National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health

The National Center of Excellence (NCoE) in Women’s Health is a program of Indiana University School of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The Center’s mission is to improve the health of Indiana women and their families through collaboration, outreach and education.

The work of this Center is making significant impact on population health in Indiana. Through the Making Healthy Choices program, for example, about 6,000 women have received free health screenings which has led to an 85 percent increase in contraceptive and cardiovascular knowledge and a 78 percent connection rate between women and community resources (medical, nutrition, insurance). Most program participants (65 percent) in the follow-up program made a positive behavior change.

Mobile Care Delivery

The National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health Outreach Program includes the Women’s Wellness on Wheels that reaches women where they work and live to provide free health assessments, including BMI, blood pressure and blood sugar. Nurse practitioners discuss participants’ screening results and lifestyle questionnaire to educate them about making healthy choices across their lifespan and address underlying barriers to success such as domestic violence and mental health. Participants set healthy lifestyle goals and are connected with community resources.

Making Healthy Choices

Making Healthy Choices has received grant funding from the Indiana State Department of Health, the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council and others to improve the health of Indiana women. Through the program, women improve access to health care, increase their knowledge of healthy behaviors, and are connected with local resources. A health coach provides follow-up with participants for six months to ensure health goals are met. Nearly 6,000 women have received free health screenings with the following impact: 85 percent increase in contraceptive and cardiovascular knowledge; 78 percent connected to community resources (medical, nutrition, insurance) and 65 percent of participants in the follow-up program made a behavior change.

Programs

The center has other active programs to improve wellness among women in Central Indiana as well:

Student Engagement and Education is possible for those in medicine, nursing and public health to complete a rotation in the outreach program where they learn firsthand the issues women of diverse backgrounds face at home, at work and in their communities.

Women of INfluence Initiative (WOI) is an avenue for women from government, business, health care, higher education, faith-based communities and non-profit organizations to come together to play an influential role in providing education and empowerment in areas effecting women’s health. These coalitions exist in Indiana’s Marion, Delaware and Allen counties.

Marion County WOI Coalition hosts the Women of INfluence Annual Symposium that convenes 150-200 women to learn about the most important health issues impacting women and families. This symposium covers a variety of topics such as heart health, eating disorders, adverse childhood experiences, human trafficking, menopause and sexual health.

Doris H. Merritt, MD, Lectureship in Women’s Health is presented annually as part of the IU School of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Grand Rounds. The Center is proud to present this lectureship in honor of Doris H. Merritt, MD, a pioneer in medicine, research, leadership, mentoring and philanthropy. Held on the second Wednesday in September, it features a renowned expert on the newest trends and current best practices in women’s health.

Negotiating the Divide is an educational forum on the discrepancy in pay between men and women, particularly in medicine and science. The Center holds the event annually at IUPUI on Equal Pay Day, the day women nationally catch up with men’s wages from the prior year. Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber also takes Negotiating the Divide on the road to most IU School of Medicine campuses, American Medical Women’s Association meetings, and other state medical schools.

HER Talks are educational forums for IU School of Medicine and the greater community to discuss the latest gender-specific research and its impact on women’s health. HER Talks are presented four times per year and feature experts from IU School of Medicine or Purdue Women’s Global Health Institute.

Center History

In 1997, Indiana University School of Medicine was awarded support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to become a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health. These Centers are located in academic medical centers, where they bring together the work of their schools and departments addressing women’s health. The Center of Excellence in Women’s Health at IU School of Medicine subsequently received support to be one of 11 national Center of Excellence Ambassadors for Change and to aspire toward the following goals: Develop and/or strengthen a framework to bring together a comprehensive array of services for women; Train a cadre of diverse health care providers that include allied health professionals and community health worker; Promote leadership/career development for diverse women in the health professions, including allied health professions and community health workers, and women/girls in the community; Enhance public education and outreach activities in women’s health with an emphasis on gender-specific and age-appropriate prevention and/or reduction of illness or injuries that appear controllable through increased knowledge that leads to a modification of behavior; Participate in any national evaluation of the CoE program; Conduct basic, clinical and/or community-based research in women’s health; Provide advice and guidance to other organizations interested in learning more about the CoE program.