Gerdien Franx Harkness Fellow Columbia UniversityWay With Words

Spotlight On Harkness Fellowship, Columbia University

We talk to one of our prestigious clients, Dr Gerdien Franx, a Harkness Fellow, who was selected by The Commonwealth Fund to undertake a qualitative research project at Columbia University. As a client of Way With Words, we interviewed her to get the low-down on what she’s been up to.

What institution are you part of?

The Commonwealth Fund in New York, USA, and the Trimbos-Institute in the Netherlands.

Please tell us a bit about the Harkness Fellowship

The Commonwealth Fund initiates and funds the Harkness Fellowship in Healthcare Policy and Practice. After being selected in their home countries, a Harkness Fellow is supported financially and organisationally by the Fund to conduct a research project in the field of their experience at a top institution in the US. Harkness Fellows come from a range of countries: each year two Fellows from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands are selected.

Where are you from?

I work in the Trimbos-Institute, the National Institute for Mental Health and Addiction in the Netherlands, as a Manager and Researcher. I was selected by the Commonwealth Fund to spend 12 months as a Harkness Fellow at Columbia University in New York City, at the Department of Psychiatry to conduct a qualitative research project. I left for New York in September 2012 and came back to the Netherlands just a few weeks ago.

Please tell us a bit about what your project involved as a Harkness Fellow?

My work as a Harkness Fellow is concerned with how patients who have mental health needs can be best treated in primary care. In the US, I have been investigating policies, like Obama Care, and programmes in different states that aim to integrate primary care and mental health care.

What are some of the greatest achievements of the Commonwealth Fund?

The Commonwealth Fund has had quite a strong impact on the Health Policy Agenda in the US, not only through the work of Harkness Fellows, but also through projects sponsored by the Fund. They undertake an International annual survey in which the American health care system is compared to the performance of other western health care systems.

How did the Commonwealth Fund achieve this?

The Commonwealth Fund has managed to raise a huge amount of awareness within the US about existing problems within the health care system. They have also advised on new directions for a stronger and more cost-effective system. They achieved this through the survey conducted as well as through publications by esteemed researchers attached to the Fund.

Can you tell us some interesting things about the Harkness Fellowship?

The Commonwealth Fund was established in 1918 by Anna Harkness who endowed the Fund with a gift of $10,000,000. Her family continued to donate funds over the decades. Throughout its history, the Fund has been a catalyst for change, establishing a scientific evidence-base on what works, mobilising talented people and working with various organisations to achieve a high performing health care system in the US. I find this quite extraordinary, that one of the oldest charities in the US has been aware of the problems faced in the US for a hundred years or so, investing in a better future.  Have a look at the website www.commonwealthfund.org for more information.

What do you use transcripts for?

My transcripts are used for analysing the 24 interviews I conducted with clinicians, doctors, nurses, social workers, and staff, during my Harkness project at Columbia University.

Why did you choose Way With Words to provide this service?

I was advised to use Way With Words by another Harkness Fellow in my group, from the UK. She was pretty clear about the advantages of using you: good price, very accurate and timely as well as a high level of quality.

How do transcripts help you?

Transcripts are a crucial step in my qualitative analysis. I can’t do without transcripts if I am to publish a scientific, peer reviewed paper on this study.

Anything else you want to mention?

It has been a nice experience collaborating with Way With Words staff. I was used to working in a research team where we only had face-to-face meetings. This time, I communicated by phone and e-mail which worked very well for me. I did not have the feeling of being a number at all as I had a personal Operations Manager who kept me updated at all times.

Commonwealth Fund

2 thoughts on “Harkness Fellowship, Columbia University”

  1. A good read. Interesting to see the CF is making allowance for research in US healthcare. Interesting because I understood the CF to be serving the commonwealth territories only? Congratulations to Dr Franx for this achievement anyhow.

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