J. Margo Brooks Carthon, PhD, RN, FAAN
Older minority patients suffer poorer outcomes when hospitalized than white patients, in part because they are sicker when they enter the hospital or more likely to have fewer economic resources. Poor outcomes may also occur due to receipt of care in hospitals with less than optimal nursing care quality.
Margo Brooks Carthon was one of the first nurse researchers to demonstrate empirical relationships between the quality of nursing care and racial inequities in outcomes. Her work shows that when nursing units in hospitals are inadequately staffed and nurses have insufficient resources, the patients who need the most care may receive the least. This increases the risk of mortality, re-admissions, and reduced patient satisfaction compared to patients who receive higher-quality care.
Moving Towards Health Equity
Based on her findings, Dr. Brooks Carthon aims to determine the nursing care needs of vulnerable older adults and recommend ways to change outcomes. For example, investing strategically in nursing in certain hospitals and care environments can result in better care and fewer deaths and readmissions.
A vision of equitable health care for all guides Dr. Brooks Carthon as she works to improve health care for patients who are marginalized because of their age, race, or economic status. Through her research and teaching at Penn Nursing, Dr. Brooks Carthon works on the problems of inequality in health care from many angles.
“The proverb, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,’ has infused my team-based research to reduce health disparities.”
- PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 2008
- MSN, University of Pittsburgh, 1998
- BS, North Carolina A&T State, 1995
Dr. Brooks Carthon is the co-course director for N101: The Nature of Nursing Practice, the introductory course for all nursing students. She includes undergraduate and graduate students as members of her research team, and enjoys mentoring students and hearing about the achievements of her former students.
Using qualitative research methods, Dr. Brooks Carthon is also obtaining direct insights about the perceptions of older minorities following a hospital discharge for use in looking for ways to improve the quality of care. As a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar, she is studying patient and nurse perspectives of hospital readmission disparities. This three-year $350,000 grant is given to junior faculty who show outstanding promise as future leaders in academic nursing.
A national leader in creating policy on diversity in nursing education, Dr. Brooks Carthon recently conducted a national survey of 164 U.S. nursing schools to discover how diversity “pipeline” programs help students from underrepresented groups enter the nursing profession. The first large scale analysis of nursing workforce diversity, the study established the relationship between diversity initiatives and improvements in enrollment and graduation for students from underrepresented backgrounds. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation highlighted her findings in a policy brief.
Dr. Brooks Carthon maintains an active clinical practice providing home-based geriatric assessments. Before that, she spent over a decade caring for patients suffering from neuropsychiatric sequale of neurologic insults. Her patients’ efforts to maintain health, and their capacity to do so under a wide range of circumstances, inspires her and impels her health equity research.
Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing
When she decided to add a doctorate to her clinical experience, Dr. Brooks Carthon chose Penn Nursing. She joined the faculty few years after earning her degree. Dr. Brooks Carthon values how Penn Nursing exposes students to world-renowned nursing scholars, historians, sociologists, and business professors. As a fellow of the Barbara Bates Center for Nursing History, she now contributes to this broad exposure.
Selected Career Highlights
- Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
- Member, CMS Quality & Efficiency Measures Technical Expert Panel
- Member, Diversity Strategic Action Group, National League of Nursing