Satcher Health Leadership Institute was established on 2006 with the overarching mission of developing the next generation of health equity leaders. Aligned with this mission, the SHLI Health Policy Leadership Fellowship Program was launched in 2009 to prepare physicians and post-doctoral professionals with the necessary knowledge and skills to assume these leadership roles. In September 2016, SHLI welcomed five new fellows, our eighth cohort, to a program that now celebrates 30 program graduates. Multidisciplinary in its approach, fellowship graduates include physicians in family medicine, pediatrics, and internal medicine, as well as professionals in public health, psychology, health law, public policy, family studies, marriage and family therapy, and biomedical science. Today, fellowship alumni are assuming leadership roles across the country in government agencies, academia, health care organizations, and community-based organizations.
In 2015, a fellowship outcomes study was performed surveying graduates one to five years following program completion to assess the program’s impact on their career trajectories, leadership roles, and engagement in work related to both health policy and health equity. Based on responses from 19 of 22 graduates (86%), 84% were employed full time with 47% in academia and 32% in government agencies. 100% of alumni reported they were prepared to analyze issues and policies in health and health care, particularly as they relate to disparities and health equity. Over half reported this was very important or essential to their current positions, and more than 20% reported they had developed, implemented, or changed policies. Examples of policy impact included changing state HIV surveillance policy to include transgender individuals, modernization of state HIV laws and statutes, and standardizing administrative controls to prevent TB in homeless shelters.
Ninety-five percent of alumni reported they were prepared for leadership roles—84% reported assuming leadership roles at their current job and 47% reported leadership roles at professional and/or community-based organizations. Professional leadership roles included medical directors at an FQHC and county health department, state HIV/STD director, and project director for a health disparities research center. Alumni were also serving on national committees of professional organizations and national, state, and local boards focused on issues related to HIV/AIDS, adolescent health, health care access, transgender health, behavioral health, mass incarceration, and gun violence.
Almost eight years after the first cohort of fellows, it is exciting to see the fellowship program realize early outcomes aligned with the program goals. Satcher Health Leadership Institute will continue to follow our health policy fellowship graduates and their impact as we continue to prepare the next generation of health leaders to champion health equity.