WMU-Grand Rapids Program Receives Grant for Case Study Addressing Cultural Competency in Public Health Care Collaboration with Native Americans

by Tyler Lecceadone
June 9, 2017 | Extended University Programs News

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Western Michigan University’s Grand Rapids regional location recently received grant funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research to develop curricula aimed at improving cultural competency for health professions students. The grant awards nearly $14,700 for the project, which focuses on addressing diabetes and tobacco use among Native Americans.

An interprofessional partnership within the WMU College of Health and Human Services, the grant was proposed by Dr. Shannon McMorrow assistant professor for the WMU-Grand Rapids Master of Public Health program, along with Dr. Dee Sherwood and Dr. Vivian Valdmanis, program coordinators of the WMU-Grand Rapids Master of Social Work programs and Master of Public Health programs, respectively. Together, the faculty members aim to utilize the funding to design an effective case study that will be distributed nationwide by the two funding organizations.

“Our approach is based on evidence-based practices for sustainable and equitable community health promotion,” said McMorrow, principle investigator for the grant project. “This is an important issue within the Native American communities and we are pleased that the CDC and Association for Prevention Teaching and Research have chosen us to develop the needed curriculum.”

The project, titled "Enhancing the Circle of Health: Culturally Competent Public Health-Health Care Collaboration to Address Type 2 Diabetes and Tobacco Reduction in Native American Communities," began May 1. The case study will engage graduate students on how to communicate with Native Americans in a culturally appropriate manner about health matters. It also includes collaboration with the Western Regional Area Health Education Center, other health partners and local Native American community members.

“It is essential that we educate future health professionals, including public health and social work students to be culturally competent. In doing so, we must actively work together to dismantle long held stereotypes and stigmatization of Native American communities,” said Sherwood. “Our over-arching goal is to make sure that Native voices are included in the development of the curriculum.”

Sherwood has an extensive track record of collaboration with Native American communities in Michigan, and Valdmanis contributes experience in economic evaluation of programs of disenfranchised populations, including Native Americans.