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Desmond Runyan

It has been an amazing run. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation took on the Clinical Scholars program in 1972. Now 45 years later, with over 1,300 physicians trained in clinical epidemiology, health services research, social sciences and humanities, leadership and policy, we are coming to an inflection point. The Foundation is moving towards leadership development programs. Additionally, the 4 current Clinical Scholars training sites, with the likely addition of other universities in the near future, are adapting the well-developed model of site-based coursework, mentorship and supervised research, policy electives, leadership experiences, and continued partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), that characterize the modern iteration of the Clinical Scholars program to a new generation of physician and nurse leaders as the National Clinician Scholars Program. We have been going so long that some of our alums have retired and a few have died.

What is notable is the transformation this program has made on American medicine. When the program started the foci of quality of care, health services research, geriatrics, child abuse pediatrics, and adolescent medicine were nascent or not even imagined and who would have guessed that one program like this would lead to the training of at least 7 state health directors and Secretaries of Health, multiple directors of state Medicaid programs, and a veritable brain trust of leadership at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This public health leadership record doesn’t begin to address the impact of our program on the VA, upon academic medical centers, and on the health care industry. We have alums who have led the development of innovative private practices too, but over 90% have chosen to apply their energies and skills with government agencies, universities, and foundations.

So our final meeting and gala in Philadelphia on May 31 and June 1, 2017 will be a celebration of accomplishment. I invite all of you to come join us at the Philadelphia Sofitel as we discuss what has been done and what yet needs to be done. We plan on a day and a half of panels and reflections, time for discussions, and time for alums to get together. We will host a dinner gala (black tie optional) on Wednesday night. The online registration site will go live in March and the national program office will send email invitations with the link to register. The National Program Office has reserved space on the evening of May 30 at the Sofitel to host a reception/open house so alums, former faculty, and former directors of other program sites can gather in celebration and join the current programs and members of the National Advisory Committees over the years in verifying that a remarkable program will not fade away without its contributions and importance to patients and their families, and the future of health care being noted.  So please make an effort to join us in the city of brotherly love.

Des Runyan


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