ANN ARBOR, Mich. — More than a decade into the 21st century, Americans still face tremendous variations in health and health care, depending on what they look like, where they come from, what they earn and other factors.
Addressing this inequality will be the focus of a new leader at the University of Michigan Health System.
Today, after a national search, the U-M Board of Regents approved the appointment of Carmen R. Green, M.D., as the Health System’s inaugural Associate Vice President and Associate Dean for Health Equity and Inclusion, effective Feb. 1.
An outcomes researcher, Green has uncovered inequalities in pain and pain care based on race, ethnicity, gender and other factors across the lifespan. An innovator, her research has transformed the understanding of health inequities and influenced public policy. A national leader, she has worked locally and nationally to develop and enhance the health sciences pipeline for underrepresented minorities and women.
Green will use her clinical, education, research, and public policy experiences to lead UMHS efforts to find and address inequities in care, education, and research in Michigan and beyond, and to create an equitable pathway for individuals entering health careers, especially those who are underrepresented in health care.
Among the key goals for Green are: promoting health and educational equity and community engagement while enhancing and respecting the diversity of the UMHS workforce and patient base, and creating conditions that enhance the care of the underserved at UMHS and beyond using scientific principles. She will report to both the dean of the Medical School and the CEO of the Hospitals and Health Centers – a sign of the post’s strategic importance to UMHS.
“Our patients, our staff and faculty, and the future professionals we train all will benefit from Dr. Green’s expertise and leadership,” says Doug Strong, MBA, the CEO of the Hospitals and Health Centers. “Our institution must work to achieve health equity and inclusion in every facet of our operations.”
James O. Woolliscroft, M.D., dean of the Medical School, notes that many U-M health researchers and educators already pursue a broad range of projects that quantify and seek ways to address inequality. “To effectively mitigate this issue, we must work to enhance the pipeline of future health professionals, facilitate access for learners from diverse backgrounds, and create a workforce that actively addresses inequities while caring for patients from our state and across the nation,” he says.
About Carmen R. Green, M.D.
Green graduated from Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, did her residency and fellowship training in anesthesiology and pain medicine, and joined the faculty at the U-M Medical School as an assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology.
She rose through the ranks to her current position as a tenured professor of anesthesiology, with joint appointments in the Medical School’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Department of Health Management and Policy in the School of Public Health. She is co-director for the Community Liaison Core and director of the Healthier Black Elders Center for the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research at the U-M Institute for Social Research.
Her research focuses on pain management outcomes, physician decision-making, and access to care – and has documented disparities due to age, race, gender, and class across the lifespan. She has also found community-based structural barriers to health and pain care, including clear disparities in access to pain medication for blacks, women and low-income individuals with chronic pain. Her leadership in developing and diversifying the health professional pipeline includes service on faculty and advisory boards for programs designed to achieve a critical mass of minorities and women in biomedical science.
She has been selected for several fellowships focusing on aging, health care and health policy, including the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies -- where she worked as a health policy analyst on the U.S. Senate’s Health Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and the Children and Families Subcommittee. She is an elected fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, the Gerontological Society of America, and the Association of University Anesthesiologists. Her work has informed the policy agenda and she has provided expert testimony to state and federal entities.
Green has held a number of leadership positions within U-M, the region and the nation. Nationally, she has served in leadership roles with the American Pain Society and is a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Healthcare Services board, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services’ Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, the Eunice Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Council, the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research board, the Governor’s advisory committee on Pain and Symptom Management, and the American Cancer Society’s Council for Extramural Affairs.
Key goals and challenges
One of her first challenges, she says, will be to gather and analyze data about the UMHS patient population and workforce, to get a fuller picture of how well the institution is doing creating access and optimal outcomes for those who entrust their clinical care to UMHS, and creating opportunities for people to train in, enter and advance in the health sciences and health research professions at UMHS such that UMHS is responsive to an increasingly diversifying society.
She will also connect with the many researchers from across U-M whose research focuses on health inequities and the “social determinants of health” – the factors in an individual’s life and background that may influence their health status, access to health care or health behaviors.
She also hopes to lead an effort to help UMHS faculty, staff and learners bring a “cultural humility” to their work and interactions with patients of diverse backgrounds, going beyond basic cultural awareness. To help guide this effort, Green intends to pull together expert panels from outside and within U-M to advise on specific goals and efforts that UMHS should adopt.
“Since our founding in 1817, Michigan as an institution has been committed to excellence, quality, and inclusion regardless of race, gender, religion, or class, so diversity is in our DNA. And we have many outstanding clinicians, educators, and researchers focusing on health disparities in a broad range of fields,” she notes. “But where there is evidence about what we can do to improve how we provide care, do research, train new professionals or foster careers, we will implement it. And where there is no evidence, we will work to create it, using sound evidence and research. As an integrated and learning health system and university that values interdisciplinary work we want to put Michigan on the map when it comes to health equity.”
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