Career Entry Competencies
Graduates will demonstrate the skills necessary to advocate for diverse patient populations to include individuals and groups facing health care disparities and cultural needs within the United States. Graduates will advocate for patients and their family members who may have concerns or questions regarding health services within an institution to facilitate and promote continuous quality improvements in health care services.
At career entry, the DDA graduate will demonstrate the following entry level skills.
- Assess patient social determinates of health.
- Provide referrals to community-based resources.
- Ensure service linkage care.
- Advocate to reduce barriers and service gaps in patient care.
- Document and report client management and resources of need.
- Develop and deliver health care team and client cultural diversity training.
- Applying a team-based approach to care while working in partnership with patients/families to promote timely access to care, understanding of patient care that is culturally sensitive and language appropriate, continuity of care, and the improvement of the whole-person.
- Act as a Liaison for the patient, patient’s family members and visitors.
- Seeks out and responds to questions and inquiries that is of patient concern.
- Advise all relevant departments of our health care customers concerns that require staff intervention.
- Act as a Grievance Coordinator to understand, investigate, and take action on ethical issues, sensitive approaches, and care team’s interactions with patient and the patient’s family members.
- Act as an Information Resource to aid in gathering information through interactions with community, state, and national resources to ensure gathering and utilizing current data collection for patient populations.
- Act as an Institutional Change Agent to discuss patients and their family member’s reasoning for institutional changes based on recurring complaints, and results from surveys and advisory councils.
> Mature, experienced
> Focused on learning
> Professional and goal-oriented
> First of its type in the country
> Online delivery for working adults
> Variety of specialized faculty
Acceptance to the School of Health Professions is competitive, and students are admitted twice a year. The Admissions Review Committee considers the following items in the review process: Overall GPA, Math and Science GPA, completion of prerequisite courses, essay, professional references and interview. Visit the How to Apply page for more information.
Estimated tuition and fees for 12 semester credit hours is $2,000; Students participate in clinical preceptorships to gain professional experience.
Graduates' Employment Outlook
Graduates of the Healthcare Disparities, Diversity and Advocacy Program have many opportunities for future employment as they guide patients to positively impact their overall health outcomes. Employment is found in hospitals, non-profit organizations, community agencies or independent practices. Depending on the institution, graduates may be responsible for interviewing patients, identifying care problems, making referrals to appropriate healthcare services, directing patient inquiries or complaints, facilitating satisfactory resolutions, explaining policies to patients, assisting patients with choosing doctors, discussing treatment options, keeping track of prescriptions, accompanying patients to doctor appointments or conducting studies regarding quality of care.
Graduates of the HCDDA program may apply for positions at hospitals, cancer centers, rehab facilities, nursing homes, clinics, government agencies, insurance companies or for-profit advocacy firms. Graduates in this profession have opportunities for income growth, work-life balance, social impact, and solid job prospects.
The reports that the average annual salary for patient advocates is $52,520. Graduates with little experience may earn $31,790 annually, with the potential to earn $75,140 annually with additional years of work experience.
News & Notes
Dr. Imelda Wicks, who teaches DDA 4321 Accommodating Difference in the Health Care Setting in the Healthcare Disparities, Diversity, and Advocacy Program, received the 2023 Adjunct of the Year Award from the American Association of Adjunct Education. Dr. Wicks will receive the award at the annual conference of Texas Colleges Teachers Association. Dr. Wicks is the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Human Resources, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Nick Bibiano received the prestigious 2022 SAHPD Student Leadership in Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Award from the Southern Association of Health Professions Deans at Academic Health Centers. This is a highly competitive award recognizing outstanding leadership in diversity. Upon receiving this award from Dr. Krumwiede, Nick said, “It is an honor to be awarded (this) as a student of School of Health Profession and the Healthcare Disparities, Diversity, and Advocacy program. I would like to thank you all for the support in my application as well as my Program Director, Dr. Lee, and the other faculty and students that continue to drive my passion for DEI within the healthcare system on both clinical and educational perspectives for patients and people around the community.”
Throughout my professional experience, I have witnessed firsthand the significant impact that healthcare disparities can have on patient outcomes and overall well-being. Working at MD Anderson Cancer Center allowed me to understand the urgency of addressing these disparities and the need for dedicated advocates who can work towards bridging these gaps. This realization has fueled my desire to contribute more meaningfully to the field of healthcare, particularly in advocating for equitable care and improved access for all patients, regardless of their background or circumstances.
The DDA program resonates with me on multiple levels. The program's focus on disparity and diversity aligns perfectly with my personal values and professional aspirations. I believe that advocating for diversity and ensuring that all patients receive the same high-quality care are not only essential ethical principles, but key components of effective healthcare delivery. The program's emphasis on advocacy speaks to my innate drive to make a difference in the lives of patients and communities. I firmly believe that advocacy is a powerful tool to drive positive change, and this program will equip me with the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources to be an effective advocate for those in need.
The prospect of being part of the nation's number one cancer center and contributing to its exceptional mission is incredibly motivating. The experience I gained during my time at MD Anderson Cancer Center has only reinforced my belief in the transformative impact that quality healthcare advocacy can have on patients' lives.
The DDA Program aligns with my professional goals and values and presents a unique opportunity for personal growth and impact. I look forward to immersing myself in the program's curriculum and contributing to the ongoing efforts to create a more equitable healthcare system.
The education and experience I gained from the DDA program provided me invaluable knowledge that I have applied in my career. My degree has provided me with deeper insights in healthcare barriers and disparities that have helped me apply that in my current position. Knowledge from this program has allowed me to bring awareness to the healthcare disparities that patients face everyday. This understanding has helped my peers to try to break down those barriers to provide our patients the best experience possible. The DDA program also provided me opportunities that helped me apply what I learned to real life scenarios and an abundance of resources available for me to utilize. From serving on the student government executive committee, participating in volunteer work, hands on experience with the research department, and learning from the preceptorship, MD Anderson School of Health Professions has helped shape me to who I am today. My professors, classmates, and program director provided me with the support where I was able to truly thrive. This program has been a stepping stone for me to pursue my master's degree and opened many doors of opportunities for me.The education I received from the DDA program and the mentorship I received from Mr. Caldwell and Dr. Lee are the primary reasons I have been able to establish a Case Management Department at Shaunty Healing Center. Now, I am the Director of Case Management with three case managers. My experience with the School of Health Professions gave me skills that I use every single day both at work and in the world.
Director of Case Management
Shaunty Healing Center
Because of the DDA program, specifically the guidance from Dr. Lee and Mr. Caldwell, I was given the opportunity to do an internship at a residential facility that served adults with severe mental illness. This one placement completely changed my life. The month I graduated from the DDA program, [the] Clinical Director, approached me about becoming a Case Manager. This was not a position they had at the agency.
The education I received from the DDA program and the mentorship I
received from Mr. Caldwell and Dr. Lee are the primary reasons I have
been able to establish a Case Management Department at Shaunty Healing
Center. Now, I am the Director of Case Management with three case
managers. My experience with the School of Health Professions gave me
skills that I use every single day both at work and in the world.
Monica Blanton, B.S. HCDDA
Senior Admistrative Assistant
Strategic Comm-Community Relations
I am so PROUD to have received a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Care Disparities, Diversity and Advocacy (DDA). This program was a BIG eye-opener for me. I learned so much about the health disparities that plague our world from the past and, for our future. Being able to do this program online with a few face-to-face lectures was perfect for my schedule since I worked full-time. The instructors were very professional and flexible with their time to assist students throughout the semester. The program classes were very informative and cohesive to today’s needs and knowledge of healthcare disparities, diversity and advocacy. I love to think that I actually received three degrees in one! This degree affords me the ability to accept positions in several healthcare areas that assist and educate patients, educate our communities and advocate in areas that I am concerned about within our communities. My degree has given me more insight into how I think and interact with our community programs, even in my current position.
Irene Cormack-Pinal, B.S. HCDDA
Melanoma Medical Oncology
Even though I have been in Health Care for 17 years, the DDA program has opened my eyes to different aspects of health care that I had not been exposed to. There are so many things I have learned about health care disparities, advocacy issues, global health, medical ethics, healthcare policies, research methods, cultural competence, and patient experience. The DDA program covered all the medical issues and much more. The professors have been there from day one all through my journey.
Bertha Penrice, B.S. HCDDA
Field Relations Coordinator-STARKids Program
Deciding to go back to college and obtain my bachelor’s degree was a
major accomplishment for me. However, deciding to enroll in the DDA
program at UT MD Anderson has been even
more gratifying. The DDA program was everything I envisioned and more.
One of my passions is to help the underserved communities to provide
them with the necessary resources to help them thrive and have a
better quality of life. The knowledge I received to advocate for our
communities from a local level, governmental level, and global level
was taught throughout this program. It has helped me gain a better
perspective on healthcare policies, diversity inclusion, and
disability rights. The faculty are very knowledgeable and the courses
are beneficial to my current job role and for my future with job
advancement. I am proud to say I graduated from one of the finest
colleges in Texas and that is UT MD
Anderson School of Health Professions.
Tawana Cummings, Ph.D., LCSW, CHES, LSSGB
Case & Disease Management Manager
Care Coordination Department
Bertha's pursuit in her bachelor's degree in HC DDA has helped her to be more successful in her role. As a Field Relations Coordinator, Bertha is responsible for connecting members with resources in the community to assist the member or aid in improving the quality of life for the member. She has been tasked with networking and building partnerships with agencies who may provide services or resources to members we serve. Bertha has utilized the knowledge that she gained from her bachelor's program by focusing on issues that members in specific communities may be encountering, and target those needs for priority in finding resources for the members. She also ensures that the parents of the children can access the resources needed as there are often barriers to accessing available resources.
In addition to connecting members to resources and services that are beneficial to them, Bertha often advocates for the members and encourages the parents of the children to advocate for their child's needs. I have had several conversations with Bertha in which she spoke of how she coached the parents on actions to take on doctor appointments when parents did not feel they were receiving adequate education on their child's medical condition or they felt the treatment regimens were not helping their child. She also likes to attend trainings focused around advocacy to aid with improving her advocacy skills and share the information with the team.
I strongly feel that Mrs. Penrice obtaining her degree in Healthcare Disparities, Diversity, and Advocacy has led to her being more accomplished in her role as a Field Relations Coordinator. She is more confident with connecting members with community resources and she is becoming a great advocate and resource educator for the members on our health plan.
Stephanie F. Kim
Director, Community Relations and Education
I didn’t know much about the Health Care Disparities, Diversity and Advocacy (DDA) program when a member of my team, Monica Blanton, decided to apply. From a department leader perspective, I'm always excited when someone wants to further their education and when they pursue a degree that related to our department's goals, it's even better! Monica was able to do her preceptorship with us, which was an added bonus in my opinion. She worked on one of our education programs, In the Spirit of Health, that educates African-Americans on ways to reduce their cancer risk through a newsletter distributed at church. Monica used her knowledge gained in the DDA program to recruit new churches to participate, decide on topics to address, communicate regularly with church leaders and participate in the program evaluation.
Because our team has a focus on reaching African-American, Hispanic and Vietnamese communities, Monica also has helped us continue to learn about diversity and inclusion. After graduating from the DDA program, Monica brought her knowledge to our team by coordinating diversity activities and being an active participant in our discussions on health equity, racism and social injustice. Her thoughts and perspective have helped grow our programs and improve our knowledge as a team.