Director, RN-BSN Program
Assistant Professor of NursingJoined USJ: 2014
The Question of Why
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.
Breaking through Cultural Barriers
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.
Finding an Answer
Mokel is continuing research that reflects the scholarship of teaching and learning. Through her research she examines how teaching interventions prepare nurses to be practitioners who practice in a way that demonstrates cultural competency and caring. Her additional research is community based and involves health program planning (she is currently involved in a peer reminiscence intervention for minority elders and has also been involved with SisterTalk Hartford, a church based program designed to offer solutions to obesity and overweight in African American and Black women). Mokel 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.S.N., Yale University
B.A., Wesleyan University