National Clinician Scholars Program

Advancing health through scholarship and action

About the National Clinician Scholars Program

Our Program

The National Clinician Scholars Program offers unique clinical and community-based research training through intensive mentorship for clinicians as change agents driving policy-relevant research and partnerships to improve health and healthcare.

Join us in cultivating health equity, eliminating health disparities, inventing new models of care, and achieving higher quality health care at lower cost by training nurse and physician researchers who will work as leaders and collaborators embedded in communities, health care systems, government, foundations, and think tanks in the U.S. and around the world.

Program Overview

The National Clinician Scholars Program aims to offer unparalleled training for clinicians as change agents driving policy-relevant research and partnerships to improve health and healthcare. The goal of the program is to cultivate health equity, eliminate health disparities, invent new models of care, and achieve higher quality health care at lower cost by training nurse and physician researchers who work as leaders and collaborators embedded in communities, health care systems, government, foundations, and think tanks in the U.S. and around the world.

Growing out of the RWJF/VA Clinical Scholars Program, an independent consortium of community, health system, policy and academic partners have come together to offer this important two-year, site-based training program. The new NCSP retains the experience and central values of the 4 sites that have directed the highly successful RWJF/VA Clinical Scholars Program, including a commitment to teaching rigorous research design, ensuring Scholars develop a nuanced understanding of how the health system and social determinants affect health, engagement of those who can help apply research results, and emphasizing the outcomes and impact of research. Yet the new NCSP is building upon this core strength, moving in a new direction by partnering directly with institutions and agencies sponsoring individual slots, with a strong focus on commitment to partnering agencies and creating generalizable lessons for improving health of patients and communities. Additionally, the program will develop a national request for applications for new sites to join the consortium after this initial year.

At each site, consortium partners will contribute their invaluable expertise and/or resources to support the Scholars and their research, as well as the curricular and administrative core of the program. At the heart of the program, many members of our consortium fund and will work directly with each Scholar to identify and develop projects to cultivate that Scholar's unique research and leadership skills. We do so in a fundamentally innovative environment where partners play a major role in selection of Scholars, training, intensive mentorship, funding positions, and program governance.

Inter-professional training is also an important new feature of the program. Integration of physician and nurse researchers in training to advance the field of healthcare from different perspectives will shape the future of health and healthcare in ways that we have not seen before. Scholars will also benefit from inter-professional mentorship and leadership experiences. Scholars who have completed their medical degree and residency training, Doctor of Nursing Practice training, or PhD in Nursing, will share this important experience, enhance each other's career trajectories, and build a network of health professionals to lead change in the nation.

The four participating sites were formerly Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program sites. Although this new program is not affiliated with the RWJ Foundation, the goals of this Program are aligned with the Foundation's focus on Building a Culture of Health, yet provide a distinctive focus on the development of rigorous scholarship to support other aspects of building that Culture. Our multi-institutional and inter-professional leadership structure provides an opportunity to focus training on implementation science, state of the art methods for patient centered outcomes research, policy-relevant design, and evaluation of private and public health system innovations. Partnered research will also prepare Scholars with the research and leadership skills needed to design, implement, and evaluate interventions to improve the health of the population, mitigate health disparities, and ultimately achieve the value proposition of higher quality care at lower cost. Scholars will join the community partner consortium to tackle the top health problems in the region and statewide. Executing projects to solve real world problems in real time serves as the core training experience in the Program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this the same program as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars Program?

No. Although the RWJF provided generous support to the Clinical Scholars Program for about 40 years, the Foundation announced a reorganization of its Human Capital Portfolio last year, ending support for their training programs in their current form. The Foundation is in the process of creating new training opportunities, which will be substantively different from the current Clinical Scholars Program, which is based at four university sites and is enrolling its final class in July of 2015. Previously, the place-based Clinical Scholars Program prepared physicians for health services and health policy research. A separate national program prepared nurse faculty leaders. This new program will include both nurses and physicians as trainees.

How is the NCSP different from the legacy RWJF Clinical Scholars Program?

Recognizing the importance of a site-based research, the four training sites that comprised the legacy Scholars Program have partnered with their local institutions, community partners, and their local VA to build upon the strong foundation of their prior work. These partnerships have enabled the new National Clinician Scholars Program to move forward on an exciting new path. For the first time, there will be a strong commitment to interprofessional training, as post-doctoral nurses training as Scholars alongside the physicians, and nursing and medical faculty will closely integrated into all aspects of the program. Additionally, the program will build upon its commitment to engaged research, by closely integrating the interests of Scholars with partner organizations and faculty within each site.

How is the NCSP similar to the legacy RWJ Clinical Scholars Program?

Although no longer sponsored by the RWJ Foundation, the new NCSP retains many of the strengths of the legacy program. The four participating sites have a combined experience training Scholars in excess of 100 years. The sites have a strong commitment to innovation in teaching and scholarship, engaging partners in all phases of the research and educational process, and creating a culture where Scholars are inspired to work as change agents from within the system, with the goal of improving health of individuals, communities, and populations.

The Programs have outstanding curriculums in place, devoted faculty, engaged and enthusiastic community partners, and a tremendous national partner in the Veterans Administration. None of these will change. National Clinician Scholars will receive the strong mentorship and robust training in research methods, policy, leadership, and communication skills that was a hallmark of the legacy Clinical Scholars Program.

Why is this a "National" Program - how are the four sites coordinating their efforts?

  • All sites share a common legacy and vision - to train/inspire agents of change;
  • All sites will include nurses and physicians in interdisciplinary efforts;
  • Strong collaboration across sites not only through recruitment planning and a national meeting but also sharing of critical curricular components;
  • Committed network of advisors as well as alumni from former RWJF CSP;
  • Rigorous assessment/oversight of quality through internal and external evaluation.

How long is the program and when would I start?

The program is two years long, and new classes begin each July. The first class of the new program will begin in July of 2016 (graduating in June of 2018).

Who is eligible to apply?

Physicians who will have completed their clinical training and nurses who have completed their doctoral degree are eligible to apply. The clinical training for physicians and the doctoral degree for nurses should have been completed within the past 5 years prior to the application process. Surgeons are the single exception to the requirement; due to the structure of the "research years" in the middle of many surgical residencies, surgical residents who will be PGY-3 or higher are eligible to enroll in the program.

How do I apply?

All applications are submitted through a central website. You indicate on your application form which site you want to apply to, and the materials are distributed from our central office to the appropriate sites. Interviews are part of the selection process. (see Application page for further details).

How will Scholars spend their time during the program?

The specific schedule will vary both across Scholars (according to their interests) and across the Program sites. Generally, the first year is heavier on didactics, as Scholars are engaged in coursework, identifying partners for their research projects, and initiating their Scholarly work. Scholars have more time in year two to devote to research. Scholars devote approximately 10% of their time to clinical activities during each year. At no time may a Scholar devote more than 20% of their effort to clinical activities. Clinical activities may depend upon their project and interest, e.g. education, consultation, direct patient care.

Can I earn a master's degree?

Yes, you can earn a master’s degree in an affiliated program at each site. Participation varies across sites: at some sites, scholar participation in an affiliated master’s program is a mandatory component of the NCSP; at others, it is optional. Please inquire at each location for specifics in this regard.

Central Program Administration

Ivelys Figueroa

Ivelys Figueroa, EdD, is the Central Administrative Director for the National Clinician Scholars Program. Dr. Figueroa’s previous professional and academic work has focused on higher education administration and the development of more equitable educational environments. She most recently served as the director of a professional networking initiative for college access organizations at Prep for Prep, a New York-based education nonprofit. Prior to that, she conducted research on the experiences of faculty of color at the City University of New York and ran an academic and leadership development program for students of color at New York University.

Dr. Figueroa completed her bachelor’s degree in history-sociology at Columbia University; her master’s degree in student personnel and higher education administration at Teachers College, Columbia University; and her doctoral degree in higher education at Harvard University.

Phone: 215-746-3840

National Program Board (NPB)

The National Program Board (NPB) provides oversight for the NCSP and consists of the deans from each site's schools of nursing and medicine, VA representation, community representatives, prominent leaders in health and health care and RWJF Clinical Scholar Program Alumni. NPB members also provide mentorship to the Scholars and guidance over program plans such as expansion of the program to additional sites.

The National Program Board (NPB) includes:

Robert J. Alpern, MD Standing Member Ensign Professor of Medicine, Dean, Yale School of Medicine, Yale University
Troyen A. Brennan, MD, JD, MPH Rotating Member Executive Vice President and Chief Health Officer, CVS Health
Patrick H. Conway, MD, MSc Rotating Member Acting Principal Deputy Administrator, Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality, Chief Medical Officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Kenneth Covinsky, MD, MPH Rotating Member Professor of Medicine, Edmund G. Brown, Sr Distinguished Professorship in Geriatrics, UCSF School of Medicine
Mary B. Dougherty, PhD, MBA, FAAN Standing Member (Non-Voting) Director, Nursing Education, Office of Academic Affiliations, US Department of Veterans Affairs
Stuart C. Gilman, MD, MPH, FACP Standing Member (Non-Voting) Director of Advanced Fellowships, Office of Academic Affiliations, Veterans Health Administration, US Department of Veterans Affairs
Trent Haywood, MD, JD Rotating Member President, Blue Cross Blue Shield Institute, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
Patricia D. Hurn, PhD, RN Standing Member Dean and Professor, University of Michigan School of Nursing
J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD Standing Member Robert G. Dunlop Professor of Medicine, Executive Vice President, University of Pennsylvania for the Health System, Dean, Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania
Ann Kurth, PhD, CNM, MPH, FAAN Standing Member Dean and the Linda Koch Lorimer Professor of Nursing, Yale School of Nursing
Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH Rotating Member Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Rear Admiral, US Public Health Service, US Department of Health and Human Services
Kelsey C. Martin, MD, PhD Standing Member Dean, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Professor, Department of Biological Chemistry, Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Shirley M. Moore, RN, PhD, FAAN Rotating Member Edward J. and Louise Mellen Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean for Research, Director, SMART Center, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University
Marschall S. Runge, MD, PhD Standing Member Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs University of Michigan, Dean, University of Michigan Medical School, CEO, University of Michigan Health System
Linda Sarna, PhD, RN, FAAN Chair and Standing Member Dean, Professor and Lulu Wolf-Hassenplug Endowed Chair in Nursing, UCLA School of Nursing
Antonia M. Villarruel PhD, RN, FAAN Standing Member Professor and Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing