they launched their presentation, it became clear that they had quickly learned how to work with one another, and both the content and delivery were nearly flawless.  They were well prepared to answer the judges’ questions and even had back-up material that was not part of the main presentation, suggesting critical thinking and planning skills,” he said. “We understand that all the groups worked hard to reach the final round, but this team from UNTHSC stood out.”

The win has special significance for Ela Vashishtha, who has presented at three case competitions this year, regionally, statewide and nationally. In April, she was on the UNTHSC team that won for their “Transforming Galveston” proposal at the George McMillan Fleming Center for Healthcare Management’s annual student challenge event in Houston.

“This time, we were working on two case competitions at once; participating on a national level really helped improve our presentation skills and gave us a learning experience we could bring back to the North Texas competition,” she said. “The judges were impressed with the way we presented Humana’s Bold Goal in relation to a patient story. They also liked our approach, acting as consultants, and the way we developed proposal materials and business cards that visually aligned with Humana’s brand.”

MHA Case Competition

UNTHSC’s second competing team, with MHA Program Director Martin Ostensen and health care leadership expert Rulon Stacey, PhD (fourth and fifth from left, respectively)

This year, a second UNTHSC team was approved to join the North Texas competition as well, giving a group of first-year MHA students a chance to see how it works.

MHA Program Director Martin Ostensen, JD, MBA, MHA, called the opportunity “a great learning experience and a chance for the group to network with top-level health care executives from around the area.”

Members of the first-year team were Zachary Lueck, Aakshita Monga, Mark-David Onomeyovwe, Hector Rodriguez and Cassandra Umeh, coached by Bob Ellzey, FACHE, President of Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Azle.

“As first-year students, our team gained an invaluable experience, allowing us to recognize our strengths and use them in a proactive fashion,” Rodriguez said.  “We learned a few things about our individual shortcomings and how valuable it is to surround yourself with other people who are willing to help.  Every single team member was a leader at one point or another throughout the process, and whoever had a stronger background on a topic would take the lead whenever we hit a roadblock.”

With diverse backgrounds, each person brought different skills and perspectives to the table.

“My background is in non-profit management and health care policy. Cassie worked in a clinic and also has one year of medical school under her belt. Mark-David has an economic background and is an Army veteran. Aakshita graduated from dental school in India, and Zach previously worked as a scribe and, most recently, in the HR department of a major architectural firm,” Rodriguez said.

In addition to drawing on the unique talents and ideas of teammates, the students in both groups also sought guidance from UNTHSC faculty and executive leadership. Some of the university’s resident experts included Steve Sosland, Executive Vice President/Chief People and Performance Officer; Dr. Thomas Fairchild, Vice President for Organizational Excellence;  and Dr. Thomas W. Diller and Dr. Wonseok Choi, Associate Professors, Health Behavior and Health Systems.

Posted Date: November 16, 2017

By Sally Crocker

Ramphal Naley doctor bag
Thirty-eight years ago, Dr. Lilly Ramphal-Naley received a special gift on her medical school graduation day, and now she has passed it on to a UNTHSC public health graduate who will soon be caring for patients himself.

The gift- a doctor’s bag – is probably over 100 years old.

It was presented to Nnamdi Maduabum, who recently passed his medical board exams and is applying for a residency position.

Dr. Ramphal-Naley served as Maduabum’s faculty mentor while he was studying for his MPH in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the UNTHSC School of Public Health (class of ’15).

After graduation, he went to work for Catholic Charities in Fort Worth as a Data and Research Specialist, and now he’s on to the next step in his career.

“This bag was given to me in 1979 by a 90-year-old doctor. He was barely standing. He brought it to my graduation. If was full of his thoughts, hopes and wishes for my future,” Dr. Ramphal-Naley said during the presentation. “I was young, but I knew it was a precious gift. So now I am passing this gift on to you.”

She advised Maduabum to “stay humble and grounded.”

“This bag is full of the voices of patients who have been cared for by a doctor before me, then by me, and now will be cared for by you,” she said. “Stay focused on them. Always apply your knowledge to do good for the most – to heal a village.”

The gift carries special meaning for Maduabum, who said, “I am honored to know that Dr. Ramphal-Naley thinks so highly of me and my desire to provide excellent medical care to the community.”

Posted Date: November 15, 2017

By Sally Crocker

When Dr. Thad Miller introduced a different kind of course project to his Health Insurance and Managed Care class, he knew it would be interesting, but he had no idea that it would result in one of the university’s largest and most collaborative Grand Rounds in many years.

How did a unique teaching experiment go so far and have such an impact?

“I know that when I’m personally learning new information or a new subject, it really comes alive for me if I have a chance to use the concepts in practice,” Dr. Miller said. “I wanted to give the class that kind of hands-on opportunity, to dig deeper into a very complex topic that would take them beyond the more traditional path of lectures and exams, so they could learn by doing.”

Dr. Miller challenged the class to engage across the UNTHSC campus, community and health care industry to plan and produce a Grand Rounds continuing education presentation for students, faculty, health professionals and others in the fields of medicine and public health.

In addition to a standing-room-only crowd on campus, an online audience from eight states tuned in to the webcast for Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit, viewing from Texas, California, Arizona, Utah, Alabama, Michigan, South Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Dr. Miller first connected the class with Leslie Herman, MLS, MBA, CHCP, Program Manager for INCEDO UNT Health Science Center, a nationally-accredited provider for continuing education activities and programs both live and online. The idea proposed was to explore the challenges of today’s health care environment with a panel of insurance and provider experts.

INCEDO liked the proposal for its educational value and because it fit accreditation guidelines for including students in the planning process.

“It was a valuable experience for the class to work with panelists from diverse health care business settings to examine how the payer/provider/regulatory sectors connect, and to gain a firsthand look ‘behind the curtain’ to see what goes into planning a continuing education activity where specific goals and desired outcomes align to inform a targeted audience,” Herman said. “This was the first time in my three years with UNTHSC that I’ve worked with students developing a Grand Rounds as part of a class project.”

Herman met regularly with the students, and Dr. Miller provided guidance along the way, connecting the class with leads on speakers and others within the university who could help.

“The Office of Brand Communication advised on messaging to present the story of ‘Insurance in a Dynamic Marketplace,’ and UNTHSC media spokesperson Jeff Carlton coached our moderators on effective panel interview techniques,” Dr. Miller said.

The School of Public Health agreed to underwrite costs for event, which was provided free to participants.

“The funding commitment from the Dean demonstrated confidence in what our students are doing. This is consistent with the mission of connecting our students with the community and the professional world,” Dr. Miller said.

The class broke into teams to start, electing an executive committee and sub-groups who would reach out to speakers, coordinate with INCEDO, develop questions for the panelists in line with CME guidelines, and plan hospitality and after-event follow up.

Dr. Miller’s active role minimized once the class took the lead. He advised the teams to avoid saying they were working on a class project, so they could take a higher-level approach in their conversations with speakers and others involved.

UNT Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Eric H. Beck, D.O., M.P.H., was recruited as a panelist, along with Paul Hain, MD, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, North Texas Market President, and William (Doug) Wallace, JD, Fraud Prosecutor with the Texas Department of Insurance, Fort Worth.

Student Laci Sherman (MHA candidate, class of ’18), who coordinated with Blue Cross Blue Shield as one of the class team leads, said the experience “brought the whole topic to light,” taking it a step beyond what’s presented in class.

“It gave us a great opportunity to network with professionals in the industry, learn more about the future of health care, and gain valuable project management and organizational skills that will help in our careers,” she said.

Dr. Miller said a big benefit to this teaching tool has been the new relationships formed with industry leaders, as well as increased awareness of what UNTHSC students can do.

Dr. Beck agreed, calling the event “a wonderful proof point for the value of One University and how UNTHSC is uniquely positioned as the producer of contemporary practitioners for the health care delivery system of the future – one focused on improving health for populations and communities.”