Shannon Fuller considers her experience as a trainee at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity (CHE) “completely serendipitous,” stating “I can’t imagine my doctoral training without it.” Under the mentorship of Chidinma Ibe, PhD, Fuller has gained experience in health equity research, teaching, and working with community health workers. Through the training program, Fuller believes that “I’m gaining clarity on how I can infuse a health equity lens into my work moving forward.”
Fuller, a third-year doctoral student in the Health, Behavior & Society department at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, comes to Hopkins with a master’s degree in global health and experience as core faculty in the Global Health Sciences Master’s Program at the University of California, San Francisco, where she co-taught a course in qualitative methods. Prior to joining the CHE Trainee program, Fuller’s previous work focused on evaluating HIV care and prevention programs in collaboration with interdisciplinary teams.
Fuller’s dissertation, which focuses on community health workers’ experiences and the factors that can support their professional well-being, led her to the CHE Trainee Program. Fuller met her mentor during her first year as a PhD student when Ibe served as a guest lecturer in one of Fuller’s seminar classes. The pair “immediately bonded over [their] shared interests related to community health worker programs,” and Fuller enthusiastically joined the Trainee Program to further Ibe’s research efforts. Fuller is grateful for opportunity to have Ibe as a mentor, stating “She [Ibe] is so incredibly supportive personally and professionally – I can’t speak highly enough about her mentorship.”
As a trainee, Fuller has been involved in several studies, including the A Family First Initiative in Realizing Medical-Social Equity (AFFIRME) project, the Amplifying the Lived Experiences of Community Health Workers (ALEC) study, and the Dissemination and Implementation of a Community Health Worker Intervention for Disparities in Palliative Care (DeCIDE PC) study. Each study has provided Fuller with unique experiences in health worker and health equity research.
In the AFFIRME project, led by Ibe and Nakiya Showell, MD, MHS, MPH, Fuller was able to join the project during its early stages and be involved in intervention co-development. Fuller found this experience to be particularly enlightening, stating “coming from a background in evaluation, this was the first time I’d been involved in program development. It was a wonderful opportunity to see and be part of such a collaborative process.” Fuller has remained on the AFFIRME project and is currently working with the team on a paper that describes the program design.
As a member of the ALEC study team, also led by Ibe, Fuller assisted with the analysis of photovoice interviews with community health workers in Baltimore and contributed to a paper on the study, recently published in Health Affairs.
In addition to her work with Ibe and Showell, Fuller works with Fabian Johnston, MD, MHS on the DeCIDE PC study where she helps conduct focus group interviews with patients and caregivers to help inform the intervention design. She has also been involved in analyzing the study’s formative interviews with clinic partners and leaders.
"It was a wonderful opportunity to see and be part of such a collaborative process.”
- Shannon Fuller
On top of her work as a research trainee, Fuller works as a TA for the course “Applications of Innovative Methods in Local and Global Health Equity Research,” taught by CHE’s director Lisa Cooper, MD, MPH. Fuller states “I learn so much from working with the students, and it is an immense privilege to be part of the teaching team with Dr. Cooper. She is very invested in supporting her trainees.”
For Fuller, the opportunities she has gained as a CHE trainee have been invaluable, both for her dissertation work, and for her future career. Fuller says, “On one level, the mentorship I’ve gained as a trainee has helped me refine the ideas for my dissertation. But it has also done so much more. I’ve built connections that will form the basis for long-term collaboration.”
Fuller “can’t imagine [her] doctoral training” without the experiences she has gained from the CHE Trainee Program, and she encourages fellow graduate students to pursue the opportunities available through the program.
The CHE Trainee Program, founded in 2010, “provides opportunities to those seeking training in health equity research at all levels of experience…through formal didactics, mentorship, and sponsorship,” according to the program webpage. To date, the program has trained over 500 “exceptional people to conduct research, deliver care to populations that experience health disparities, and advocate for health equity.”
If you are interested in applying to be a CHE Trainee, you can learn more on the Trainee Program page of the CHE website and complete the CHE Trainee Interest Survey to be considered for the program.