January 15, 2019 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Health services policy and management (HSPM) assistant professor Peiyin Hung has been selected by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) to join the 2019 cohort of the organization’s Rural Health Fellows Program. Designed to prepare emerging rural health experts for leadership roles in advancing the health of rural America, the program consists of one year of intensive training.
With an overarching goal to advance health equity, Hung can trace her interest in the field to her childhood. She was at her grandmother’s bedside, just before she died in a large, impersonal medical center, when her grandmother explained the feeling of being invisible to hospital personnel.
“My grandmother, who had only a high school certificate, said ‘you have to be highly educated to be seen,’” Hung remembers. “My grandmother's last words were my first personal experience with healthcare disparities.”
Eleven years later, Hung’s first substantive research experience helped further shape her career path. In 2005, after completing a bachelor’s degree in the health services administration department at Chung-Shan Medical University in her native Taiwan, she conducted a year-long research project assessing the impact of bedside technology (e.g., computerized physician order entry). She found that these technologies benefit younger patients but were associated with increased mortality among older adults.
“Meanwhile, I realized that describing differential policy effects across populations highlighted the importance of attention to equity, disparities and vulnerable subpopulations in evaluations of clinical interventions and the consequences for patient care,” Hung says. “I therefore devote my lifetime to health services research to advance health and healthcare for all.”
In 2008, Hung traveled to the United States to attend a certificate program in medical management at the University of Washington followed by a master of science in public health at Emory University. After graduating with a Ph.D. in health services, research, policy, and administration from the University of Minnesota in 2017, she moved across the country for a third time to gain additional research experiences as a postdoctoral associate at Yale University.
This fall, Hung made her fourth cross-country move to join the Arnold School’s HSPM department. One of the reasons she chose to join UofSC is the Arnold School’s dynamic teaching and research environment, which complements her own interests.
“The opportunities on teaching doctoral-level health services research allow me to employ my interactive, example-based teaching approach to help students develop the ability and confidence to critically assess health policy issues in an innovative and rigorous manner,” Hung explains. “My passion for teaching comes from the joy I take in watching students develop the skills for health services research in the classroom and the knowledge that they will be able to apply them in their lives and careers. As an educator, I seek to assist students as they transition to higher education both academically and culturally and to help them learn to think critically about health systems and health policy.”
“I was also attracted to the diversity of faculty and student body–particularly those who, like myself, hail from other parts of the world and wish to bring those perspectives to their academic work,” Hung adds. “I knew that working with them would facilitate my research developments on global health policy issues and further advance health equity for all across geographic and socioeconomic boundaries via productive, insightful research collaborations.”
Another major perk was the opportunity to collaborate with the team of researchers at the Rural and Minority Health Research Center, where Hung serves as an affiliate faculty member. “They are passionate about fighting for rural health equity, and I was eagerly looking forward to collaborating with them to further advance the state of knowledge regarding rural healthcare access, quality, costs and policy reform,” she says.
Hung’s own research program is ambitious as well. Her work focuses on analyzing health disparities related to geography, healthcare delivery and quality, and women’s health. In particular, she has studied the effects of rural health policies and service line changes on quality, access and welfare of patients.
Thus far, Hung’s efforts have resulted in more than 20 publications in peer-reviewed journals (e.g., Journal of the American Medical Association, Health Affairs, Medical Care) and multiple honors, including two statewide student paper competition awards and three national awards. Her most recent selection into the NRHA Rural Health Fellows Program provides further evidence of her growing contributions to the field.
Moving forward, Hung plans to continue to build the body of knowledge surrounding her research interests by utilizing her strong connections with scholars in the U.S., Taiwan, and China. She’s also looking forward to pursuing the opportunities offered by the Arnold School and her department to support junior faculty. These opportunities include access to unique databases, enabling Hung to investigate many lifelong health services questions that she has been eager to answer.