Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2013

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: http://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/169650

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Page 41 of 71

We Mean Business > Patients were getting excellent care, but we still saw differences in outcomes within certain groups. had any disparities. Patients were getting excellent care, but we still saw diferences in outcomes within certain groups. One area that we targeted two years ago was the African American population and the risk of premature death from cardio disease or kidney failure—due to something as basic as controlling high blood pressure. We identifed discrepancies in those areas, and we established teams to begin the pilot interventions. What evolved was a core set of four or fve interventions, such as certain medicines, protocols for adjusting medication, and leverage for patient-to-patient support. In Ohio, we eliminated the disparities between African Americans and other populations as to how their blood pressure was controlled. Another area was colorectal cancer screening for Latino patients, and a lot of the cultural issues that surround having a colonoscopy or exam. We asked, "How do you address those barriers, how do you engage with those communities, and how do you do it in culturally responsible way?" Now, we are implementing some new approaches. Te verdict is still out, but we're seeing improvement already. It's amazing what you can accomplish. DW: Why did you become a doctor in the first place? RC: Tere were no doctors in my immediate family—my family was from the South and had migrated north. I had seven siblings and was raised in a home where education was a high priority. I had a natural curiosity about life sciences, but also art. I started drawing and painting in school, and one of my teachers paid to send me to an art school over one summer. Until I was 12, I thought I would be an artist, and I even sold my frst painting when I was 12. But in the ninth grade 40 D I VERSI TY WOMAN Fal l 2013 I started biology, and the frst time I dissected a frog, something changed. I fell in love with the life sciences. I went to college at Dartmouth to be a biology major, and during my sophomore year, I did an independent research project in Africa. When I was there, I ran into an African American doctor who had trained in London and had a mobile clinic that went from village to village bringing immunizations and basic care. After that experience, something just crystallized, and I came back and declared myself a premed major. DW: Why did you shift into an administrative role? RC: As I practiced medicine and as I saw the disparities—some people not having care at all—I felt the pull to have more impact, to do more than direct patient care. DW: Has it been tough not seeing patients anymore? RC: It's my frst time in 30 years not seeing patients, and I'm experiencing some withdrawal. I reconcile it by remembering that no matter how high performing I could be as a surgeon, I was still impacting only one patient at a time. I'm a product of the 1960s and 1970s, of the belief in social justice and making a diference in people's lives. So that makes me feel proud. DW: What is the biggest misconception Americans have about our health-care system? RC: Tat in America we have the best health care in the world—that's a halftruth. If you need complicated care— brain surgery, a heart transplant—there is no better place to be on the planet than here. But in terms of the entire nation having health care designed to prevent disease, people don't understand that not everybody has access to that highend care we tout around the world. From a public-health standpoint, we rank very low in the world. What we're trying to fgure out now, as a country, is how to get the best of both worlds. Health-care reform may not be perfect, but it's driving us toward asking the right questions. DW: What happened to your love of art? Do you still paint, or collect, or even just doodle? RC: All of that! I'm an art collector, and I have tons of sketches. I tell myself that I'll return to the easel one day. I'm also a jazz fan, which is art for the ears. I listen to jazz and I stay connected to that creative, intuitive side of who I am. Tere are a lot of books now about rightbrain-dominant people; the qualitative analytical personalities have dominated society for a long time. But these are interesting times—what may be seen as a sideline has a lot more value. Te lesson, then, is to be your authentic self. You never know when that skill will be valued. DW: What books have you read lately that have inspired you? RC: Te Hidden Brain, by Harvard professor Shankar Vedantam. It's about how we make decisions, how we leverage our brains. One area that has captured my imagination is a dramatic change in what we mean when we say "diversity." You say diversity and people think race, ethnicity, and maybe gender. Ever since the civil rights movement started, diversity has been aligned with that. But all of the current research around the brain related to concussion and PTSD has really enlightened us—shattering myths every day about how diferent we are, how we process behavior. Most things that we had identifed before as making people diferent are pretty superfcial. Most of what really makes us diferent is way below the waterline. DW Katrina Brown Hunt, based in San Diego, has written for Fortune Small Business and Smart Money. d i v e r s i ty w oma n.com

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