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Salk Fellowship Kicks Off Aimed at Successful Maternity Policy Change

2020 Salk Health Activist Fellows

The Salk Health Activist Fellowship commenced on September 21st with 29 enthusiastic Fellows, ready to build their advocacy skills and tackle maternal health issues. As the United States heads toward a critical election, maternal health issues need to be front and center for voters and policymakers. Through this fall's Salk Fellowship, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) will support the activists as they forge ahead towards this goal. After the election and disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country will likely emerge into a period of unfreezing, when new ideas and policies can take hold. In a few weeks' time, the 2020 Salk Fellows will be prepared with the skills to effectively advocate for maternal health issues. The Salk Fellowship's focus plays into JHF's broader policy strategy, as the Foundation's Board members and many existing initiatives are shifting focus toward three policy objectives, one of which involves creating a comprehensive approach to pregnancy and post-partum care.

This Salk Fellowship also celebrates the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife through a targeted recruitment of nurses and midwives, who, fittingly, are often on the frontline of maternal health services and can play a critical role in advocacy. The 29 participating Fellows – ranging from graduate students to young professionals, including 12 nurses – will expand their activist and public speaking toolkit with case-making frameworks and skills around policy change. The Fellows hail from across Pennsylvania (Allegheny, Philadelphia, Warren, Williamsport, and York counties) and come from a dozen different universities representing 18 disciplines and specialties, including medicine, healthcare administration, social work, nursing, midwifery, occupational therapy, healthcare ethics, public health, emergency medicine, professional counseling, education, and more.

Earlier this year, JHF released a new ROOTS publication, Beyond Medicalization: Midwives and Maternity Care in America, that examines America's approach to pregnancy and delivery over the past century and expounds on opportunities for creating a more comprehensive approach to pregnancy and post-partum care. This material serves as a launch point for the Salk Fellowship curriculum and speakers that will join the Fellowship this fall. As they hone their skills and understanding of policy processes and effective advocacy, Fellows will hear from local and national maternal health advocates, elected officials, policy makers, and public speaking experts. For the finale, Fellows will be tasked with using their expanded toolkit to engage with PA legislators and staffers to advocate for a strategy on bills impacting nursing, midwifery, and women's maternal health issues.

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