Earlier this month, the three newest recipients of the Pozen-Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Health Equity Leadership at Yale University visited Edward P. Evans Hall for the first time, meeting each other and the program faculty and participating in a two-day immersion that commenced 22 months focused on the disparities in healthcare access and outcomes that affect marginalized, minoritized, and medically underserved populations in the United States.
The fellowship includes study in the Healthcare area of focus of Yale SOM’s MBA for Executives program, as well as specialized training and mentorship from national experts on healthcare disparities. The fellows will return in July for EMBA orientation and the opening weeks of the integrated MBA core curriculum.
The three fellows in the EMBA Class of 2024 are Dr. Nazleen Bharmal, associate chief of community health and partnerships at the Cleveland Clinic; Dr. Amaziah Coleman, a medical officer in the Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation (DAIT) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH); and Dr. Karen Orjuela, a neurologist at the University of Colorado.
Dr. Bharmal, an internist who has a doctorate in health policy and a master’s in public policy, leads health equity and community partnership efforts at the Cleveland Clinic. Before coming to Cleveland, she was director of science and policy in the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General.
“I was pulled into medicine to serve as a healer,” she said. “I care deeply about helping patients, families, and communities thrive and flourish, especially among vulnerable populations and/or those that have traditionally experienced health disparities.”
The Pozen-Commonwealth Fund Fellowship will help her expand her impact, she said. “Financial and management skills are additional tools that I can bring to the table to address social issues such as structural violence, quality care for underserved populations, and health equity.”
Attending the immersion made it clear to Dr. Bharmal that the fellowship will also provide a crucial network, she added. “I feel grateful to be with an inspiring and committed group of co-fellows and colleagues who are also passionate about advancing health equity.”
Dr. Coleman was a pediatric allergist and immunologist at Children’s National Hospital before joining the NIAID and conducts research on health disparities in those areas. But her interest in addressing disparities in health has even deeper roots. “I can remember the health inequities I experienced as a child,” she said, “Now as a pediatrician and allergist/immunologist, I care for patients and families who face those same inequities. The fellowship is an opportunity to build and hone the skills I need to ensure that these injustices do not continue to future generations.”
She came away from the immersion with a determination to be “thoughtful, bold, open, and vocal about how I’m using my gifts to improve the health of disadvantaged people,” she said.
Dr. Orjuela has a master’s degree in clinical research as well as training as a vascular neurologist and has conducted numerous research studies. She has a focus on addressing racial disparities in research as well as care.
“The stroke field has grown tremendously in the past 25 years, the development of thrombolytics, neuroimaging, and endovascular interventions led to a reduction of stroke mortality and a path to continue reducing stroke-related morbidity,” she said, but “we still struggle to deliver the best care to all our communities, particularly those who are overrepresented in acute cerebrovascular diseases but underrepresented in clinical trials and stroke systems of care design (such as rural populations and low/middle income countries). I would like to be part of the implementation of respectful and kind community partnerships to reduce stroke disparities at a national and international level.”
At the immersion, Dr. Orjuela felt a palpable connection to staff, her classmates, and faculty members, she said. “The inspiring conversations we had with health equity leaders helped me to realize what an amazing privilege it is to walk this health equity journey together.”
Pictured above, from left: Dr. Amaziah Coleman, Dr. Karen Orjuela, and Dr. Nazleen Bharmal