Jim Stimpson, PhD

Jim Stimpson, PhD

Jim Stimpson, PhD

Faculty Highlight – Jim P. Stimpson, PhD, is the founding director of the UNMC Center for Health Policy, a tenured associate professor, and Graduate Program director in the Department of Health Services Research and Administration at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

His disciplinary background is sociology, with specific training and expertise in health policy analysis and evaluation, advanced statistical analyses, and translating empirical research results to stakeholders. The focus of his research is on social influences of population health and inequalities, and he conducts research, primarily, by creatively identifying, linking, and analyzing large, population-based databases. Dr. Stimpson’s research has been funded by numerous organizations, including the National Cancer Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He has published more than 50 journal articles and policy reports, which have appeared in leading journals such as Health Affairs and the American Journal of Public Health. These publications have generated $1 million in media value from over 450 media placements across the country.

Dr. Stimpson currently teaches graduate courses on health policy. Over the years, he has taught 447 students in 26 courses. While at UNMC, he has created several educational programs, including a new concentration in health policy for the Masters in Public Health program and dual degree programs in partnership with UNO (MBA/MPH) and with UNL (JD/MPH). He has acquired several educational grants, the largest related to the Nebraska Health Policy Academy, which aims to help train health departments to better utilize health policy as a public health intervention. With regard to his teaching philosophy, Dr. Stimpson said “Central to my mission as a teacher is that I want students to walk away from my class better able to link personal troubles to public issues using empirical evidence and critical thinking.”

Jim Stimpson, PhD, is an associate professor in the UNMC COPH Department of Health Services Research and Administration and the director of the UNMC COPH Center for Health Policy.

Diptee Ojha

Diptee Ojha

Diptee Ojha

Student Highlight – Diptee Ojha is a PhD candidate in the Health Services Research, Administration, and Policy program in the Department of Health Services Research and Administration. She is originally from Kathmandu, Nepal. Diptee has  an undergraduate degree in dentistry from India and an MBA in health care management from Bellevue University. She currently lives in Omaha with her husband, Kush, and her six year old mutt, Layla.

Diptee’s introduction to the world of public health came in a class that she took while in dental school. The class provided her with a valuable introduction to the contemporary issues faced in health care today. It also convinced her of the importance of public health research everywhere around the world. Upon graduation from dental school, she moved back to Nepal and worked as a dentist in both the public and private sectors. Diptee worked in both a government clinic and a private practice clinic, and noticed a marked difference between the two clinics in the socioeconomic status of patients. What Diptee took away from this experience is that professional oral care should not be compromised due to a patient’s financial situation. Her background in dental surgery offered the opportunity to deliver oral health care. However, the lack of variety within the field and its limited options for growth led her to seek additional education and training. The disparity in access, cost and quality of care provided to different classes in the population and the lack of oral health services research heightened her interest in the public health services research. Diptee is interested in researching dental health services. Access to care both spatial and non-spatial, an aging workforce, a lack of documentation of dental disease, and dental health status are critical issues that we face today, especially in a rural states like Nebraska. Diptee’s long-term goal is to get a better understanding of these issues. Upon graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in health services research hopefully in the academic sector. One of her goals is to develop a competency-based course in dental health services that could introduce dental and dental hygiene students to the most pressing issues related to dental and oral health.

Diptee has been a student in the College of Public Health for the past three years and has enjoyed every moment. She appreciates the diversity among the faculty and student body. The learning atmosphere and the wide range of research resources has played a key role in her education. Diptee was recently featured in a student testimonial video focusing on student support and lifelong relationships in the College of Public Health.

Nicole Carritt, MPH (Health Administration, 2006)

Nicole Carritt, MPH

Nicole Carritt, MPH

Alumni HighlightNicole Carritt graduated from the UNMC College of Public Health (COPH) with a Master of Public Health in Health Administration in 2006.

Hometown – Missouri Valley, IA

Current career position: I currently serve as the executive director of Project Extra Mile, a statewide nonprofit organization in Nebraska that works to prevent underage drinking, youth access to alcohol, and the related harms in the state. Community organizing is the foundation to our efforts. Our organization focuses our work on policy initiatives, enforcement collaborations, media advocacy, education and awareness, and youth leadership.

It was the MPH program that led me to my work with the organization. I was introduced to Project Extra Mile, and the organization’s important work, while I sat in an MPH class where the former executive director was a guest speaker. I was immediately intrigued that such a small organization, in partnership with communities across the state, was making such big strides to prevent underage drinking using the best science and public health approaches available to change the alcohol environment for long-term and sustainable change. Years later, when the opportunity to join the organization presented itself, I didn’t hesitate. I have a strong interest in advocacy and promoting public health policy that is based on the literature, something that Project Extra Mile does well. I am grateful each day that I am able to utilize the skills I gained from the MPH program in both my past and current positions. I appreciate most the partnerships with committed individuals from a variety of backgrounds across the state who are collectively impacting the significant public health problem of underage and excessive alcohol consumption in Nebraska and across the U.S.

What you value most about your time in our program: I’ve always known that public health was my passion, and my time in the MPH program helped me harness that passion in a way that was most effective for changing the communities in which we live. I learned that working to improve the population’s health requires action and that public health takes place in our homes, on street corners, in boardrooms, and in the legislature.

Advice for current students: Reach out, be connected, be engaged, and get involved while you’re still in the program. When you do, you’ll be introduced to public health problems and truly dedicated people that you didn’t know are working tirelessly in your communities to make them safer and healthier. By doing this, you will gain real-world experience and build your portfolio at the same time. Organizations that focus on public health are delighted when students from the COPH contact us to get involved; we’re as eager to learn from you as we are to share our work, knowledge, and experience with you.

Two COPH Students Receive Best Poster Awards at the 2013 Student Research Day

gbposterawardsSpotlight on Research at COPH – Kelli Gruber, an MPH student in the epidemiology concentration, received the best poster award for her poster titled “Minimally Invasive Surgery for Colon Cancer.” In her poster summary, Kelli noted the following: “Colorectal cancer (CRC) is ranked third for cancer incidence and mortality in the United States. In fact, mortality from CRC is higher in the Midwestern states than in other parts of the country, which could be attributed to the large number of rural communities in the Midwest. Technological advancements in CRC treatment, including minimally invasive surgical (MIS) techniques such as laparoscopic surgery, have been shown to have equivalent or even superior outcomes compared to the standard surgical treatment. It is currently unknown if this procedure is being utilized for CRC patients diagnosed in Nebraska, if disparities in treatment received exist based on rural/urban residence, and if survival and tumor recurrence vary by type of surgery received (laparoscopic vs. open). The main purpose of the study was to describe clinical and demographic factors associated with MIS for colon cancer treatment. The second aim was to examine predictors of survival (vital status) in patients who underwent laparoscopic or open colectomy as treatment for colon cancer.” Kelli used a linked dataset of Nebraska Cancer Registry and hospital discharge data (HDD) to investigate the research questions. After adjusting for potential confounders in multivariable logistic regression, colon cancer patients who received laparoscopic surgery had significantly greater odds of being alive at last contact than did the standard surgery group. Future analyses will examine predictors of surgery receipt, including rural/urban residence.

Harpriya Kaur, a PhD student in epidemiology, received the best poster award for her poster titled “Is Hypertension Associated with Long Work Hours and Select Workplace Psychosocial Factors? – A Cross-Sectional Study Based on the 2010 National Health Interview Survey.” In her poster summary, Harpriya noted that “Hypertension is a primary risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and stroke and is a leading cause of death in the United States. Many studies have documented the association between the risk factors related to self-reported job stress and CVDs. The goal of this study was to estimate the prevalence of self-reported hypertension, and explore the associations between selected work organization and psychosocial factors (long work hours, job insecurity, work-family imbalance, and a hostile work environment) and hypertension among workers in a nationally representative sample of the US adult population. Prevalence rates of self-reported hypertension among workers in different industries and occupational categories were also examined. Using National Health Interview Survey data for 2010, we found that job insecurity and a hostile work environment were significantly associated with hypertension. In addition, workers in the health support occupational category were more likely than workers in all other occupational categories to report having received a diagnosis of hypertension. One reason why workers in the health support occupational category have higher odds of hypertension could be shift work. Furthermore, we found that workers in the public administration occupational category had a significantly increased prevalence of having received a diagnosis of hypertension. A high proportion of public administration workers are police and firefighters. Studies of firefighters and police have reported strong and independent associations between hypertension and adverse health outcomes such as incident CHD, stroke due to heart disease, nonfatal myocardial infarction, and on-duty fatalities. We recommend that public health professionals and employers consider workplace interventions aimed at reducing the risk factors for hypertension by taking organization-level factors, such as prevention of workplace hostility, into account, along with individual-level health behavioral factors such as diet and exercise.”

Congratulations to Kelli and Harpriya for their award-winning poster presentations at the annual UNMC College of Public Health Student Research Day!

Family Dining

Family DiningPublic Health Community Advisory – Families in Omaha are answering a call to action: cook and eat more meals at home together. Sponsored through community collaborations, The Family Dining Challenge aims to support families to be healthier together through shared meals.

Why Family Dining?

As described by Marino and Butkus, family meals benefit children even beyond healthy eating.[1] Children who eat more family meals have:

Better Nutrition: This includes higher intake of fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and key nutrients (e.g., fiber), less intake of high-fat foods and sodas, and healthier eating habits outside of those meals.[2][3][4]

Improved Learning: Middle and high school students who regularly eat family meals may perform higher on tests.[5] Language skills in preschoolers may also improve.[6]

Improved Well-Being: Teenagers may show reduced risky behaviors (e.g., drug use) and less depression,[7] while children may have more positive family interactions.[8]

Therefore, family dining has important implications for the health and well-being of our community, especially considering the serious health issues we face, including overweight/obesity and the associated chronic diseases.

Health professionals in Omaha consistently receive questions about how to get kids to eat healthier. The answer is “good role modeling.” Family dining provides an optimal opportunity to role model and offer healthy foods. Considering the added benefits, promoting family dining became a priority community health initiative.

The Family Dining Pledge.

1,020 families have taken the Pledge, which is sponsored by Live Well Omaha Kids (LWOK), which is a partnership of over 40 organizations that work to support children in practicing healthy habits. Partners, advisors (including two UNMC COPH professors, among others), and volunteers help shape and disseminate the campaign. Families can take the pledge online (www.livewellomahakids.org/pledge ), or in the community (e.g., Open Streets Omaha, Healthy Neighborhood Stores.)

Of course, succeeding with family dining can be challenging. Marino and Butkus describe many of these challenges, including conflicting schedules, limited time to cook, lack of cooking skills, and preferences for activities like watching television.[1]

LWOK aims to support families in overcoming these challenges by providing education and resources through various channels. Amy Houser, a UNMC MPH student and LWOK intern, says “This communication tool [newsletter] is crucial for follow-up with families who take the Pledge. These emails and Facebook posts provide recipes, tips, and information to help create and sustain behavior change.”

Quick Tips:

  • Plan Ahead: Cut up fruits/vegetables on Sunday or cook whole grain rice to use throughout the week.

  • Involve Kids: Allow kids to help shop or prep. They’ll be more likely to try something new.

  • Keep it Simple: Add vegetables to an omelet or serve a PB&J sandwich with an apple and low-fat milk.

  • Even 15 minutes together at the table counts.

  • Stay Positive: Enjoy the time together and role model positive behaviors.

  • TV Off: A major benefit is the time to build relationships. Turn off technology and focus on each other.


[1]Marino & Butkus http://nutrition.wsu.edu/eteb/archive/background.html

[2] Cullen, KW and T Baranowski. “Influence of family dinner on food intake of 4th to 6th grade students.” Paper presented at The American Dietetic Association’s Food and Nutrition Conference, October 2000.

[3] Stanek K, D Abbot and S Cramer. “Diet quality and the eating environment of preschool children.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 90(11):1582-1584, November 1996.

[4] “Learning by example: How family meal times could make ‘good eating’ easier to swallow.”www.mori.com/polls/1999/crcjan99.shtml. Posted February 10, 1999.

[5] Wildavsky, R. “What’s behind success in school?” Reader’s Digest. October 1994. Pages 49-55.

[6] Sanford, Carolyn. “Using ‘rare’ words at mealtime can enlarge children’s vocabulary.”record.wustl.edu/archive/1995/09-28-95/4234.html.

[7] Bowden BS and JM Zeisz. “Supper’s on! Adolescent adjustment and frequency of family mealtimes.” Paper presented at 105th Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, 1997, Chicago, Illinois.

[8] http://www.human.cornell.edu/pam/outreach/parenting/research/upload/Family-Mealtimes-2.pdf

This article was co-written by Denise H. Britigan, PhD, assistant professor in the UNMC COPH Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health; Kelly Bouxsein, MPH, MS, CPH, Live Well Omaha Kids Healthier Communities Administrator; and Amy Houser, COPH student and LWOK intern.

Fall 2013 MPH Graduates

graduationPublic Health Practice – In the fall 2013 semester, the following students completed their Service Learning/Capstone Experience to fulfill the requirements of the professional degree, Master of Public Health, at the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Congratulations to these professional students! Best wishes to them all in their chosen profession of public health.

Mulele Kalima

Geographical Distribution and Factors Related to Late Stage at Diagnosis: Analysis of Cervical Cancer in Zambia, 2007 – 2012

Veenu Minhas

Clostridium difficile Infection (CDI) in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT) Recipients: Incidence, Risk Factors, and Clinical Outcomes

Gretchen Filip

Quality of Life in Clients at a Women-and-Family-Focused Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Program

Mengqian Li

Changes in quality of life in patients undergoing different treatments of hepatocellular carcinoma

Mark Obrist

Factors Related to Incomplete Treatment of Breast Cancer in Kumasi, Ghana

Brittney Smith

Evaluating the Incidence and Possible Risk Factors of Stomach Cancer in Marrakech, Morocco—An Exploratory Study

Rebecca Haworth

Women’s health in resettlement: Assessing beliefs and practices for cervical cancer screening in Nebraska’s Bhutanese refugee community

Mark Theis

Lymphocyte Chromosome Aberration Assay for Radiation Dose Assessment at the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory

Sarena Dacus

Understanding the Impact of Omaha After-School Programs on the 40 Developmental Assets in Middle School Students

Binu Singh

Evaluation of “Darkness to Light”: A Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program in Omaha, Nebraska

Lisa Vajgrt Smith

An Assessment of the TRAIN© tool for development in county disaster response plans