Professional development

Texas family physician lands prestigious CDC fellowship

Didi Ebert, DO, MPH, MS, will complete a population health fellowship that offers formal training in policy analysis and development as well as program evaluation.

This story was originally published by UNT Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and is reposted here with permission. It has been edited for The DO.

Didi Ebert, DO, MPH, MS, an associate professor in family medicine and osteopathic manipulative medicine at the University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNTHSC/TCOM), is passionate about closing the gap on racial, ethnic and social disparities in health care.

Her passion, combined with compassion, has helped her land a highly coveted Population Health Training-in-Place Program (PH-TIPP) Fellowship with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The yearlong fellowship, which starts in July, provides formal training in policy analysis and development as well as program evaluation.

Didi Ebert, DO, MPH, MS

‘Whole health model’

“This fellowship is going to give me a skillset that will allow me to evaluate and lead program development around the whole health model for our primary care team,” Dr. Ebert said. “I want our team to innovate and lead, using the osteopathic whole health model to create personalized health plans. I want us to be able to delineate social determinants using the data we have on populations and use that data for values-based care and an improved integration of primary care with public health.”

During this one-year, on-the-job professional development opportunity, Dr. Ebert will engage in a training experience using projects from her day-to-day work. PH-TIPP training uses evidence-based approaches to help participants develop and enhance their population health and data modernization skills and add value to their organizations.

“Dr. Ebert will be trained by experts at the CDC to better understand how to implement health care policy on a local as well as national level that will have a significant impact on population health,” said Curtis Galke, DO, UNTHSC/TCOM’s chair of family medicine and OMM. “Dr. Ebert has worked collaboratively across many of the colleges to address population health and health care disparities, especially among minorities and the medically underserved. This fellowship will give her the tools to take her work to the next level in providing for those who are the most medically vulnerable in our community.”

Dr. Ebert, along with her teaching, practices in the Health Science Center (HSC) Health Clinic, seeing patients on a regular basis. It’s here that Dr. Ebert, a 2007 UNTHSC/TCOM grad, sees disparities and wants to lead the family medicine team to break down the barriers to create a more community-oriented primary care system within the clinic.

‘Addressing health equity’

“In Texas, racial and ethnic disparities are still a very big gap,” Dr. Ebert said. “For me, the motivator was to grow a skill set I thought would help the family medicine team in addressing health equity, because we can do so much more and be a leader on this issue. We are working to use the current data on social determinants to find out why patients aren’t able to come to the clinic, what are the barriers and how to develop a model to address these issues.”

The social determinants of health are oftentimes buried below the surface and aren’t easy to identify. Common barriers are availability of resources, transportation, education quality, public safety, social support, language, literacy, access to technology, cultures and availability of health care and community based resources.

Dr. Ebert dedicated herself to learning the complexities of the health care system. The fellowship will give her the professional development and the business acumen in the system to bring that back to the practice.

“I know we can do better in our community through primary care to address health inequities,” Dr. Ebert said. “I think we [HSC] are really well-positioned to make that happen now, and I’m so excited that I can be part of that team to align primary care and public health.”

Participants in the fellowship must complete population health projects that address the following two Preventive Medicine Residency and Fellowship project areas: policy analysis and development. The fellowship will give Dr. Ebert training on understanding the legislative process and the roles and influence of various stakeholders as well as the ability to draft, revise or analyze the impact of public health policies.

‘A missing piece’

“The AAFP [American Academy of Family Physicians] has called us to action on this topic,” said Maria Crompton, DO, an assistant professor at TCOM and medical director at HSC Health Family Medicine Clinic. “We as providers must recognize the importance of public health and how we need to lean on each other more than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly showed us this, but we have other epidemics, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression.”

The fellowship will be the culmination of Dr. Ebert’s growth in primary care, public health and professional development. She initially believed it would be a long shot to land the fellowship, but she sought out the best so she can bring back the best for her community.

“We knew we needed something else,” said Dr. Ebert. “There was a missing piece to the awesome work we are doing here to bridge the gap. I want this fellowship to help our family medicine and primary care teams to lead. We want to mentor and coach our providers of the future who want to do this work for the community.”

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