The Department of Occupational Therapy has provided me with an invaluable and immersive experience in the foundational principles of occupational therapy, as well as skills in rehabilitation research. During the last twelve months I have had the distinct honor and privilege to serve as a postdoctoral associate as a member of Professor Natalie Leland’s Rehabilitation Health Services Research Lab. In this lab, I examined the barriers and facilitators that members of National Institutes of Health designated health disparity populations experience when accessing and receiving post-acute care in skilled nursing facilities or home health agencies. I also collaborated with Professor Elizabeth Skidmore’s Occupational Therapy Cognitive Performance Lab. This lab offered opportunities to examine the potential relationships among social characteristics, perceived discrimination and the health care environment among persons who identify as African American or Black and who experienced a stroke.
A failure to acknowledge how the lived experiences and perceived discrimination among persons from health disparity populations impact patient engagement and health outcomes will only perpetuate health disparities. And yet, my studies thus far have documented the paucity of scientific evidence denoting the lived experiences, priorities and preferences of these populations. Therefore, I am committed to a research program focused on addressing health disparities among National Institutes of Health designated health disparity populations. I employ a lens of intersectionality, studying intersections among multiple social characteristics and social determinants of health, to acknowledge the whole person and incorporate lived experiences in the study of health, health care access and quality, and health outcomes. My research program will also include identifying and implementing not only effective, but sustainable, interventions to ensure that patients receive the appropriate care, at the appropriate time, in a culturally inclusive and responsive environment.
During my postdoctoral journey, I have acquired a new-found appreciation for quantitative research methods while refining my qualitative research skills and scientific writing skills. I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the countless relationships that have emerged from engaging with persons within the Department of Occupational Therapy, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and persons from various departments across the Pitt community. My postdoctoral journey has reiterated the importance of confidently walking in your purpose. This has been such a positive life-changing experience that I will cherish for years to come.
Written by: CeCe Williams, Post-Doctoral Associate
Published on February 6, 2023