Two Arizona Nursing Professors Accepted into Native Research Ambassadors Program

Oct. 31, 2019

Last month, two University of Arizona College of Nursing professors were accepted into the American Indian Health Research & Education Alliance’s (AIHREA) inaugural Native Research Ambassador program. Clinical Associate Professors Timian Godfrey, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC and Michelle Kahn-John. PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, GNP, applied for the program in August and were notified of their acceptance on September 15.

“This fellowship directly reflects Dr. Kahn-John’s ongoing work,” said Mary Koithan, PhD, Associate Dean, Professional/Community Engagement. “She is a disseminator and sharer of Native knowledge and wisdom. The funding and professional support will facilitate Michelle’s work and her commitment to conduct her traditional knowledge dissemination in a respectful and culturally congruent manner.”

“Dr. Godfrey embodies all the qualities the program represents,” said Allison Barlow, Director, Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health. “Through the additional skills gained in this program she will continue to contribute to the health and well-being of Native communities throughout the nation in a way that few others have achieved.”

The AIHREA is an alliance of organizations whose mission is to partner and collaborate with American Indian peoples, nations, communities, and organizations to improve the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of American Indians throughout the United States through quality participatory research and educational programs. The alliance’s Native Research Ambassador program is designed for individuals working in Native communities. Program participants will receive instruction from academic researchers and community partners in community-based participatory research, working with academic researchers, and grant writing.

In addition to being awarded certifications as Native Research Ambassadors, at the end of the program Drs Kahn-John and Godfrey will have written a grant that is ready to submit to their selected funding institution. 

We caught up recently with the newly minted Ambassadors to find out more about their hopes and plans for the program.

Dr. Godfrey:

Why did you apply to the Native Research Ambassadors Program?

I first learned about the program from Jordyn Gunville, a PhD student at the University of Kansas and a colleague of mine from the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health. She was a key member in developing the program and describes it as being “designed by Natives for Natives”.  The concept of strengthening grant writing skills through instruction from successful Native researchers is the most appealing component of the program for me. I applied because I want to increase my knowledge and refine the skills necessary to effectively write grants that benefit our indigenous populations. 

What grant/research are you interested in exploring through this program?

Currently, I am involved in a grant program, led by Dr. Michelle Kahn-John, aiming to provide opportunities and mentorship for Native students going into nursing. The grant team will work closely with community partners to identify areas needing support. I hope to explore opportunities to enhance the support we are able to offer community partners. 

What does it mean to you, personally and professionally, to be accepted into this program?

I am honored to have been accepted into the inaugural Native Research Ambassador Program. It’s empowering to work with fellow Native health professionals who share the same passion and mindset in improving the health of our indigenous people. There is strong motivation to keep moving the work forward, despite the setbacks encountered, in programs like this. Professionally, I believe this program will broaden my skill set in academia and strengthen the capability I have as a nurse to help others. 

Dr. Kahn-John:

Why did you apply to the Native Research Ambassadors Program?

The Native Research Ambassadors Program extends training support and mentorship for Native American scientists and scholars interested in conducting research in collaboration with Native American communities.  The UA CON is fortunate to have two Diné nurse clinicians and scholars on faculty and both of us were accepted as Native Research Ambassadors, very exciting.  I extend gratitude to the N-RAP, Dr. Timian Godfrey (Diné) for sharing the information on the N-RAP opportunity and to Dr. Terry Badger and fellow UA colleagues for their ongoing support of our scholarship. The support offered through programs like N-RAP and the UA CON is critical to our success as Native Nurse scholars. A program focused on the support of Native scientists is an opportunity that I couldn't pass up and I'm grateful for the privilege to be accepted into the N-RAP program. 

What grant/research are you interested in exploring through this program?

My current and future research focuses on the relationship between Native American culture, resilience, spirituality, ceremony and health outcomes of Native populations. With the support of N-RAP, I intend to further develop my research skillset, in collaboration and partnership with other Native researchers while honoring the process of collaborative, respectful, relational, reciprocal and culturally congruent research approaches when working with Native communities. 

What does it mean to you, personally and professionally, to be accepted into this program?

I'm honored to be one of 20 Native Research Ambassadors selected for the 2019-2020 cohort. I'm especially interested in the inter-tribal exchange of thoughts, ideas and approaches that we as Native Research Ambassadors will discover and experience during this year of mentorship and support as we embark upon further development of culturally congruent and relevant research with Native communities.