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The Story Behind SNAP Benefits (aka Food Stamps)

Several years ago, I was involved in a food distribution program. The program was a cooperative program between the church I attended, an elementary school, and a local food shortage distribution organization. During the time I volunteered with this program, I discovered that several misconceptions exist about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) and eligibility criteria.  Many of the individuals who worked with the program had never received SNAP benefits, myself and my household included, so they were unaware of some of the issues associated with SNAP benefits. History Behind Food Stamps Food stamps got their start during the Great Depression.  The program was initially established in 1933 to distribute excess food supply from farmers to hunger relief programs. In 1939, the Food Stamps Plan, as it was called, was created under the New Deal.  Low income individuals would purchase food stamps to purchase food and other necessary household items. At the end of World

Recognizing Hierarchy in Healthcare

Most healthcare organizations are based on hierarchical systems. That means that each person is ranked within the healthcare organization based on their own particular skill sets or abilities. Even within professions, such as nursing, a hierarchy exists. This hierarchy is determined by the positions themselves and also by levels of education and experience. State licensing requirements also establish assignments based on abilities, training and expertise and scope of practice. For example, the nursing profession has its own hierarchy. This is based on level of training and experience. Certified nursing assistants (CNAs)  report to nurses.The nurse may be a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN). The LPN has approximately 18 months training, whereas an RN has to two to four years of training. An LPN often reports directly to an RN. Within the RN's, there is also a hierarchy.  Registered nurses may either hold an Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor

Establishing Equity

One way to continuously address and potentially mitigate diversity and workforce challenges is by establishing equity.  Naturally, there is no way to create equity in every area for every person. However, policies and procedures and hiring practices should demonstrate the organization's core values that are equitably applied to all employees. 1. Creating diverse staff and leadership. In a 2001 report by the Office of Minority Health, National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) were identified. CLAS standard 2 was to "recruit, retain, and promote"..."diverse staff and leadership that are representative of the demographic characteristics of the service area." In order to accomplish this goal, employers should create a diverse staff at all levels that is a general representation of the population in its geographic service area. For example, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, in the Kansas City, MO, area, the population is 59

Addressing Healthcare Workforce Shortages During Low Unemployment

After several years of high unemployment and essentially an employer's market for healthcare organizations, the tables have turned, and employers are facing low unemployment and workforce shortages.  The workforce shortages include some of the same issues already present, such as in nursing, and some new shortage areas, such as in behavioral health and social work. Employees are now becoming more in demand to fill empty positions, and employers are seeing themselves moving from a high supply of applicants to a low supply of applicants and from price makers to price takers. In order to combat the workforce shortage, healthcare organizations must address the long time looming concerns and complaints of those already in their employ and those wishing to be employed by their organization.  Here are some suggestions to do so: 1. Treat all applicants like potential employees/customers/patients. Every applicant who walks into a healthcare organization could be a potential hire. As

Steps to Prevent Mobbing...It's a Public Health Issue

Mobbing is a type of bullying that occurs in schools,  workplaces, churches, communities, even in healthcare organizations. Mobbing typically starts with one individual, a leader of sorts, who then solicits secondary individuals to assist in the emotional abuse of a target. Thus, mobbing becomes bullying of one person by many individuals. As indicated in a 2009 article by M. Duffy in Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, bullying affects the health of an individual. Mobbing against an individual further creates a loss in multiple ways for a healthcare organization. Although the nursing profession is often identified as an area where mobbing and workplace bullying occurs, mobbing may occur in any area of a healthcare organization, even among leaders. The Workplace Bullying Institute indicates that often high performers are the target of workplace bullies, or mobbing. The targeted individual is often perceived as a threat in some way to the bully or mob. The "thr

Weight Bias in Healthcare Hiring

In the late 1990s, obesity became a billable code. That means that doctors could list obesity as a health care diagnosis and receive payment through insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare. Since that time, obesity has been at the forefront of public health issues. A desire to eradicate obesity from the population has become evident, and it has even extended into healthcare hiring practices. In 2012, a Texas hospital issued a policy those with a body mass index (BMI) over 35 need not apply. The rationale for the policy, however, was not health related. Rather, it stated that the individual's appearance should be fitting to the image the healthcare organization wished to project. According to the CDC, a little over one-third of adults in the United States are obese. In the case of the Texas hospital, that would mean that one out of three applicants would have been turned away because of their size. The CDC further states that weight bias in hiring does exist and that overweight

What does MPH stand for?

When looking at various credentials behind health care professionals names, someone might see the letters, "MD, MPH" or "JD, MPH" or "MHA, MPH" or "RN, MPH" or simply "MPH".  The MPH does not stand for miles per hour as some may joke.  Rather, it stands for Master of Public Health. Those holding an MPH complete graduate school training through programs leading to a masters degree. In order to be admitted into a masters level program, the candidate must first have earned a bachelor degree.  The bachelor degree typically may be earned at a four-year college or university in a variety of major areas. The graduate programs should be accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).  The criteria for accreditation includes areas such as Comprehensiveness, Rigor, Flexibility, Qualification, Opportunity, Recognition.  Degrees awarded may be in the following areas: behavioral and social science, biostatistics and informatics