What do you do at J-PAL? I provide research support for the Nurse-Family Partnership study, coordinating between the research team and providers on study implementation and analysis. I have also contributed to the facilitation of several J-PAL conferences, including for the State & Local Innovation Initiative and the Health Care Delivery Initiative. Lastly, I have been assisting editing a research resources document regarding RCT challenges.
What drew you to want to work at J-PAL? I rightfully anticipated that J-PAL would be a perfect fit for me to put my economics background to good use. It is incredible that the research resources created and impact evaluations conducted in our department have the potential to impact domestic and even global policy.
What is your favorite place in the world that you have been? Lake Atitlan, Guatemala – I went on a zip-line tour, and despite being incredibly nervous, the views were incredible as we were flying over coffee fields and rain forests as we looked out on the lake.
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? I would love the chance to speak again with the departed Fr. Ted Hesburgh, CSC – a former president of my alma mater whose actions had meaningful global impact.
If you could buy one material thing, and money was not an issue, what would you buy? A Viking stove top/oven to bake delicious cookies.
We partnered with the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services through our Health Care Delivery Initiative to evaluate their Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program. Nurses with NFP regularly visit low-income, first-time mothers at their homes to provide support for both mothers and children from pregnancy until the child’s second birthday.
Last month, J-PAL North America research assistant Pauline Shoemaker traveled to South Carolina for an NFP site visit. We asked Pauline to share some insights from her trip.
Why are site visits valuable for you as a researcher?
When on site visits, I have the opportunity to explore health centers located throughout South Carolina. Each implementing agency differs greatly, but every staff I’ve met has been welcoming and engaged. I’ve had the genuine pleasure of sitting with nurses, listening to their stories, taking notes and providing technical assistance when needed. We often conjure the best ideas as a group on how to improve J-PAL’s systems during these sessions.
Tell us about an interesting experience you had with NFP.
At one site, the site supervisor constructed a long looped paper chain to visually signify
each month’s enrollment target. When a nurse returns from her newest enrollment, she can detach a loop from the end of the paper chain to show everyone on site that they are one step closer to their enrollment goal.
I will also add that I have learned heaps about the various assessments for newborns, early child development, new motherhood, and more than I would have liked about the birth process in graphic clinical detail.
For those of us who don’t get to participate in an NFP training, what is it like?
This September marked our third training in Columbia, South Carolina! The J-PAL training is meant to teach nurses the skills necessary for the successful implementation of the study, as well as to provide a bigger picture understanding of why we evaluate. We normally start with stories of how the Pay for Success project came into existence through the collaboration and hard work of our partners. We like to explain the value of measuring impact in programs, and most importantly that the end goal for everyone is to improve health outcomes for vulnerable mothers in the state. Throughout the training, we guide nurses through the technical skills required to collect quality data by practicing on digital surveys and role playing informed consent. And of course, we always break for lunch.
What motivated you to become a research assistant on the NFP project?
I have a passion for understanding reproductive and maternal healthcare that I have been pursuing for the past several years through non-profits, individual research and now with J-PAL. It is tremendously interesting to see home visitation in practice, a Pay for Success contract up close, and policymakers at work—not to mention work with brilliant researchers on my team at Harvard and MIT.
What do you do at J-PAL? I provide general support to the research team and help manage incoming data for the Nurse-Family Partnership.
What drew you to want to work at J-PAL? The opportunity to utilize data and research to make logical and fact-based recommendations on policy improvements, allowing programs to run more efficiently and have a more significant impact.
What is your favorite movie quote? “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like”—Fight Club
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? Paulo Coelho
What do you do at J-PAL? I am a Research Associate. I primarily provide programming and data analysis support for the Nurse Family Partnership study. I also support the study through fielding support, including training implementers, grant writing, managing data, and study management.
What is the most interesting project you have worked on at J-PAL? A randomized evaluation of the Nurse Family Partnership home-visiting program.
What drew you to want to work at J-PAL? The opportunity to conduct rigorous evaluations of innovative healthcare delivery models with highly-skilled and knowledgeable researchers.
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? Elon Musk
If you had a million dollars to donate, what would you give it to? I would provide resources to entrepreneurs in developing countries, encouraging the adoption of technology and improved business practices.
During the webinar, Kate shared an in-depth perspective on her work as a primary investigator on an evaluation of the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) in South Carolina. This evaluation of NFP requires a strong partnership between government officials, health care practitioners, and researchers. Jason provided additional examples of J-PAL evaluations that require comprehensive partnerships.
The Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition aims to support the design of randomized evaluations through flexible pilot funding, technical support, and the cultivation of such partnerships. Learn more about the competition and how to apply here.
You can watch a recording of the webinar below. If you have any questions about the competition, please reach out to Competition Manager Jason Bauman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The competition will support U.S. federal, state, and local health agencies and other health care organizations in developing compelling and reliable evidence of innovative programs.
We will provide selected applicants with:
Technical support in developing randomized evaluations to study innovative programs and answer important policy questions;
$50,000 of flexible funding to help design and test the feasibility of these evaluations; and
Partnerships with experienced researchers from J-PAL’s network to implement the evaluations.
Applicants that partner with a J-PAL-affiliated researcher to design a high-quality randomized evaluation can apply for additional funding, typically in the range of $150,000 to $400,000, through the HCDI Request for Proposals. Letters of Interest are due on June 17.
We encourage all potential applicants to attend the webinar, which will be hosted by Katherine Baicker, Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Jason Bauman, Manager of the U.S. Health Care Delivery Initiative. Katherine and Jason will describe the policy-relevant and practitioner-focused research partnerships that the competition aims to support. Katherine is currently a member of one such partnership, as she and a team of researchers and policymakers are measuring the impacts of an expansion of the Nurse-Family Partnership in South Carolina.
To RSVP for the webinar, please register at this link.
A recording of our first webinar is available here.