Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
During the summer of 2012, I was given the unique opportunity to complete an 8-week internship at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration in Rockville, Maryland. I was placed as a policy intern in the Bureau of Health Professions’ Division of Nursing (DN) – Nursing Workforce Diversity (NWD) program. The DN was established in 1946 and is the key federal focus for nursing education and practice. The DN provides national leadership to ensure an adequate supply and distribution of qualified nursing personnel to meet the health needs of the nation. It administers several programs under legislative authority.
I was primarily responsible for conducting research and evaluation of the NWD program using a social determinants of health framework to examine former and current NWD grantees’ reported strategies and outcomes regarding enrollment, retention, and graduation of individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds in nursing programs. I coordinated the development of a coauthored manuscript, in which we reported the results of the evaluation. I was also part of a committee that planned and coordinated a national summit, in which we brought together nationally renowned scientists, policy leaders, and academicians as an additional part of evaluation of the NWD program.
The DN planned to utilize these forms of evaluation, along with other evidence-based strategies, for a program redesign that would incorporate research into the nexus of nursing diversity, health disparities, and social determinants of health. I am pleased to report that the DN has indeed used this research to redesign its NWD program – now requiring NWD grant applicants to propose “innovative workforce diversity projects that offer multi-level, evidence-based approaches that incorporate the social determinants of health into strategies to diversify the nursing workforce and move towards health equity.”
I was strengthened academically, personally, and professionally through this internship experience and am better positioned to fulfill my responsibilities as a nurse and health policy leader.