Lastascia Coleman is. She is a member of Health Policy Research Scholars Cohort 2021.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what your research interests are.
I am a third year PhD student in the Health Management and Policy department in the University of Iowa College of Public Health. I also currently practice as a certified nurse-midwife. I am interested in maternal health, the maternity care provider workforce, and the role of Medicaid in improving maternity care outcomes.
What’s the story behind why you’re doing what you’re doing?
I am looking at assessing systems level changes that can improve maternity outcomes and reproductive health. As a provider, I am familiar with individual level opportunities to improve care, but change will only come sustainably when the systems we work and receive care in also evolve.
Tell us about a project you are currently working on that you are excited about.
I am currently working on a project that is looking at the policy implications of the new Birthing Friendly Designation from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the role perinatal quality collaboratives play in establishing the designation.
For people unfamiliar with your research area, what is one piece of information you think is important for them to know?
Most of the systems level interventions currently being implemented to improve maternal health have little evidence behind them.
Who is a researcher you admire and why?
Dr. Rachel Hardeman is someone I admire. Like me, she is also a Black woman in the Midwest doing health services research. She has done incredible work and continues to raise the bar and level accountability within our field to ask hard questions and determine innovative ways to study health disparities in an action-oriented approach.
How do you think HPRS will complement your doctoral training?
The focus on health equity and leadership development has been integral to my research goals. The policy work that allows me to think of ways my own research and existing knowledge can be translated into policies has been the most impactful.
What part(s) of HPRS excite you the most?
I have enjoyed getting to know my cohort and all of the HPRS staff. I have already learned so much from everyone and feel a strong sense of community when have opportunities to be together.
In the RWJF HPRS program we will work with you to help you think further about using your research to develop policy. If you could use your research to change any policy, what policy would it be?
So many of the system level interventions to address poor maternal outcomes are new programs and I would like to see more policies assessing how these initiatives are impacting maternal morbidity and mortality. We have not done enough to ensure what we are doing is actually working.
Here’s a fun question to wrap things up. If you could visit any place in the world, where would you choose to go and why?
I would visit a place like Tahiti or Bora Bora for some remote relaxation in the South Pacific.