CityMatCH externs create an exciting collaboration

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | July 30, 2013

Image with caption: Meardith Pooler, left, and Jonathan Cooper-Colquitt

Meardith Pooler, left, and Jonathan Cooper-Colquitt

Meardith Pooler and Jonathan Cooper-Colquitt arrived in Omaha in June, but not for the College World Series.

Pooler and Cooper-Colquitt, School of Public Health students at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, are CityMatCH's first two externs. They are in Omaha for a 10-week course of study on maternal and child health issues, during which they will be alternating their time between CityMatCH and the College of Public Health's Center for Reducing Health Disparities.

An exciting opportunity

For Pooler, the opportunity was an exciting one.

"The partnership with Meharry, and potentially other historically black colleges, is an opportunity for CityMatCH to create a leadership diversity pipeline, whereby we are able to bring minority public health scholars into positions of prominence within the field of public health."

Chad Abresch
Executive Director, CityMatCH

"It not only gave me an opportunity to work with a national public health organization, but allowed me to build relationships with hard-working, fascinating people and travel to Omaha," Pooler said. "This experience creates an avenue to gain valuable experience and knowledge in different competencies in the field of public health."

The externship offers visiting students access to CityMatCH's unique national/local focus on maternal and child health issues. Based at UNMC's Department of Pediatrics, CityMatCH is a national organization dedicated to promoting equity and improving the health of urban women, children, families and communities.

"The partnership with Meharry, and potentially other historically black colleges, is an opportunity for CityMatCH to create a leadership diversity pipeline, whereby we are able to bring minority public health scholars into positions of prominence within the field of public health," said Chad Abresch, executive director of CityMatCH.

"Living our values"

During her externship, Pooler will be working on several projects for CityMatCH's Institute for Equity in Birth Outcomes, a national movement of urban communities funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to instill a scientific focus on public health strategies to reduce inequities in birth outcomes. Cooper-Colquitt is exploring factors that contribute to improved pregnancy and birth outcomes.

"The opportunity to increase my knowledge on public health competencies is limitless," Pooler said.

The externship may open to other historically African-American colleges next year.

CityMatCH and UNMC both benefit from having the externs at the organization, Abresch noted.

"The program demonstrates that we are living our values," he said. "As an organization and a university, we value multiculturalism and diversity, as it widens our perspective as individuals, health professionals, and as a community."

Cooper-Colquitt, for one, is a fan.

"I think that CityMatCH and UNMC are making great strides in Public Health while fueling a consistent effort to educate as well as eliminate health disparities directly related to maternal and child health," he said.

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