Clinical Scholars program

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Program Overview

Program highlights include:

  • leadership training;
  • mentoring;
  • protected research time;
  • local, regional and national networking;
  • health services and community-based research training; and
  • financial support for research projects and professional travel.

Total Awards

We selected 31 individuals in 2014.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible, physicians must:

  • be committed to a career in academic medicine, public health, health policy or another career congruent with the program’s purposes and priorities of developing physician leaders and skilled researchers;
  • be highly regarded by those responsible for their clinical training;
  • complete the clinical requirements of their residency training by the date of entry into the program (except for surgeons); and
  • be U.S. Citizens or permanent residents. Both MDs and DOs are eligible to apply.We embrace racial, ethnic and gender diversity and encourage applications from candidates with diverse backgrounds and clinical disciplines.

The Program

For more than four decades, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars program has fostered the development of physicians who are leading the transformation of U.S. heath and health care through positions in academic medicine, public health and other leadership roles. Clinical Scholars will learn to conduct innovative research and work with communities, organizations, practitioners and policy-makers on issues important to the health and well-being of all Americans.

The goal of the program is to integrate scholars’ clinical expertise with training in program development and research methods to help them find solutions for the challenges posed by the U.S. health care system and the health of U.S. communities. The program offers master’s degree graduate-level study and research in a university-based, post-residency training program. The Clinical Scholars program generally involves two years of study with generous protected time for research.

Scholars train at one of the following participating institutions: the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Michigan; the University of Pennsylvania; and Yale University. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) scholars also train at their affiliated VA medical centers. Although their programs vary in design and emphasis, each institution has developed a core structure that introduces scholars to the methods used in health care research, and each offers formal coursework, individual mentorship and guidance in project development.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars program selected 31 scholars for the 2015-17 cohort the final cohort for this program. See Program Future tab for more information. The Foundation will fully fund 10 of the 31 scholars. Through a partnership of more than 30 years, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will jointly support 13 scholars through VA Medical Centers affiliated with the participating universities: Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan, and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Of the remaining eight positions, the universities will provide institutional funding for six of the 31 scholars (one of these positions is university/VA funded). For the first time, two scholars—psychiatrists who will be Clinical Scholars at the UCLA training site—will receive funding support from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

We expect scholars to complete graduate-level projects in their area of interest. To date, scholars have conducted studies in diverse health-related fields, such as problems of health care delivery and financing, clinical decision-making, social determinants of health, biomedical ethics, medical history and health policy. Two newer aspects of the program include leadership training and learning about community-based participatory research. Each scholar is supervised jointly by the directors of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars program at the participating university and by faculty preceptors from the scholar’s chosen priority area. Up to 80 percent of a scholar’s time is protected for scholarly work. Twenty percent of a scholar’s time should be spent on clinical activities. With approval by the national program office, the training site program director, the national advisory committee, and fellowship director, it may be possible for the time in Clinical Scholars to be credited as research time in another fellowship. This must be discussed at the time of application.

Scholars also have the special opportunity to be mentored by one of the members of the program’s distinguished national advisory committee (NAC). The NAC is composed of national leaders from a range of disciplines. The program assigns each scholar a NAC mentor, who will discuss career development and other issues, to complement the mentors at the participating university. NAC mentors meet with the scholars in person at the program’s annual meeting and are available throughout the year as needed. Scholars from the four participating universities participate in an annual national meeting to foster networking and in-depth discussions of research and of change in health care systems.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Human Capital Portfolio seeks to build and maintain a strong and diverse leadership and workforce in health and health care, and to help develop specific fields. For almost 40 years, the Foundation-funded Clinical Scholars program has trained more than 1,100 physicians from varied disciplines, many of whom have become national and international leaders in health and health care. The VA has provided financial and in-kind research support for over 30 years for this program. Former scholars are engaged in academic medicine, government and medical practice. Many serve as leaders of health care institutions and delivery systems in a variety of public and private settings; others are contributing to the formulation, conduct and evaluation of health-related public policy; and many continue active research careers on important topics in health and health care.

For more information please go to the Grantee Results Report:

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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation