Jane W. Njeru, M.B., Ch.B.

  • Consultant, Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine
  • Assistant Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science

What moment or experience in your life influenced your decision to be a clinician?

While it is difficult to identify one specific instance, a number of factors played a role in leading me to begin the journey to be a clinician.

I became more aware of the need to help alleviate the pain and suffering of other people around me, or simply hold their hand through it, during my high school years when I witnessed much suffering following clashes among two warring tribes. It is a privilege to be able to do this, or attempt to, on a daily basis.

What motivated you to become a Population Health Scholar?

The Population Health Scholars Program is a very unique opportunity to contribute toward the health of the community by engaging the rigor of science in identifying best clinic- and community-based practices in population health and ways to apply them. As a primary care physician, this attracted me very much.

The intense training and mentoring in research and population health within the program is key in this process and will help me reach my goals, which are mirrored in those of the program.

What was your initial focus as a scholar within the Mayo Clinic Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery?

My main focus is health disparities, particularly those affecting patients with limited English proficiency who have multiple medical conditions. It is important to develop new practice-based interventions to reduce these disparities, while ensuring that current efforts to improve care within the patient-centered medical home, such as care management programs, contribute to reducing these disparities.

I am also interested in community-based participatory research and specifically work with immigrant and refugee populations in Rochester, Minnesota.

As a scholar in receipt of extended funding, what will your additional focus be?

During the course of my research, I plan to develop, test and implement a comprehensive socio-demographic and behavioral risk index to identify important predictors of health outcomes and health care utilization.

This will be achieved through the following consecutive steps:

  1. Develop and test a socio-demographic and behavioral determinants index of health in a primary care practice setting
  2. Implement screening of patients for unmet social needs using the validated socio-demographic and behavioral determinants index of health and referral to appropriate community resources via community health workers

How will your research improve patient care or impact public health?

The distinction between "practice" and "community" fades in the context of promoting and protecting community health. Within this interface, I hope to contribute toward improved patient care, particularly among those where this is lagging.

The effectiveness of this screening and resource alignment process will be assessed by measurement of outcomes of interest — health care utilization, cost of care and patient-reported outcomes — in a pre- and post-test design.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to pursue your career?

In Mayo Clinic, one finds successful and integrated efforts in patient care, research and medical education. Here, one has the opportunity to not only learn but also do things pertaining to these three areas, in the best way people know how.