Jennifer Ridgeway2019 Rising Alumni

Jennifer Ridgeway

In her role as Assistant Professor of Health Services Research and Principal Health Services Analyst at the Mayo Clinic, Jennifer Ridgeway is committed to making sure that advances in medicine and information about best-evidence care are available to everyone. She was nominated by Stuart Yeh, her adviser in her evaluation studies doctoral program. Jennifer’s research aims to identify factors that promote or hinder the application and practice of evidence-based medicine, leading to significant improvements in effectiveness, efficiency, and equity in healthcare outcomes. She has established herself as one of the leading experts on the topic of knowledge and practice dissemination within health networks, with a focus on the disproportionate impact of medical errors and omissions on the quality of care received by vulnerable low-income and minority client populations. Jennifer says she benefits from her CEHD degree because it provided both practical experience and an educational foundation.

Current Job

Assistant Professor of Health Services Research; Principal Health Services Analyst, Mayo Clinic

CEHD Degree

PhD Evaluation Studies
Certificate Program Evaluation

Please list any professional accomplishments you wish to mention.

I recently received an appointment of Assistant Professor of Health Services Research in the College of Medicine at Mayo Clinic.

Volunteer activities

I currently volunteer at my church and with the women's leadership group of my local United Way. I really enjoy the opportunities I have to volunteer with the women of that group, for example working an evening meal at the Salvation Army together. When we lived in St. Paul I was an active volunteer in the League of Women Voters and worked as an election judge.

Awards

I won the Elmer and Olga Hauge Endowed Fellowship Award at the University of Minnesota in 2017.

What professor(s) or course(s) were most influential during your time in CEHD?

Stuart Yeh's guidance on my dissertation work was invaluable. I had done research and writing before, but a dissertation is different and I really appreciated his patience in helping me understand how to approach it and helping me stay on track to complete it. I also appreciated my coursework and informal conversations with Jean King and David Johnson. They are examples of leaders in the evaluation field who also demonstrate substantial dedication to lifting up others. Joshua Collins was also an inspiration in terms of his dedication to education, as well as his dedication to those who are participants in our research and evaluation.

What was the impact and benefit of your educational experience in CEHD?

I was interested in the Evaluation Studies program because of my interest in methods—the same interest that drew me to the Advanced Policy Analysis Methods track of my MPP. An unexpected benefit was the opportunities to be in courses with people in other areas of CEHD though, including people who were working in areas of education and human development that I did not see as naturally intersecting with health or health care. I learned a lot from hearing how they approached their own research topics, and I was energized by the exciting contributions they are making. In terms of educational benefit to my career, the CEHD program is one of the few and best dedicated doctoral level evaluation programs in the U.S. Many people do evaluation, but I am fortunate to have both practical evaluation experience and an educational foundation in the field of evaluation practice.

Who has inspired you the most during your career?

My father holds a 4-year degree and my mother holds a 2-year degree. I did not know much about graduate education or know many people who held advanced degrees when I was a child, which may be part of the reason it took me so long to advance to my master's and doctoral degrees. My parents inspired me in their dedication to their careers though, which they worked at tirelessly until they retired a few years ago. From them, I learned the value of hard work and a strong work ethic. Working in non-profit women's organizations, I was inspired by colleagues' dedication to work because it was work for others and work toward a greater good. At the legislature, I was inspired by the dedication of public servants. In my current role, I am inspired by the scientists who lead research and discovery, and the patient care workers who foster a place of hope and healing. There are a number of female physicians in particular who inspire me. They balance daily care for their patients with leadership of research programs aimed at improving care, including access to care for underserved members of the community. They inspire me because they are among the most caring physicians I have ever met, but they also dedicate time to scientific discovery, as well as improving practice and reducing disparities in care.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, what do you do?

I try to find 30 minutes every day to ride my bike—for much of the year it's my stationary bike! We try to bike when we travel too—my most exciting and harrowing bike ride being through the busy streets of Paris.

How do others describe you?

I think they would first say that I am hardworking, dedicated, and maybe a bit studious, but they would also note that I have a sense of humor and am relatively easy going. I am dedicated to my work, but I think they would also say that I am dedicated to my family and being a good mother to my two boys. I asked them to describe me, and they said I was polite, kind, and hard working. They also said I was smart, but I think that's because they've seen me go back to school as an adult, and that seems like a smart thing to them!

How do you describe yourself?

I am a curious, life-long learner who is always looking for opportunities to grow personally and professionally—my favorite vacations are ones where we get to enjoy nature but also visit historic sites or spend time in museums.

What's a good book you'd recommend to others?

I recently read the 2017 article "The Heroism of Incremental Care" by Atul Gawande. It's not a book, but it's an exceptional thought piece on the "rescuer" physician versus the "incrementalist."

What gets you excited about work?

It is an immense privilege to work at Mayo Clinic. The scientific advances in medicine are amazing, but the overarching focus on patient care is the heart of it all. I do not work in direct care delivery, but I love the interactions I am able to have with patients, family members, and staff in the research and evaluation work that I do. The fact that patients—even those facing really difficult challenges—will take time to help us understand and improve our practice is amazing. My passion is for making sure the wonderful advances in medicine and information about best-evidence care are available to everyone, including those who live in rural and urban areas without easy access to high-quality or specialized care.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I have a very clear memory of presenting my mom with a list of three jobs I was interested in when I was about 7 or 8 years old: police officer, hairdresser, and obstetrician. I don't know why such an eclectic list.

Outside of your job, how do you grow professionally?

It seems like every day I come across a journal article of interest. There are so many people doing great work in health care, health care delivery research, program evaluation and implementation, community engagement, and other fields that could inform my work. I try to carve out time throughout the week to read as much as I can, learn from others, and get inspired about ideas for future work. I also try to stay engaged with my professional associations: the Minnesota Evaluation Association, the American Evaluation Association, and the Mixed Methods International Research Association.

What is a "fun fact" about you?

I am a life-long resident of Minnesota and have lived in tiny towns and large cities across the state. My family has a Century Farm near Butterfield, Minnesota, that we like to spend time at in the summer. While Minnesota is my home base, though, I love to travel to new places in the U.S. and abroad.