Dena Ned, a doctoral student at the University of Utah College of Social Work and a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, has been awarded one of only 15 scholarships from AcademyHealth's new Minority Scholars Program. Supported by a grant from the Aetna Foundation, the program covers a range of activities to support the professional development of underrepresented minorities in the field of health services research, with the goal of developing a pipeline of disparities researchers.
Ned was selected from among the pool of applicants for her great potential to contribute through her research addressing health disparities faced by indigenous populations. "Disproportionately, American Indians experience higher levels of physical and mental health disparities compared to the general U.S. population," explained Ned. "I'm working to identify the different meanings of federal urban Indian health policy and the ways in which those meanings are communicated. By exploring how these meanings are translated and used for health service delivery, I believe we will gain an understanding of urban Indian health, and perhaps explain why health disparities remain significant in the population."
The scholarship provides support for travel and lodging for Ned to attend AcademyHealth's Annual Research Meeting in Boston at the end of June, as well as training in research methods and attendance at the Disparities Interest Group meeting. Ned will also be matched with a mentor who is an expert in the field of health services research. "There is a critical lack of health services research concerning urban Indians," said Ned. "My mentor will guide my understanding of the research and policy arenas so I can better connect, from an indigenous perspective, how health policy is linked to the prevalence of health disparities in urban Indian communities."
"We are delighted to hear of Dena's selection for this prestigious award from AcademyHealth," said Hank Liese, associate professor and director of doctoral studies at the University of Utah College of Social Work. "Dena's dissertation research in the critical area of health disparities will no doubt be strengthened by her participation in the Minority Scholars Program."