An interview with Karen Curd, Program Manager, Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center in Indiana (MATEC-IN).
by Anna Morgan, MPH, RN, PMP, Senior Manager, Training & Education, NaRCAD
Tags: HIV/AIDS, PrEP, Training
Anna: Thank you so much for joining us today, Karen. We're excited to learn more about you and your program. Can you start off by telling us a little bit about your professional background and how you ended up in your current role?
Karen: Thanks for having me! I stumbled into public health by accident. I majored in kinesiology in college and interned with a health promotions department at a local hospital after graduation. That’s what really got me interested in health education. I ended up meeting somebody who worked at the local county health department in STI prevention.
She encouraged me to apply for an open position as a disease intervention specialist; that ended up being both a challenging and rewarding job. It taught me so much about public health and I was hooked! I moved on to work as the STI screening and surveillance coordinator, which allowed me to interact more with healthcare providers. Nearly a decade went by of working in STI prevention before I joined the Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center-Indiana (MATEC-IN) team as the training coordinator. I now work as a program manager at MATEC-IN.
Anna: We’re so happy you ended up in public health! Can you share more about your current role as program manager and about MATEC-IN as a whole?
Karen: MATEC is part of the national network of AIDS Education and Training Centers. MATEC houses 10 states across the region, and I work at a local partner site in Indiana. We provide training and technical assistance to healthcare providers throughout the state, primarily focusing on HIV and increasing their comfort and capacity to provide HIV care.
For those outside of the field, I usually explain my role as part health educator, part event planner, and part networking and resource specialist. A lot of what we do is connect healthcare providers to all the amazing organizations and individuals who provide support and care for people living with HIV. We spend a lot of time talking to people, finding out what information or resources they need, and connecting them. We also develop new tools and trainings as needed.
Anna: Your team is doing such incredible work supporting and connecting healthcare providers. How do you see the strategy of academic detailing fitting into this work?
Karen: The Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative aims to reduce new HIV infections in the United States by at least 90% by the year 2030 through activities focusing on four pillars. The four pillars are: diagnose, treat, prevent, and respond.
At MATEC-IN, we hope to focus our EHE efforts on the diagnose and prevent pillars by encouraging and engaging primary care providers throughout our state. We want to be recruiting these community providers to increase routine HIV testing, and to become comfortable recommending and prescribing pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, to their patients. We hope to use academic detailing to educate these busy providers. We see AD as another great tool in our toolbox.
Anna: You recently partnered with us for a customized academic detailing virtual training and successfully recruited 18 trainees. Can you tell us a little about what that process was like and what tools you used to recruit those trainees?
Karen: We planned our training as a regional MATEC opportunity and opened recruitment to our entire 10-state region to any organization funded by EHE. We first hosted an introduction to academic detailing session for our other MATEC sites which gave them an opportunity to learn about what academic detailing was and begin thinking about who they might want to recruit from their state for the 3-day NaRCAD training.
Because the training is extremely interactive and is limited as far as size, we wanted to make sure that we were recruiting the right individuals. Our director, Malinda Boehler, developed a recruiting tool that we shared with the different site directors in our region. We then asked each site to recruit two to three individuals from their state and have the individuals complete a short questionnaire that we developed prior to registering for the training.
Anna: You did a thorough job recruiting detailers and it shows; we had an amazing training with you all because you selected such engaged and passionate trainees. Do you have any tips you would share with other folks who are looking to recruit a large number of trainees for a customized training?
Karen: Set expectations. I would stress the importance of clearly defining training expectations as far as what attendees should and should not expect to learn over the 3 days. We wanted to make sure that it was clear to trainees that the NaRCAD training would not cover the day-to-day of how an academic detailing program would be rolled out at their specific institution, but rather the communication techniques used during an academic detailing visit. We had a lot of conversations with trainees before they came to the training and I think that helped to set those expectations.
Anna: That’s a great tip! You were in a unique position where you were able to observe the training. What were some of your key takeaways?
Karen: I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to observe. Even though I technically wasn’t a participant who engaged in role play, I found that learning from other trainees was the most valuable. The training facilitators were also excellent. They provided a very safe and structured environment for learning and role playing.
Not only did the participants have the opportunity to practice and role play, but they were also encouraged to offer feedback to peers. We had a range of folks in our small group; some had been working in the field for years and some were brand new to the field. It was amazing to see them learn from each other. One participant shared with me that the training provided them with persuasive communication skills that will be useful in situations outside of a detailing visit, like an interaction with a client, a patient, or partner organization.
Anna: The skills you learn at an academic detailing training can be applied to so many situations, including those with family and friends! Is there any additional advice you would share with others who are looking to become a detailer or support a detailing program?
Karen: Be flexible. When our team initially began looking for information about academic detailing, we were looking for existing materials that we could adapt for our state and do the detailing ourselves. After meeting with your team at NaRCAD and learning more about the process, we realized that we needed to redirect our efforts to recruiting trainees from EHE funded sites within our region to broaden our reach.
I would also recommend starting recruitment efforts early to allow plenty of time to find the right recruits in order to build a successful training cohort!
Anna: That's great advice, Karen. What does the future look like for this group of trainees and how do you plan to continue to support them across state lines?
Karen: Our region has hired an EHE coordinator who plans to engage frequently with the training cohort. We want to bring these folks together through monthly check-ins because we know that detailing can be isolating. Not all the trainees are doing the same exact work, but we think getting them connected with folks who are doing detailing in other states on the same topic will be beneficial.
We’ve also been spreading the word about academic detailing at our health department in Indiana since our state doesn’t have a structured AD program like some other states do. We hope to get more folks trained from our state in the future and use academic detailing across diverse topic areas.
Anna: How exciting! We’re thrilled to continue to partner with you as academic detailing expands throughout your state and region. We look forward to future trainings and hearing about your team’s successes!
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Biography. Karen Curd is the Program Manager at the Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center (MATEC) in Indiana. She has worked in public health for nearly two decades, starting her career as a Disease Intervention Specialist for the Marion County Public Health Department (MCPHD) in Indianapolis, Indiana. She also served as Screening and Surveillance Coordinator for MCPHD before transitioning to the role of HIV/MAI Training Coordinator at MATEC Indiana in 2011. In her current role of Program Manager, Karen oversees several MATEC initiatives focused on providing training and technical assistance to healthcare providers throughout Indiana. Karen received her BS in Kinesiology from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
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