Dr. Gary Lawrence at Parham Policy Day

Image to promote presentation by Dr. Gary Lawrence

On November 15, the MSW Advanced Policy classes hosted a virtual presentation by Dr. Gary Lawrence, the Director of Nursing Services with the Choctaw Health Authority, as part of the UGA School of Social Work’s Parham Policy Day. For nearly two decades, Parham Policy Day has highlighted the impact of social policy on society, under the leadership of Dr. June Gary Hopps, the Thomas M. “Jim” Parham Professor of Family and Children Studies. Dr. Lawrence’s talk, titled “The Provision of Health Care in American Indian & Alaskan Native Populations,” was an eye-opening discussion on the history and current policies that shape health services to Native Americans.

Over 90 students and faculty members engaged with Dr. Lawrence, asking questions about advocacy, ways to shape policy, and the impact of COVID-19 on the health of the Choctaw Nation. “Social workers everywhere need to learn about policy and ways to fight health disparities” noted Dean Anna Scheyett. “Dr. Lawrence gives us great insight into historical trauma and current policies that put Native Americans at risk.”

Lawrence is a proud member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and is a national expert in health disparities in Native American populations. He has conducted and presented his research on topics including recruitment and retention strategies and health risks/disparities in Native American populations. Lawrence graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing with a Doctorate in Nursing, completing his dissertation on “The Relationship Between Historical Trauma and Cultural Buffers in Choctaw Native American Indians With and Without Diagnosed Depression and Alcohol Abuse.”

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