Consuelo H. Wilkins, MD, MSCI, is the Executive Director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, a strategic partnership between Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Her primary responsibilities include developing and supporting collaborative initiatives and programs in biomedical research, community engagement, and interprofessional learning. She holds appointments as Associate Professor of Medicine at both Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Meharry Medical College. As Director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Community-Engaged Research Core in the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, she brings together academic researchers and community members to improve community health and health care through community-engaged research. Dr. Wilkins is widely recognized for her work in stakeholder engagement and is Principal Investigator of a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Research Award focused on improving patient engagement and understanding its impact on research. She is also Principal Investigator of two NIH-funded centers, the Vanderbilt-Miami-Meharry Center of Excellence in Precision Medicine and Population Health and the Center for Improving Clinical Trial Education Recruitment and Enrollment at CTSA Hubs. Dr. Wilkins’ prior research has focused on understanding the complex intersection between cognitive impairment, frailty, and depression.
Prior to joining the faculty at Vanderbilt in 2012, Dr. Wilkins was an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics, with secondary appointments in Psychiatry and Surgery (Public Health Sciences) at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She served as Founding Director of the Center for Community Health and Partnerships in the Institute for Public Health, Co-Director of the Center for Community Engaged Research in the CTSA, and Director of “Our Community, Our Health” — a collaborative program with Saint Louis University to disseminate culturally relevant health information and facilitate community-academic partnerships to address health disparities. Dr. Wilkins earned a Bachelor of Science in microbiology (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and a Doctor of Medicine from Howard University. She completed residency training in internal medicine at Duke University Medical Center and a geriatric medicine fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine/Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Following her medical training, Dr. Wilkins earned a Master of Science in clinical investigation from Washington University School of Medicine.
What is the role of nurses and other health care professionals in good health care communication and community involvement?
What should clinicians do for patients for whom social isolation and loneliness is the biggest social need?
If we are going to work with local communities, we must humbly acknowledge that we don’t know everything we need to about the people they serve and be ready to gain that knowledge.
Clinicians and health care organizations need to become better listeners.