The Sage Colleges President Susan C. Scrimshaw has been appointed co-chair of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education.
Scrimshaw co-chaired her first meeting of the forum April 22 in Washington, D.C. at the National Academy of Sciences. Following the meeting, the forum sponsored a workshop at the academy on “Envisioning the Future of Health Professions in Education” April 23 and 24.
“Being appointed co-chair of this forum is quite a privilege,” Scrimshaw said. "The forum grew out of the Lancet Commission, which reported in that journal on the future of health profession education. I served on that commission and am now delighted to have the opportunity to further the work of rethinking how health professionals are defined and educated, and how they relate to each other, to communities and to the social determinants of health."
The Global Forum is an ongoing, convening activity of the IOM that brings together stakeholders from multiple nations and professions to network, discuss and illuminate issues within health professional education. More than 60 appointed forum members are academic experts and health professionals representing 18 different disciplines from nine countries.
Since its creation in 2012, the Global Forum has used its guiding principles to direct its work. These principles emphasize engaging students, being patient- and person-centered, and creating an environment of learning with and from partners outside of the United States. Members of the forum gather twice a year for forum-sponsored events to consider these principles during the agenda planning process.
Interdisciplinary academics, combining the professions and the liberal arts, community engagement, international exposure, and artistic and athletic endeavors are among the pillars of the educational experience at the Sage Colleges. Sage enrolls more than 3,000 students in bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs at the undergraduate Russell Sage College for women in Troy; the coeducational undergraduate Sage College of Albany; and the graduate-level Esteves School of Education, School of Health Sciences and School of Management, with programs on both campuses. Sage also offers adult education through the School of Professional and Continuing Education and via the Internet through Russell Sage Online.
Scrimshaw has served as president of the Sage Colleges since 2008.
She was born in Rochester and raised in Guatemala until age 16, when she and her family returned to the Boston area, where her father chaired the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
At Barnard College in New York City, she majored in Latin American studies and anthropology, then obtained her M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University, where she was a student of the famous cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead.
Scrimshaw has held numerous leadership positions in higher-education institutions across the United States. Most recently, she served as president of Simmons College in Boston. Prior to her post at Simmons, she served 12 years as the dean of the School of Public Health and professor of community health sciences and anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to those roles, she was associate dean of public health and professor of public health and anthropology at the University of California at Los Angeles.
A respected and accomplished scholar, Scrimshaw has chosen research areas including community participatory research methods, addressing health disparities, improving pregnancy outcomes, violence prevention, health literacy and culturally appropriate delivery of health care. She is the author of five books and numerous journal articles, book chapters and reports.
In the public health field, she has served with distinction on the Chicago Board of Health and the Illinois State Board of Health. She is a former chair of the Association of Schools of Public Health.
Active on a national level as well, Scrimshaw served six years as a member of the governing council of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. When she was elected to the IOM in 1993, she and her father became the first father/daughter pair in the IOM. She has chaired the IOM Committee on Communication for Behavior Change: Improving the Health of Diverse Populations, and served as a member of many IOM committees, including the Committee on Health Literacy. Most recently, Scrimshaw co-chaired an IOM workshop entitled, “Building Health Workforce Capacity Through Community-Based Health Professional Education” and was an author on an IOM report of the future of global health entitled, “Investing in Global Health Systems: Sustaining Gains, Transforming Lives.” Scrimshaw also served as a member of the National Academy of Science Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy.
Scrimshaw serves in leadership capacities in numerous professional and academic organizations. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as of the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology. She is a past president of the Society for Medical Anthropology. Internationally, Scrimshaw has served as president of the board of directors of the U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science.
In December 2014, Scrimshaw was presented with the Society for Medical Anthropology’s Career Achievement Award. For her work on the health of Latino populations, she received a gold medal from former President Vicente Fox of Mexico. Her many other awards include the Margaret Mead Award from the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology.
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