College of Health and Human Services
George Mason University
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George Mason University

Mason DC Public Health Case Challenge Team Presented at NAM

October 19, 2015

George Mason's DC Regional Public Health Case Challenge Team. Pictured: (front row) Maryama Ismail and Jumoom Ahmed; (back row) Kaltun Ali, Zeinab Safi, Catriona Gates, and Hana Hanfi

George Mason’s DC Regional Public Health Case Challenge Team presented at the National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) annual meeting in DC on October 19. The team was selected to present after initially presenting their solution during the challenge event on October 16. The Mason team spoke during the Future Leaders Across Generations luncheon at the NAM annual meeting, and attendees include NAM members, sponsors, and NAM fellows.

The DC Regional Public Health Case Challenge is a joint program between the Institute of Medicine and NAM and is focused on a particular public health issue. The teams, comprised of five to six students from at least three disciplines, must then develop a solution to the multi-faceted public health issue.

The 2015 public health issue was supporting mental health in older veterans. Teams were asked to develop a “feasible and creative proposal that will support mental health in older veterans, 65 years and older, living in the DC area.” The case document provided teams with background statistics and other information relevant to the issue; however, teams could also use outside resources in their proposed solution.

The Mason team of six students from health administration, pre-nursing, community health, and neuroscience, developed the Vet Net network to help enable access to existing resources to improve veterans' social, mental, and physical health. Their solution cited barriers including stigma, lack of knowledge, and inaccessible resources as contributors to older veterans’ risk of a lower quality of life.

Members of Mason’s team are: Jumoom Ahmed, BS in health administration student; Kaltun Ali, BS/pre-nursing student; Catriona Gates, BS in community health student; Hana Hanfi, BS in community health student; Maryama Ismail, BS in neuroscience student; and Zeinab Safi, BS in neuroscience student. Corrie Paeglow, assistant professor in the Department of Global and Community Health was the faculty advisor for the team.

“Our students’ work on this multidisciplinary team emphasizes the need for this type of collaboration to address public health issues,” said Thomas Prohaska, dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “By drawing on the diverse knowledge and skills of a multidisciplinary team, we are able to safeguard the nation’s health.”

In addition to the team, three students from the Department of Global and Community Health participated in drafting the case challenge. Laura-Allison Woods, BS in community health, was the lead case-writing author, and Stephanie Campbell, MPH ’15, and Hannah Risheq, MPH candidate, were also case-writing authors.

“The students on our Mason Public Health Case Challenge team are an excellent example of the possibilities that arise when we work on interdisciplinary teams,” Paeglow said. “They were able to tackle an important public health issue and learn how to work collaboratively to develop a feasible solution. To have three of our department’s students participating in writing the case challenge in close collaboration with NAM and IOM personnel is a great experience for them.”

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