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Harkness Fellowship for Laura Shields-Zeeman

July 12, 2018

Dr. Laura Shields-Zeeman has been awarded a prestigious Harkness Fellowship in Healthcare Policy and Practice. Starting in September, she will spend 12 months in California, based at University of California in San Francisco and working with other health management organizations and universities on addressing the social (non-medical) determinants of health, such as housing conditions, financial security, and income.

“Social factors beyond medical care have a very large impact on health outcomes of a population, so prevention is really about finding appropriate ways to address those factors proactively” says Shields-Zeeman. Her research project will look at how to address social needs among vulnerable groups in the United States. 

Laura sees the fellowship as a unique opportunity to accelerate learning to be able to have greater social impact. She intends to share her rich experience and lessons from the countries where she has worked (the Netherlands, Moldova, India, etc.) to the U.S. Additionally, she aims to gain exposure to innovative programs in the U.S. that tackle social needs of people with mental health problems and be a proactive part of knowledge sharing with other Fellows and bring new ideas with policy relevance back to the Netherlands.

Laura currently works as a Senior Healthcare Implementation Specialist in the Trimbos International Department. She holds a wide range of experience in mental health services research and development, with a particular focus on implementation of mental health interventions in low and middle-income countries. This includes her work in the European and the South Asian Region:

  1. SPIRTI: Suicide prevention project in India
  2. The implementation of community mental health care in Europe
  3. The reform of mental health services in Moldova

The Fellowship is co-financed by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports (VWS) and The Commonwealth Fund. Laura aims to relate her findings from her fellowship to the Dutch context by disseminating findings to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports as well as health insurance companies in the Netherlands.

Harkness Fellowships provide a unique opportunity for health professionals, to spend up to 12 months in the United States conducting a policy-oriented research study and working with leading U.S. health policy experts. Fellows participate in a series of high-level policy briefings and leadership seminars organized by the Fund throughout the year and become part of a dynamic international network of health policy experts that offers the opportunity for ongoing collaboration. Harkness Fellowships are renowned as a space to think big about important challenges in health care policy and practice in the U.S. as well as in our home countries.

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