Meet the Scholars: Yaminette Diaz-Linhart
Yaminette Diaz-Linhart is a PhD candidate at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. She is a part of Health Policy Research Scholars Cohort 2017.
Before we begin, tell us a little bit about yourself and what your research interests are.
I am a public health social worker interested in understanding how working conditions promote the well-being of front-line health care and social service workers, like community health workers, patient navigators, social workers, and care managers.
What’s the story behind why you’re doing what you’re doing?
As a practitioner, I noticed that front-line workers were struggling with their own well-being while also trying to support the communities they served. During the second year of my doctoral program, I conducted a pilot study to understand the working conditions for complex care management workers are hired to address both social and medical needs through accountable models of care. What I learned is that front-line workers are mission-driven and passionate individuals who often forget to put on their own oxygen masks before helping others. I personally relate to this. So, as I learned from workers, I was also learning about myself. It is this personal connection between the lived experience and the professional work that has made this process very enriching.
Tell us about a project you are currently working on that you are excited about.
My dissertation research is testing the potential association between employee voice and well-being. The overarching question my research is trying to answer is whether or not having a say over one’s working conditions impacts well-being for workers. The concept of “voice” captures how employees attempt to influence the conditions of their work to meet both individual and collective interests. Now that my research focuses on voice at work, I am excited to keep seeing the world through this lens.
For people unfamiliar with your research area, what is one piece of information you think is important for them to know?
Compared to other medical professionals, voice may be even more important for front-line workers providing services in health care and social services, since many of these workers may not have a designated professional status (or association) to support them and their work. Although there are strong research foundations for the separate concepts of employee voice, professionalization, and worker well-being, there are no studies linking these concepts for an emerging profession like community health workers.
Who is a researcher you admire and why?
I especially admire the scholars in my HPRS cohort. I have learned so much from their research and their professional and personal journeys. It has been incredible to witness our development in scholarship and our support for each other. I really look forward to growing alongside my HPRS family.
How has being a Health Policy Research Scholar helped you during your time as a doctoral candidate?
Being an HPRS Scholar has shaped my approach to research, leadership, and scholarly work. HPRS is a family that helps guide me, challenge me, and support me in learning more about myself and my professional goals.
In the RWJF HPRS program we have worked 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?
Some key implications for policy from my dissertation research include creating workplace conditions where employees are able to “voice” ideas and concerns without negative repercussions. By voicing, employees would help shape their day-to-day work, which may also help define the long-term strategic service vision of that organization. Over time, organizations can build a culture of health directly from the front lines.
OK, 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?
It is hard to pick one place! I love to travel and I am especially missing traveling given the new reality we face with the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the pandemic has quelled, I would first travel to visit family in Florida and Puerto Rico. After that, I would love to visit Tokyo to ride the city’s incredible subway system and take my kids to one of the Pokémon Centers.
Thank you so much for your time!