GW Teams Take First and Second Place in Case Competitions

April 18, 2019

Two teams of students from the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) recently earned awards at case competitions. A team of Master of Health Administration (MHA) students won the National Association of Health Service Executives (NAHSE) Washington Metropolitan Area (WMAC) Healthcare Innovation Competition, and a team of undergraduates took second place in the Public Health Scholar Bowl’s case competition.

Many MHA and public health students participate in case competitions to develop innovative solutions for 21st century public health challenges. Milken Institute SPH MHA teams participate in a number of competitions each year.

MHA students Bushra Islam, Taneisha Laume, and Danielle Soto won the NAHSE WMAC Healthcare Innovation Competition with their innovative approach to improving access to healthcare services and healthy alternatives in Washington, DC. They envisioned how an online personal social worker they named Lola could be created to help DC residents identify and access healthcare and health resources and services.

“Our students displayed their knowledge of the difficult healthcare challenges faced by many residents of the District of Columbia,” says Robert Bonar, DrHA, the Milken Institute SPH’s Gordon A. Friesen Professor of Healthcare Administration and the director of the school’s MHA program. “Their solution demonstrates their deep understanding of the social determinants of health, the conditions in the places where people live, learn, work and play that can affect their health. They also showed a sophisticated grasp of how technology can be used to help DC citizens access both health and healthy resources.”

Undergraduate award
The team of undergraduate public health students who competed in the Public Health Scholar Bowl included Nicholas Anchustegui, Maria Cerio, Natalie Gelber, Mateen Ghassemi, and Alexandra Mandel. The bowl is held at St. Louis University, in Mo., and all of the competitors are undergraduate students.

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(L-R: Mateen Ghassemi, Natalie Gelber, Alexandra Mandel, Nicholas Anchustegui and Maria Cerio)

The focus of the case competition at this year’s Public Health Scholar Bowl was on using community-based participatory research to address a public health concern in the team’s community. The charge required teams to incorporate three areas of the social determinants of health as defined by the Healthy People 2020 website.

The GW team chose to address maternal and infant mortality in Washington, DC’s Wards 7 and 8, where many of the city’s most economically challenged neighborhoods are located. The GW team envisioned creating partnerships with local providers of prenatal care and community birth workers to help support pregnant women during their pregnancies and during the birth process, as well as after their infants are born. 

“The undergraduate students have a clear and detailed understanding of how the social determinants of health and access to care can impact pregnant women and newborn infants,” said Douglas Anderson, PhD, MHA, FACMPE, associate professor of health management at the Milken Institute SPH. “The students also showed their comprehension of the difficult issues facing pregnant women and newborns in some of Washington’s most challenged neighborhoods.”

Undergraduate public health students from the Milken Institute SPH have been competing at the Public Health Scholar Bowl, which includes a quiz bowl as well as the case competition, since 2013. “During this time, our students have won first place once and second place twice in the case competition,” Anderson said. “We have also won the quiz bowl twice and taken second place once. We have a strong history of participation.”