Narayan Kulkarni is first MHA student to represent COPH in CLARION Case Competition

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USF College of Public Health (COPH) student Narayan Kulkarni was one of four USF Health students—and the first MHA student—to represent the university at the 2021 National CLARION Case Competition. The annual competition was held virtually this year from April 9-10.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to apply skills that one has learned in the classroom to a new problem and develop a deeper understanding of health care through a shared experience with an interprofessional team,” said Kulkarni, who will earn his MHA in May before embarking on an administrative fellowship with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in July.

CLARION (CLinician Administrator Relationship Improvement OrganizatioN) is a University of Minnesota student organization dedicated to improving health care through interprofessional collaboration. What started out as a local competition in 2002 became a national event in 2005. 

Narayan Kulkarni (Photo courtesy of Kulkarni)

According to its website, “CLARION focuses on the professional development of health professional students and includes lessons in leadership, teamwork, communication, analytical reasoning, conflict-resolution, and business practices. Participation in CLARION leads students to a more sophisticated understanding of the healthcare system in which they will practice.”

Both graduate and undergraduate students are eligible to participate. Teams consist of four students comprising at least two disciplines. They are given a case and are charged with creating a root cause analysis. The team presents their analysis to a panel of interprofessional judges that evaluates their analysis in the context of real-world standards of practice.

In addition to Kulkarni, the USF team consisted of:

The team was advised by lead faculty mentor Dr. Zachary Pruitt, a COPH assistant professor. They also drew on the expertise of other COPH faculty, including emergency-management expert Elizabeth Dunn and Director of Community Engagement Dr. Joe Bohn.

This year’s case, titled “Weathering the Storm,” featured the fictional Rivera Family, a family from Puerto Rico who relocated to Orange County, Fla., after Hurricane Maria. While in Puerto Rico, the family had difficulty finding steady employment. In the U.S. they had trouble finding a Spanish-speaking health care provider.

“I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with three amazing teammates in three other USF Health programs to solve an important and timely problem,” said Kulkarni. “Despite big differences in our program schedules and the scope of our training, our team quickly united around a shared vision of improved health and well-being for those displaced following natural disasters.”

USF Health 2021 CLARION team. (Photo courtesy of USF Health)

The USF students developed a community-led intervention called mBarrio. The plan involved:

  • The fortification of a Puerto Rican school for shelter
  • Outreach and community education led by “promotoras,” members of the community trained to deliver basic health information
  • A mobile app and web-based directory (with offline capabilities and Spanish-language support) to connect individuals to key resources after a natural disaster. 

Kulkarni said that in developing the plan, each student applied strengths relevant to their individual disciplines.

“For example, I did the budget and financial analysis for this case, which required skills that I learned during my time as a USF MBA student and developed further as an MHA student,” he said. “I also worked on the implementation plan for our intervention, which is something that I learned how to do in MHA program coursework.”

In the end, the USF Health team didn’t place. But the experience, said Kulkarni, was worthwhile nonetheless.

“I broadened my understanding of how doctors, pharmacists and physical therapists can help communities affected by natural disasters,” Kulkarni commented. “Since public health leaders are increasingly expected to partner with various stakeholders inside and outside of the health system, this experience helped me understand how public health leaders might team up with communities, medical professionals and non-healthcare leaders to address natural disasters. It gave me some appreciation of how difficult, yet how possible, it is to align disparate stakeholders toward initiatives that improve health outcomes.”

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health