The core values of VA – Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence – describe the exemplary behavior of VA’s dedicated staff that provides proactive, personalized, patient-driven health care for our Veterans. The personal stories of VA’s health care and support professionals are many, and they inspire us all.
Dr. Leslie Hausmann recently was recently recognized as a finalist in the Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs 4th Annual Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Awards. Thank you for your hard work and dedicated to our Nation’s Veterans, Dr. Hausmann!
Written by: Dr. Leslie Hausmann, PhD
Core Investigator at the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
After completing my doctorate in Social Psychology in 2005, I joined VA for what I thought would be a short-term post-doctoral training experience. In graduate school, I had developed research expertise in the areas of stereotyping, prejudice, and intergroup relations. Upon graduation, I wanted to use my expertise to address real-world problems in real settings (i.e., not just in controlled, artificial, lab-based situations).
This desire led me to accept a training opportunity in the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP), a research center at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System devoted to identifying, understanding, and eliminating health care disparities across different patient populations based on things like race, gender, income, etc. My reasoning was that working at CHERP for a year or two would give me the chance to learn how to apply my social psychological expertise to research that would benefit real people (e.g. Veterans who are at risk for experiencing worse health care or health outcomes).
What I thought would be a brief training opportunity evolved into a long-term and fulfilling research career as a VA-based health services researcher with a joint appointment as an assistant professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. I had (and still have) amazing mentors at CHERP who helped orient me to the VA health care system and see how my strengths as a social psychologist could best benefit Veterans and VA health care delivery. These mentors supported me as I applied for and obtained career development and research funds through VA–a funding mechanism I did not know existed until I joined CHERP.
All of my work has focused on the long-term objective of ensuring that Veterans of all races and genders have an equal chance of experiencing high-quality and equitable care and health outcomes. Much of my work has focused on sensitive issues such as discrimination and bias, which can be scary topics for large health systems to face, especially when subjected to close public scrutiny. However, despite public perceptions, VA is an organization that constantly strives for improvement, and I have been impressed at how VA has embraced my research program devoted to eliminating health disparities and striving to create a health care system in which all Veterans receive excellent care and are valued equally as patients and as people.
From my perspective, VA is a place that values forward-thinking individuals who are willing to strive for excellence every day. In my experience, VA is interested in delivering high quality and equitable health care to all Veterans, and welcomes individuals who are willing and able to help our organization achieve these lofty goals.
I continue to be impressed by VA’s commitment to supporting multidisciplinary research and development to inform decisions about health care delivery at all levels of the institution. I am happy that I have found a career home in which I can conduct research that can potentially benefit such a large institution and patient population. Anyone interested in pursuing high-impact, health-related research should seriously consider VA as an option.
Leslie Hausmann, PhD
A social psychologist by training, Dr. Hausmann is the recipient of a VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Career Development Award to advance her research concerning patient perceptions of discrimination in the health care setting and the effect of perceived discrimination on interactions with the health care system and health-related outcomes. In her work, Dr. Hausmann has explored how perceived discrimination within the health care system relates to patient-provider communication, treatment decisions about osteoarthritis, overall health status, and utilization of preventive health care services. She is also working to develop and test interventions to reduce the negative effects of discrimination using strategies that target both patients and health care providers. (Source)