Interview with KaSheta Johnson Jackson, DNP, RN
Interview with KaSheta Johnson Jackson, DNP, RN; Winner of the 2022 ANA Individual Innovation Award; Community Pop-Ups: A Rural Approach
KaSheta Johnson Jackson, DNP, RN
Vice President, Health Equity and Social Impact
Winner of the 2022 ANA Individual Innovation Award
Community Pop-Ups: A Rural Approach
"My first, first mentor of course would be my mother," KaSheta Johnson Jackson says empathically. "She was a single mother who has a high school diploma and pushed for her children to do more than what she did. When she got married, my step-dad, who was an engineer, also pushed for education and was a one of my first mentors."
The individual winner of the 2022 ANA innovation awards, Jackson works hand-in-hand with her community to counteract social determinants of health. She is also a mother with an eight-year-old son.
"When we think about care we're often thinking about it in a silo. We're trying to tear down those barriers and look at the full landscape," Jackson said.
Talking to children as they figure out what careers they want to pursue is just one example she cites. In Greenville, NC, where Jackson is located, minority representation in healthcare is remarkably small.
"We're partnering with our local school system on a program called, 'Scholars for Stethoscopes.' We need to increase the number of healthcare providers as a whole – but also representation matters," Jackson said. "We need to make sure children understand that it is a possibility to pursue a career in healthcare."
Jackson is thankful for the many mentors that have guided her along the path to earning her role as Vice President, Health Equity and Social Impact at Vidant Health. She was nurtured by her colleagues and classmates who were nurses, and her mentors within her professional career were influential as well.
"Stay humble. Remember to be vulnerable. When you go somewhere, don't go as an expert; go to just listen so you can learn and be able to speak to the topic," Jackson reflected. "These are the life lessons that I try to remember all the time."
Giving respect to others, keeping yourself grounded, and remaining aware of your responsibilities are some of the mantras Jackson abides.
"I would tell nurses who are beginning their innovation journeys, 'remember where you came from. I started off as a nursing assistant. When you continue to grow, find out how you can take someone with you. When you are figuring out a problem, know that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room,'" Jackson said.
Her own innovation journey led to the creation of Community Pop-Ups: A Rural Approach, an innovative health care delivery model implemented as community-based pop-up clinics across eastern North Carolina to address social and economic health care barriers.
"I am most proud that we took care of people. We screened blood pressures, checked for diabetes, and just provided access," Jackson said. "And we provided vaccinations. We did about 700+ vaccinations in unconventional places like a baseball stadium and a parking lot."
Transforming a normal setting to a provide access for all – not just those who can easily get to certain places – ranks as one of Jackson's proudest accomplishments. However, reaching vulnerable communities hinges on building trust.
"Our biggest challenges – especially considering the pandemic and the push to encourage vaccinations – is showing that our presence is sustainable. We have to go back to doing things like vegetable giveaways, and community pop ups. And we need the workforce to do it," Jackson said.
Remaining present in vulnerable communities and encouraging nurses to explore the full spectrum of career possibilities in the profession are some of the biggest challenges facing Jackson. She also encourages all nurses to think differently.
"I would have never thought that I was an innovator. I thought that I was just doing needed work," Jackson said. "I would tell any and every nurse: you are an innovator. You just need to take a complex problem and find out how you can fix it. Ask yourself, 'what innovation needs to be done?'"
Kasheta Jackson developed Community Pop-Ups: A Rural Approach, an innovative health care delivery model implemented as community-based pop-up clinics across Eastern North Carolina to address social and economic barriers to health care. This program is making health care both more accessible and approachable by directly providing preventative services, improving health care equity, and offering resources within communities with the greatest need. Through partnerships with community leaders, these clinics have evolved from solely offering health care screenings to providing COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, mental health resources, access to fresh produce, and employment opportunities.
Community Pop-Ups have been held in a variety of informal community settings including baseball fields, farms, and parks to build trust and improve community engagement. Designed and led by nurses, Community Pop-Ups follows the tenets of a holistic nursing care plan, addressing the community’s physical, mental, and environmental needs. During 2021, Community Pop-Ups provided care to more than 400 community participants, identified acute diseases, provided numerous jobs, gave away 500 produce boxes, and delivered 500 health passports in rural locations across Eastern North Carolina. In 2022, Community Pop-Ups plans to make a more substantial impact in the communities it reaches and establish a model for addressing the social determinants of health through qualitative data.