Dr. Rice honored as one of NMQF's 40 Under 40 Leaders in Minority Health
Heather Marie Rice, Ph.D., APRN-CNP, PMHS was honored by the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) as one of their top 40 under 40 Leaders in Minority Health during the 2023 NMQF Summit on Health Disparities and Spring Health Braintrust. The award ceremony, which coincides with National Minority Health Month, was held in Washington, DC April 17 - 18.
“It was a very exciting and rewarding experience,” Dr. Rice said in a recent interview. “I’m very proud of the honor. The health summit brought together health professionals across many disciplines for two days, all with a focus on minority health disparities. Outside of the award, it was energizing to have so many people in one place with vested interests in the work we’re all doing for minority health.”
Since 2016, NMQF has selected 40 health leaders from minoritized populations under the age of 40 who have been leading the charge to better patient outcomes and build sustainable healthy communities.
These leaders are clinicians, patient advocates, researchers, and policymakers who have persevered in strengthening their communities and reducing health disparities amid ongoing challenges within the healthcare system.
Dr. Rice has been active in steering the regional Survive and Thrive initiative and with Birthing Beautiful Communities – a local nonprofit founded in 2014 expressly to reduce Black infant and maternal deaths. She acknowledged that wide-ranging support “allows me to do what I love and live in my purpose.”
“With my background as a pediatric nurse practitioner, I am passionate about how research can impact the work being done around infant and maternal mortality,” Dr. Rice said when the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE)’s Third Frontier gave the Survive and Thrive initiative a $957,387 grant.
She added that both Survive and Thrive and Birthing Beautiful Communities are so much more.
“Being able to coalesce social and clinical data with our team and in the community to uplift and support mothers and families is a personal mission,” Dr. Rice said.
The two-day summit “put an emphasis on policy, lobbying, and legislation,” as well as more relational ways to protect patients. Maternal health was one of the major focus areas, Dr. Rice said.
“It also offered all kinds of unique perspectives to consider, including research on doulas and midwives,” she added. “But the biggest connections made were to the NMFQ network of resources and mentorship—as well as larger, data-driven ideas and statistics that Ohio doesn’t collect.”
To hear her tell it, the NMQF Summit was an opportunity to take a breath before getting back into an upcoming, six-month stretch that includes “work on upcoming Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and National Institute of Health grants, publications, research studies and continuing to educate on maternal and infant health,” Dr. Rice said.
“These leaders exemplify our vision of ‘Reimagining Our Healthcare to Protect the Most Vulnerable’ and are making incredible strides in health equity,” said Dr. Gary Puckrein, President and Chief Executive Officer at the National Minority Quality Forum in reference to Dr. Rice and the 39 other award winners.
“We recognize the dedication and passion displayed by these young leaders because we know that they will work to improve the health outcomes of everyone served by our healthcare system.”