Ending health disparities can bring hope, health, and healing to Michigan and the world

March 21, 2022 - MSU Today with Russ White

Originally published March 21, 2022 at 7:27 AM EDT on WKAR:

Michigan State University's new strategic plan articulates a shared vision for the university through the end of the decade. MSU Strategic Plan 2030 Empowering Excellence, Advancing Equity, and Expanding Impact received the unanimous endorsement of the MSU Board of Trustees.

MSU Strategic Plan 2030 identifies goals within six key themes: student success; staff and faculty success; discovery, creativity, and innovation for excellence and global impact; sustainable health; stewardship and sustainability; and diversity, equity, and inclusion. On this edition of MSU Today, we'll be focusing on the sustainable health theme of the plan with its executive sponsor, Executive Vice President for Health Sciences Norman J. Beauchamp Jr.

“Sustainable health is a particularly important component of the strategic plan,” says Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “Some of the things we’ve done recently like our partnership with Henry Ford Health impact the state of health across the state of Michigan. We need to end health disparities in urban and rural areas in Michigan. Michigan State University can play a critical role in helping to do that.”

How does the plan define sustainable health?

“It’s about hope, health, and healing for all people,” says Beauchamp. “It’s consistent with our land grant mission. All people deserve the opportunity to improve their health and wellness.”

Conversation Highlights:

“To be sustainable we must train the next generation of individuals who are going to bring health, hope, and healing to all,” continues Beauchamp. “An ethos of health and wellness must permeate the entire campus. It’s about how we enable those who want to improve the health and wellness of others and then how we accomplish that in a sustainable way, day after day for generations to come.”

Innovations that make MSU a leader in sustainable health include the College of Human Medicine’s competency-based education, the College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Street Care program, and the College of Nursing’s simulation training.

Beauchamp explains how the county one is born in can dramatically impact a person’s health and wellness. And he describes curricular pathways into health for students to serve all of Michigan’s communities. “MSU is unique in its breadth of these opportunities.”

He elaborates on MSU’s collaborative ethos “to seek first to understand and bring value.” He cites MSU’s work in Flint and the Flint Registry as an example. “What are the challenges the community is working with us to solve? It’s an asset-based community approach. The strength of addressing any challenge exists in the community. Our job is to learn from the community about the ways they believe we can be helpful to them.”

Advancing equity is a critical focus of the strategic plan. Beauchamp paraphrases Martin Luther King Jr. who said, ‘Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman.’

“The color of your skin should not determine your likelihood of survival from cancer and negatively affect health outcomes or the length of your life for up to a decade,” Beauchamp says. “That’s inhuman and unacceptable. Those who can address that challenge must accept that challenge as an imperative.”

Partly through MSU’s presence in every one of Michigan’s counties through MSU Extension, Beauchamp says “MSU is uniquely poised to reach out to rural and urban Michigan, offer advice, have it accepted, and then evaluate if it’s working.” He also comments on the deficiencies in access people of color have to clinical trials for cancer and their impacts.

Beauchamp says the secret sauce that can lead to more funding for sustainable health initiatives is “our ability to collaborate internally, to partner with institutions that have similar values of improving health and the ability to find win-wins with those partners, and it’s absolutely being focused on the needs of the community in a way that resonates with them.”

He weighs in on the significance of the year 2030 in the title of the plan. “For things that matter, there must be a sense of urgency.”

On this edition of MSU Today, we've been talking about the sustainable health theme of MSU's Strategic Plan 2030, Empowering Excellence, Advancing Equity, and Expanding Impact with the executive sponsor of the theme, Executive Vice President for Health Sciences Norman J. Beauchamp Jr.

Read and learn more about MSU Strategic Plan 2030 at strategicplan.msu.edu.

MSU Today airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on WKAR News/Talk and Sunday evenings at 8:00 on 760 WJR. Find, rate, and subscribe to “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.