Health Equity Series

GW Health Sciences’ core purpose is to drive innovation and quality through education, scholarship, and service. That mission includes a focus to develop competencies for all learners in healthcare quality and health equity, fitting within a broader GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences 2019-2023 strategic community goal to be nationally recognized for a measurable commitment to health equity.

A health equity professional development series is one such initiative to influence health professions education. The Department of Clinical Research and Leadership is sponsoring the five-month series to facilitate a shared understanding of health equity and its use as a lens for teaching, practicing, and service.

The series runs from September to January 2020, and is open to the GW community and the public. By the end of the series, attendees should be able to:

  • acknowledge the importance of teaching about the social, environmental, and structural factors that threaten health equity;
  • build internal capacity to create inclusive climates, policies, and practices to address the challenges of health equity; and
  • seek out equitable and sustainable institutional and community partnerships to advance health equity.

This 5-month series will take place on the 2nd Thursday of each month and cover the following topics:

  • Defining health equity
  • Social determinants of health
  • Recognizing vulnerable and socially disadvantaged U.S. populations
  • Contemporary challenges to health equity
  • Workforce equity
  • Locating health equity data sources
  • Cultural humility
  • Facilitating difficult discussions
  • Root causes of health disparities
  • Leveraging community assets through partnerships

The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences designates this regularly scheduled series for a maximum of 3.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s) ™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Series Archive

Thursday, Sept 12, 2019 (10-11am)
Session 1: Framing Health Equity Gelman rm 101 (National Churchill Library)

Maranda C. Ward, EdD, MPH
Assistant Professor, GW SMHS Department of Clinical Research and Leadership

This session focuses on key definitions and framing of health differences, health disparities, and health equity, including the social determinants of health. Attendees will learn to:

  • Distinguish between health differences, health disparities, and health equity;
  • Identify the tenets of social justice and human rights as framing principles for equity;
  • Describe social determinants of health as upstream factors promoting health equity.



Thursday, Oct 10, 2019 (10-11am)
Session 2: Health Disparities Within and Across Important U.S. Populations (University Student Center301)

Abby Charles, MPH
Senior Program Manager, Institute for Public Health Innovation

This session will identify the well-documented U.S. groups most disproportionately impacted by health disparities as well as the fiscal and scholarly practices that maintain such inequities. Attendees will learn to:

  • Identify the well-documented U.S. groups most disproportionately impacted by health disparities;
  • Acknowledge the historically under-researched U.S. populations that include LGBTQ, Native American, immigrant, and disability communities; and
  • Describe the funding, policies, and priorities that maintain gaps in knowledge, practice, and research translation to eliminate health disparities.


Thursday, Nov 14, 2019 (10-11am)
Session 3: How to Address Root Causes of Health Disparities in Teaching & Research (Ross Hall 116)

Karey M. Sutton, PhD
Director, Health Equity Research Workforce
Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)

This session will discuss how to move beyond the traditional disease-focused approach to health disparities teaching and research to include an analysis of populations and interactions among cross-cutting inequities. Attendees will learn to:

  • Identify racism and poverty as structural social determinants of health;
  • Acknowledge how mass incarceration, historical trauma, and research abuse lead to disparate health outcomes; and
  • Describe evidence-based strategies to address the root causes of health disparities within pedagogy, research, and practice.


Thursday, Dec 12, 2019 (10-11am)
Session 4: How to Talk About Race, Power, & Privilege in Gelman rm 101 (National Churchill Library)

Howard Straker, EdD, MPH, PA
Assistant Professor, GW SMHS
Director, GW PA/MPH Program

Susan LeLacheur, DrPH, PA-C
Professor, GW SMHS
Department of Physician Assistant Studies

This session will discuss how to create a safe and inclusive classroom for vulnerable conversations while sharing strategies and tools for facilitating discussions about bias; including race/class/sexuality in case studies, and teaching beyond the “hidden” curriculum. Attendees will learn to:

  • Name three common challenges that make instructors and learners feel discomfort with discussing race, power, and privilege;
  • State comfort with translating the SMHS curriculum guidelines on how to talk about social differences in case studies and discussion boards; and
  • Acknowledge the need to push back against limited canons of texts, resources, and stories that either perpetuate stereotypes or normalize dominant narratives on social identities.


Thursday, Jan 9, 2020 (10-1:30pm)Session 5: Translating Health Equity into Action Symposium in Gelman rm 101 (National Churchill Library) 

9:30-10am Check-in and Breakfast
10:00-10:15am Welcome and Overview
10:15-11:05am Roundtable, Part I.

How to Address DC Disparities
Yolanda A. Lewis-Ragland, MD
Children’s Health Center at THEARC; Clinical Pediatrician and Bariatrician
GW School of Health Sciences; Assistant Professor
Bridging The Gap Services, Medical Director

This roundtable will discuss how to engage in a meaningful relationship with historically marginalized populations in Washington, D.C.

Attendees will learn to:

  • List specific Washington, D.C. wards disproportionately impacted by health inequities;
  • Practice how to interpret health disparity data in ways that don't pathologize and stigmatize vulnerable populations; and
  • Recognize what it means to establish meaningful relationships with diverse patients and communities.

Health Workforce Equity
Candice Chen, MD, MPH
Associate Professor, GW Milken Institute of Public Health

This roundtable will highlight the need for a diverse health workforce through pipeline programs and increased funding for underutilized professions such as community based health workers and doulas. Attendees will learn to:

  • Define health workforce equity;
  • Explain how a diverse health workforce contributes to health equity; and
  • Describe the importance of promoting and funding underutilized health professions to combat health disparities.

11:05-11:15am Break
11:15-12:05pm Roundtable, Part II.

Enhancing Health Literacy
Kathleen A. Thoma, EdD, CCRP, CPH
Assistant Professor and Director of the Clinical Research Administration Undergraduate Program

This roundtable will discuss the importance of health literacy and how it impacts health equity, health behavior, health status, and access to healthcare. The educational, social and structural roots of health literacy will be addressed along with a discussion of which groups are more vulnerable to lower levels of health literacy. Strategies to enhance health literacy will be discussed. Attendees will learn to:

  • Define health literacy and how it impacts health equity, health behavior, health status, and access to healthcare.
  • Identify the educational, social and structural components of health literacy and how differences in these factors can impact disparities in health literacy.
  • Describe some strategies that healthcare professionals, educators and policymakers can use to enhance health literacy among their patients, programs, communications and policies.

Social Determinants of Mental Health:
Regina Moss Davis, PhD, MPH, MCHS
Associate Executive Director, American Public Health Association Public Health Policy and Practice

This roundtable will offer tools on how to teach and research the mental health aspects of the social determinants. Attendees will learn to:

  • Describe how the social determinants of health include mental health; and
  • Identify how to use empirical evidence in the classroom and scholarship to highlight the critical roles of social norms and public policies in shaping mental health outcomes.

12:05-12:20pm Lunch

12:25-1:25pm Health Equity Systems Approach- What is it?
This panel will discuss how academic medical centers work with public health and community partners to improve health across rural and urban America, and beyond.

Moderator: Philip M. Alberti, Ph.D.
Senior Director, Health Equity Research and Policy
Scientific Affairs
Association of American Medical Colleges

Criminal Justice Health Initiative
Newton Kendig, MD, GW Clinical Professor of Medicine
Director, Correctional Health Administration Program, GW SMHS

Innovative DC Ward 7 and 8 Partnerships- Sibley Memorial Hospital/Johns Hopkins Medicine
Marissa McKeever, Esq., Director of Government and Community Affairs
Mary Blackford, Ward 7 resident and Founder, Market 7

Funding Interdisciplinary Health Equity Efforts
Alonzo Plough, PhD, MPH, MA, Vice President and Chief Science Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Research-Evaluation-Learning

Equitable Systems Of Care Within The Context Of National Health Reform Goals
Chris King, PhD, FACHE, Georgetown University Chair/Master’s Program Director of Health Systems

1:25pm-1:30pm Closing Charge


GW HEALTH SCIENCES is a vibrant, diverse community of faculty, staff, and students across 50+ academic and research programs within the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Our highly ranked academic programs and translational research initiatives are dedicated to improving health and healthcare delivery – locally, nationally, and globally. Our core purpose is to drive innovation and quality through education, scholarship, and service. We embrace our core values of diversity and inclusion, collaboration, and innovation by investing in people; living our social mission; influencing health professions education, healthcare policy and practice, and catalyzing innovation and socially responsible entrepreneurism.