Category: Physical Therapy
January College of Health Sciences For the Record
February 01, 2023 Written by CHS Staff | Photo by Ashley Barnas
For the Record provides information about recent professional activities and honors of University of Delaware faculty, staff, students and alumni.
Recent appointments, presentations, publications and honors in the College of Health Sciences include the following:
Elizabeth Speakman, senior associate dean of the School of Nursing, spoke at the Delaware Healthcare Association’s 26th annual Delaware Healthcare Forum in October. She participated on a panel entitled the “Future of the Healthcare Workforce in Delaware.” The forum brought together chief hospital nurse executives, deans of nursing, legislators, regulatory agencies and key constituents to discuss and develop strategies aimed at reducing a nursing shortage being felt in Delaware and across the country. The panel also identified opportunities to expand the vital workforce pipeline to meet future, growing needs. With many nurses suffering from burnout following the COVID-19 pandemic, Speakman stressed legislation and increased support for nursing education can help retain and recruit nurses. “This collaborative movement, of which I’m proud to be a part, represents a concerted effort to enhance and provide positive health and wellbeing outcomes for all Delawareans,” Speakman said.
Laura Lessard, associate professor in the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition, was recently featured on an episode of the Early Childhood Policy Matters podcast titled Health, Wellness, and Retention in the Early Childhood Workforce. The podcast is produced by SRI International, who reached out to Lessard for her expertise on the wellbeing of the early childhood workforce alongside Walter Gilliam, professor of child psychiatry and psychology at the Yale Child Study Center. Lessard stressed the importance of translating research into meaningful policy changes. Her research focuses on the challenges faced by early childhood education professionals, who are often underpaid which causes them to struggle to maintain health and wellbeing. These women, who are disproportionately of color, deserve the wages and health benefits critical for them to sustain a healthy living as role models for the children they take care of. On the podcast, Lessard described the value of interventions and programs that can be easily replicated across the country to help these workers get their needed wages and healthcare. “This is an example of translating research into policy and practice,” Lessard said. “This is important as we are motivated for the eventual benefit our work provides our relevant audiences. As researchers at the University of Delaware, we have a responsibility to try and use our research to make measurable impacts on those who need it most.”
Anjana Bhat, an associate professor in the physical therapy department, was recently honored by the American Physical Therapy Association. She’s the sole recipient of this year’s Stephen Haley Research Award, which recognizes extraordinary research in pediatric physical therapy that’s had a profound impact on the field. Bhat has been studying gross motor issues in children with autism for years. “The recognition of my research on this level raises awareness and brings hope that policies will change so that more funding will be made available for children with autism who have motor issues so they can obtain access to PT services and physical activity programs,” Bhat said. Bhat will receive the award in February at the APTA Combined Sections Meeting in San Diego, California. She was also recently recognized by the University of Delaware Faculty Senate in December, receiving the Mid-Career Faculty Excellence in Scholarship Award, which was created in 2018 to recognize outstanding scholarly contributions of faculty in their respective fields.
The University's Epidemiology Program and program founder Jennifer Horney have been featured in the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health’s COVID-19 Storytelling Project. The compilation of compelling stories reveals how academic public health institutions worked within their universities and communities, regions and states to make an impact and keep the public safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. “These stories from ASPPH member schools and programs aim to ensure that the lessons learned from COVID-19 are documented and available as evidence of the incredible and heroic work our community embarked on to respond to a major threat of the century,” Horney said. Horney, who served on UD’s pandemic policy and operations committees, recently authored The COVID-19 Response: The Vital Role of the Public Health Professional, which touches on lessons learned in the pandemic as we look to bolster resilience to future public health crises. “Going forward, we must examine the evidence created as part of the COVID-19 response — what worked, what didn’t — and how the response to COVID-19, although unique, is relevant to many other types of public health emergencies and disasters,” Horney said. “As the public health workforce deals with threats of violence, politicization, burnout and funding challenges, we need to implement lessons learned and establish a viable path forward that includes sustainable investments in strategy and the workforce.”