CHS Calls on Faculty, Staff, and Students to End Health Disparities

By Caitlin Burns | October 8, 2020

The College of Health Sciences (CHS) hosted two Question and Answer sessions with Dr. Gregory Hicks, professor of Physical Therapy at the University of Delaware, to discuss what can be done to address the health disparities in the U.S. healthcare system. 

Students, faculty, and staff of the CHS were encouraged to watch a lecture from Dr. Hicks and then attend a zoom discussion to become more informed about this issue of health disparities, which is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations.” 

“It seemed that CHS should have some broad, bold participation [in the President’s Anti-Black Racism Initiatives],” said Dr. Rebecca Craik, dean of CHS, during the discussions. “What we can do well is address health disparities, and with this kickoff to begin to listen and think about how we can take action related to health disparities as a College.”

The sessions with Dr. Hicks, held between Sept. 17 and 18, hosted about 40 faculty and staff and 200 students from the College. Dr. Craik noted that CHS brings to this initiative on health disparities a network across the United States of 130,000 physician assistant professionals, 450,000 public health professionals, and 260,000 physical therapists, along with each departments’ professional organization connections. 

“That’s nearly a million health professionals across the United States, and we should have a voice about health disparities not only on the campus but in our respective professions,” said Dr. Craik. “It’s our professional responsibility.”

Dr. Craik noted that this initiative to address health disparities, while not part of the President’s Anti-Black Racism Initiatives, in which CHS faculty, staff, and students are active members of various teams, is a goal the College set in relation to it. 

President Nair’s Anti-Black Racism Initiatives outline six domains where change will be instituted across the University: academics; local, national, and global social impact; Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI); policies, procedures, and systems; training, learning, and development; and campus climate and culture. 

The CHS initiative fits into goal 1.3 in the Academics initiative, which is to “work with key stakeholders to examine the socio-political and economic contexts of sexual, racial, and other forms of violence to promote a public health agenda for the University.” The discussions on Hicks’ lecture is the first step to following through with this goal.