MIRECC / CoE
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) | South Central MIRECC
The SC MIRECC strives to promote and celebrate a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion among our staff, across our sites, and in the work we do to improve mental health care for rural and other underserved Veterans.
The SCMIRECC education core is dedicated to integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in our educational portfolio. This dedication to DEI is evident in the following aspects:
Clinical education products.
The educational products reflect the Veteran populations served by featuring images and scenarios of Veterans and clinicians from a variety of sociocultural backgrounds regarding age, race/ethnicity, gender, ability, and sexual orientation. Authors are recommended to use person-first language and to integrate DEI into their content. We have incorporated cross-cultural communication models (e.g., L.E.A.R.N., R.E.S.P.E.C.T) into some of our recently developed, clinician- and Veteran-facing materials. As we update previously developed clinical education products, we are working to ensure revisions include aspects of DEI to make our materials more inclusive.
CBOC Mental Health Grand Rounds.
Our monthly Grand Round series meets the continuing education needs of mental health clinicians in rural areas and CBOCs. Each Grand Rounds highlights how the topic is related to or could be adapted to rural areas. We have several topics, annually, that support enhanced mental health care for everyone. Example topics include:
- Expanding the Ability to Conceptualize and Converse About Race in Mental Health Settings
- The Ethics of Responding to Microaggressions and Discriminatory Requests
- Substance Use in Aging Rural Veterans: An Interdisciplinary Geriatrics Consultation Team Approach
- Chronic Pain Management: Challenges and Optimization in Under Resourced Settings
- Ethics of using VA Video Connect (VVC) for Veterans with Mobility and Sensory Impairments
- Diagnosing and Treating Gender Dysphoria in Rural and Small VHA Facilities
- Depression Treatment for Pregnant and Nursing Women
- Introduction to Dementia and Delirium
- Harassment in the Workplace: How is it defined, how does it present itself, and what are our responsibilities when it arises?
- VHA Veterans Justice Programs
- The Challenge of Caring for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Veterans in Rural Settings
Grant funded endeavors.
Two Sides of the Same Coin: Received grant from Baylor College of Medicine to develop a comprehensive training that combines cultural humility and responding to microaggressions.
Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault education and training: The SC MIRECC Education Core received funding from the VA National Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program (IPVAP) to develop Veteran facing educational and clinician training on sexual assault and intimate partner violence, Educational material will highlight the unique barriers for people who are African, Hispanic American, and Native American/Alaskan Native, LGBTQ+, and men.
The SC MIRECC Education Core has developed training for clinicians on responding to microaggressions and discriminatory requests from patients. The training has been provided nationally and locally.
The SC MIRECC Education Core has published a scoping review regarding clinician responses to microaggressions.
Wittkower, L. D., Bryan, J. L., & Asghar-Ali, A. A. (2021). A Scoping Review of Recommendations and Training to Respond to Patient Microaggressions. Academic Psychiatry, 1-13.
Clinical Care Core
DEI within the Clinical Care Core is grounded in the SC MIRECC’s Consumer Advisory Board (CAB). The CAB is a dynamic and diverse group of Veterans, family members of Veterans, and representatives from VA and community organizations that provides consultation and guidance to the SC MIRECC’s research, education and clinical programs. The CAB meets monthly to discuss projects with a focus on rural and underserved Veterans. Within the past year, the CAB has placed a high priority on DEI with focused discussions that encourage and advance DEI efforts across SC MIRECC projects.
Research CoreThe SC MIRECC Research Core created a targeted request for pilot study applications to promote research that advances DEI and community engagement. In addition to the standard application for studies that address the needs of rural and underserved Veterans, this expanded opportunity prioritizes studies that:
- Address inequities in healthcare associated with age, race or ethnicity, birth sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or socioeconomic status;
- Engage diverse groups of Veterans; and/or
- Increase engagement with community partners
The pilot study program is now also gathering information on the characteristics of pilot project participants and, very broadly, on pilot principal investigators. The research core team is also working on ways to make DEI subject matter expertise available through the MIRECC Implementation, Design and Analysis Support (MIDAS) program.
Research Training Core
For 2022, the SC MIRECC Research Training Core has hired a Virtual DEI Scholar in Residence, Dr. Stephanie Budge. Dr. Budge is an Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology and the Director of the Advancing Health Equity and Diversity program in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Budge will provide a series of seminars and mentorship to help SC MIRECC trainees and faculty better integrate DEI principles and best practices into their research.
In partnership with the VA HSR&D COIN Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness & Safety (IQuESt) and the VA HSR&D COIN Center for Mental Health and Outcomes Research (CeMHOR), we have a DEI Committee made up of staff, administrators and investigators from the three centers. Three SC MIRECC representatives are members of the 2022-2023 committee roster.
Joshua Hamer, PhD
I have been trained as a clinical psychologist and am functionally a health services researcher. My path has been riddled with experiences of adversity and inequity and working with the DEI Committee means that I am consistently making attempts to be the change that I want to see. Although the work to examine systems for inequities has just begun, I am elated that we are making efforts to be part of the solution to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion in our workplaces. DEI, in our context, means that we are working to ensure that all our workplace colleagues feel heard, have a voice, and are engaged throughout processes of implementing our DEI Task Force Recommendations. I appreciate that change is slow and that this work will likely take more time than I will be afforded as the inaugural, inter-organizational DEI Committee Chairperson. However, I am happy that I can actively contribute to helping our workplace cultures shift to be more authentically diverse and inclusive by examining many of our processes to enhance equitability. IQuESt Profile | BCM Profile | LinkedIn Profile | SCMIRECC Affiliate Profile
Derrecka Boykin, PhD
Dr. Derrecka Boykin is a clinical psychologist and health services researcher who is dedicated to advancing DEI initiatives within and outside of her work environments. Her personal and professional passion for DEI is inspired by her cultural upbringing and experiences as an African American woman from a rural town in the Midwest. Her background also drives her research program, which focuses on improving access to mental health care for underserved populations, including rural residents, persons of color, women, Veterans, and survivors of sexual trauma. For more information about Dr. Boykin and her work, visit Derrecka Boykin | BCM.
Kendall Moore, BS, U.S. Navy (Retired)
- The Ethics of Responding to Microaggressions and Discriminatory Requests: Presented by Ali Abbas Asghar-Ali, MD and David Wittkower, MA. The purpose of this live, virtual presentation is to provide attendees with an overview of the impact of microaggressions on clinical practice and how to respond to various types of microaggressions and discriminatory requests by applying a legal and ethical framework. (Adobe Connect Recording/No CEU)
- Expanding the Ability to Conceptualize and Converse About Race in Mental Health Settings: Presented by Angelic Chaison, PhD, Bethany Aiena, PhD, and Quang (Charlie) Nguyen, PhD. The purpose of this presentation is to enhance mental health providers’ ability to engage in self-education and meaningful conversations about race in order to address racial disparities and inequities in the context of patient care and team interactions. (VHA TMS/1 CEU)
- Cultural Competency in Disability: An Ethical Imperative: Presented by Erin E. Andrews, PsyD, ABPP. The purpose of this virtual training is to address the knowledge gap experienced by mental health providers in providing culturally competent and ethical care to Veterans with disabilities. (VHA TMS/1 CEU)
- Virtual Voice and Communication Training for Veterans in Transition: GAPS: Presented by Kimberly Eichhorn and Nan Musson. VHA is currently providing transition-related care to approximately 10,000 transgender Veterans, and Transgender E-consult data suggest that about 40% are living in rural areas. The LGBTQ+ Program Office and the Audiology and Speech Pathology Program Office partnered with the Rural Health Resource Center to develop a standardized protocol to deliver evidence-based voice and communication services for rural Veterans utilizing virtual technology. This course will provide an overview of the Gender Affirming Program with Speech Pathology (GAPS) for transgender Veterans including a review of the implementation, patient reported outcomes, referral process for the program, and recommendations for providers to support patient’s communication goals. (VHA TMS/1 CEU)
For more information about DEI in SC MIRECC, contact DEI Committee Co-Chair Dr. Joshua Hamer (Joshua.Hamer@va.gov).
Use of Our Materials and Finding VA Health Care
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Last updated: November 28, 2022