The Philip R. Lee Health Policy Fellowship Program

The Philip R. Lee Health Policy Fellowship Program enables the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies (Institute) to train a new generation of health policy and health services research leaders from diverse backgrounds.  It acknowledges Dr. Lee whose life has been devoted to championing greater diversity in our health workforce, teaching and mentoring future health policy leaders, shaping and implementing health policies to improve health care and the health of all people, and fostering innovative health policy research through the establishment of the Institute for Health Policy Studies.

The aim of the Philip R. Lee Health Policy Fellowship Program is to prepare individuals to play leadership roles in shaping innovative federal, state, and local health policies and in conducting policy-relevant research.  There is a tremendous unmet need for a new generation of health policy leaders and health policy researchers from diverse backgrounds. These are the leaders who will promote greater equity in health care and health and who will help meet the health needs of our nation’s and state’s increasingly diverse population. These are the health policy problem-solvers and change-makers who will occupy key health policy positions in government, health care, public health, academia, professional associations, foundations, and in private sector groups.

The program provides scholarship opportunities for individuals at different points in their careers: undergraduate medical students, graduate students, residents, post-doctoral fellows, mid-career professionals, and policymakers from the U.S. and abroad. This continuum approach engages potential leaders early in their careers, as well as those in mid-career.

The Philip R. Lee Health Policy Fellowship Program builds on an increasing interest in health policy among diverse medical students and other health professional students at UCSF. UCSF has revitalized efforts to increase the diversity of faculty and students across all professional schools and graduate programs. Medical students, in particular, are expressing interest in health policy and concerns about health disparities as a health policy issue. A special component of the fellowship program provides summer stipends for medical students to enable them to explore a health policy issue early in their career. Later, the same students may pursue a fifth year of medical school to delve further into health policy and/or pursue a fellowship in health policy in conjunction with a clinical fellowship or residency.  Mid-career professionals may follow another pathway by joining the program for a summer or semester sabbatical to learn about new substantive issues, update research skills, and/or expand collegial networks. Trainee stipends vary according to educational level and type of participation. 

Support for the Fellowship Program helps trainees from diverse backgrounds develop solid skills that are fundamental for informing health policy debates and decision-making:

  • Recognize and understand the social, economic, and political dimensions of health care—knowledge that is critical for individuals who seek to address policy problems in today’s highly complex and specialized health care field.
  • Communicate effectively to diverse stakeholders in the “languages” of health policy; trainees will learn how to draw on different disciplines, tools, and colleagues when translating their work into policy and practice.
  • Develop innovative approaches to complex health policy problems—not just academically credible research, but findings sufficiently solid and vetted that a policymaker can rely on them in making important decisions.
  • Acquire skills in a variety of clinical and community settings with the emphasis on learning-by-doing through one-on-one project and career mentoring.

The specific course of study is tailored to the individual’s needs and career trajectory, while the Program provides an integrated curriculum of coursework, mentoring, and supervised research that emphasizes learning-by-doing in a multidisciplinary environment.

The Philip R. Lee Health Policy Fellowship Program draws on the Institute’s long history of successful multidisciplinary training programs. Supported initially in 1983 by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Institute’s training programs have been funded by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (now the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. These organizations have supported more than 450 former trainees (approximately 25% from minority populations), including many leaders at UCSF and in the nation, to learn about critical issues in health policy as well as health services research, policy research, and policy analysis methods. Working as researchers, foundation officers, or in health policy and health care leadership positions, our alumni have been instrumental in shaping health policies and practices. They help to improve access to care for the medically underserved, increase the level of funding for maternal, child, and adolescent health programs, and increase public policy focus on disparities and health needs of diverse populations. With your support, there will be an increased pool of new leaders to respond to emerging challenges.

Building on this base, the Philip R. Lee Health Policy Fellowship Program is a broader and more multi-level training endeavor based on Dr. Lee’s ideals.  An extraordinary leader, teacher, and mentor, Dr. Lee has successfully “seeded the field” with innovative problem-solvers and change-makers. He used a simple but elegant and effective formula: recruit smart people from diverse backgrounds, put them together to learn the needed tools and skills, generate ideas about important issues, and then place them in positions where they can do something about these issues. The Philip R. Lee Health Policy Fellowship Program endeavors to assure that future health policy and health services leaders will be able to follow Dr. Lee’s example and fulfill his vision.