Joined USJ: 2014
As a trained family nurse practitioner, Melissa Mokel has seen social and cultural disparities in health care firsthand. Mokel says many ethnic groups lack information and treatment for their illnesses. “Despite increased efforts made to improve population health, I don’t get why, with all the health care providers, some populations are consistently worse off than others in terms of outcomes like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis,” she says. It was during her doctoral research internship that Mokel saw the value of improving health outcomes. She learned that through understanding and communication, health care professionals could communicate more effectively and intervene using culturally sensitive approaches. Mokel also discovered that some patients do not follow through on treatments and she wanted to know the underlying reasons.
In one of her health studies, Mokel recalls that patients of various socio-economic backgrounds usually could not relate to some of the questions on the data collection survey. “The language wasn’t culturally relevant,” says Mokel, noting that life circumstances were not taken into account. If research questions are not broad enough, it will void the validity of the survey, she says. Mokel also found that that some people do not comprehend the importance of a treatment or acccept their medical condition because of cultural or religious reasons. At USJ, Mokel emphasizes to her Nursing students that practitioners should incorporate cultural sensitivities in their approach to in health care.
Mokel is continuing research on socio-cultural research methods to address the lack of health care in diverse communities. She wrote two articles, published in The Journal of Transcultural Nursing and The Journal of Nursing Measurement. She embraces her role as a professor as a way to teach students how to better serve all communities with respect to diverse and cultural experiences.
Ph.D., University of Connecticut
M.A., Yale University
B.A., Wesleyan University