As the COVID-19 Pandemic has led to a new era of digital and hybrid engagement as the norm, we must create, grow, and sustain connections for individuals beginning research careers, especially minority and underrepresented investigators facing unique challenges to career success due to isolation, limited collaboration opportunities, and difficulties securing mentoring and funding opportunities. In response to such challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, the University of Maryland (UMD) in partnership with University of Birmingham (UoB) developed and launched a virtual Health Research Exchange (HREx) in 2021 as part the U21 Community for doctoral students and early career researchers (ECR) to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion and address health systems needs through the project “Thriving in a Post COVID age: An International Collaboration And Career Development Tool to Increase Diversity and Inclusion in Healthcare Management, Health Services, and Health Policy Research”.
Led by Dr. Negin Fouladi from the Department of Health Policy and Management (HPM) at the UMD School of Public Health, HREx aims to address challenges faced during the pandemic in maintaining networks and career development opportunities, particularly experienced by minority groups in Health Management, Health Services, Health Policy, and related disciplines.
We are excited to announce that the University College Dublin (UCD) and University of New South Wales (UNSW) partnered with UMD and UoB in 2021 to increase the reach and impact of HREx across U21 institutions. Through the project “Growing and Sustaining Global Collaborations Through the U21 Health Research Exchange”, HREx will continue expansion of engagement and training activities by utilizing expertise of UMD, UoB, and newly partnered UCD and UNSW institutions’ faculty, researchers, national, and local experts to further build collaborations, mentorship and career development opportunities, and sharing of best practices in healthcare. The addition of highly active interdisciplinary research and ECR networks of UCD and UNSW will greatly contribute to cross‐national and cross‐disciplinary exchanges at a time when international travel continues to be highly restricted.
“Over the past few years, the COVID-19 Pandemic has continued to highlight weaknesses of health systems around the world to improve population health as well as persistent inequalities in research and practice. HREx was created by UMD and UoB to start a global healthcare collaboration “Stage”. In the upcoming year and working with our new UCD and UNSW partners, we have the opportunity to embed this “Stage” in the U21 network long‐term to support creative collaborations for students and ECR’s and enhance the reach of international research globally!” Dr. Fouladi
“The pandemic has changed how health systems operate and have emphasized our global interconnectedness. Through health research exchange initiatives like this, doctoral student researchers such as myself can better address inequities through our work, collaborate with partners we would otherwise be unable to and achieve a greater overall impact from our work. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity” Mr. Douma shared.
HREx is currently available to all member institutions through the U21 Community e-learning platform as a research knowledge translation and exchange tool or to jump‐start healthcare research training, career development, leadership opportunities and strengthen connections and interdisciplinary research across the Universitas 21 network.
Investigators PI, UMD: Negin Fouladi, PhD, MPH, MS, Associate Clinical Professor and Director, Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health
Co-I, UMD: Aitalohi Amaize, MPH, BSN, RN, CEN, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Health Policy and Management, University of Maryland School of Public Health.
Co-I, UMD: Portia Buchongo MPH, BSN,RN, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health
Co-I, UoB: Sandhya Duggal, PhD, MA, BA, Research Fellow, Department of Social Work and Social Care, School of Social Policy.
Co-I, UCD: Purity Mwendwa, BA, MSc, PhD, Post‐Doctoral Research Fellow, School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems, firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-I, UCD: Matthew Douma, MSc, BSc, RN, Doctoral Student, School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems, email@example.com
Co-I, UNSW: Hyun Song, PhD, MSc, BASc, Adjunct Lecturer, Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, Faculty of Medicine & Health
Platform Development Platform Development and Outreach Specialist, UMD: Stephanie Bryant, MPH, BS, Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health
Platform Development and Outreach Specialist, UMD: Damilola (Lola) Ajayi, MPH Candidate, BS, Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health
Platform Development and Outreach Specialist, UMD: Chloe Morton, MPH Candidate, BS, Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health
Advisors Project advisor, UoB: Mark Exworthy PhD, Bsc, Professor, Health Services Management Centre, School of Social Policy
Project advisor, UCD: Kate Frazer PhD, MPH, BSc, RGN, Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems
Project advisor, UCD: Thilo Kroll, PhD, Dip Psych, Professor of Health Systems Management, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems
Project advisor, UNSW: Ben Harris-Roxas PhD, MPASR, BSW, Senior Lecturer (Integrated Care), School of Population Health, Faculty of Medicine & Health