The PAEA Student Health Policy Fellowship is a select opportunity for a small group of PA students from across the country who are looking to make a significant impact on the health care system, the profession, and PA education for future generations. Through a competitive application process, up to 20 PA students are chosen to participate in this special program designed to develop leadership and advocacy skills and create long-lasting relationships among fellowship alumni who form PAEA’s expanding network of health policy champions.
Are you someone who believes that the interests of PA education must be represented at the local, state, and national level? Are you ready to equip PA programs, faculty, and students to best meet the needs of patients through federal policy? Begin your journey to the front lines of advocacy, and apply for the 2023-2024 PAEA Student Health Policy Fellowship program.
The SHPF is designed to enhance students’ understanding of the political process and health policy. The ultimate goal is to inspire and prepare fellows for lifelong grassroots advocacy, both in Washington and at home, that promotes the PA profession as an integral part of the health care system.
This program starts with a three-day intensive workshop, which will be conducted virtually for the 2023-24 cohort. During this workshop, fellows will learn about advocacy and policymaking processes, interact with fellow leaders, and meet with their representatives and staff on Capitol Hill. By the end of the fellowship, participants will have developed skills in three key areas.
Fellows will learn how the legislative process works at the federal level and how to become effective advocates for PA education and the PA profession.
Fellows will build and refine the skills necessary to organize and lead others in both advancing health policy priorities and serving as an advocate for the PA profession at the local, state, and national levels.
PAs and the Health Care Environment
Fellows will develop an appreciation for grassroots advocacy in advancing the goals of PA education and practice in communities.
In addition to the three-day workshop, the fellowship requires that each participant complete an advocacy project under the guidance of a program faculty mentor and agree to participate in periodic follow-up surveys from PAEA. Advocacy projects should be creative and demonstrate a positive impact on the PA profession, local or state community, or PA programs. Examples of past projects include:
- Organizing a lobby day at the state capitol
- Hosting a member of Congress at your PA program
- Student advocacy presentations at PA state association meetings
- PA awareness campaigns with community health centers
Students who are accepted will receive guidelines on the development of a project proposal during the fellowship workshop.
“Participating in the PAEA Health Policy Fellowship was a wonderful experience. I have always been eager to learn ways to further the PA profession, better community health, and strengthen partnerships with other healthcare professions. When I first heard of this opportunity, I was delighted to learn how involved students were in advocating for policy change. While the workshop was only 3 days, I left with much greater confidence and an abundance of resources that aided in forming constructive conversations with representatives. I am grateful for the skills and lasting connections I formed during this fellowship and look forward to continuing my advocacy as a practicing PA!”
“The best part of this fellowship was networking with folks who were equally interested in engaging with health policy. It was a breath of fresh air to find like-minded people to bounce ideas off of and I continue to foster these relationships after the fellowship.”
“The SHPF is an amazing opportunity to learn about current health policies affecting PA practice and gives us as students tools to be active advocates for the profession. Even with previous advocacy experience I felt that this fellowship was an extremely valuable addition. The virtual experience, due to COVID, was immersive and we were taught a valuable skillset and given the opportunity to connect with our local political leaders on current PA practice matters. This fellowship also afforded us the opportunity to make lasting connections with other students and future colleagues. I hope to continue to foster these relationships throughout my PA career and advocacy ventures.”
“I have always been filled with advocate energy, but unsure how to channel it into something productive. The SHPF introduced me to new ways to be an advocate and gave me confidence to follow through with plans to advocate for my profession, my patients, and my community. Through their guidance, I created a new Advocacy Committee within my PA program, and now visit high schools to teach them about the PA profession. It has been so rewarding and I can’t thank PAEA enough for the knowledge and opportunity they have provided me through this fellowship.”
“The PAEA SHPF gave me the opportunity to exercise many sides of myself — future PA, advocate, leader, and creator — for the betterment of our shared community. It reminded me that I have the power to effect real change, which was both a fun and empowering experience. I’d recommend this fellowship to anyone interested in taking their medical education to the next level.”
PA Faculty Discuss SHPF and What's Next for Advocacy
PA faculty members who have had students participate in PAEA’s Student Health Policy Fellowship share their thoughts on the importance of leadership, advocacy, and encouraging students to apply.
Q&A with Past Fellow
1. Why did you apply for the Student Health Policy Fellowship?
I applied to the Student Health Policy Fellowship because I wanted to learn how to become an advocate for medically underserved populations. I always had an interested in public health and I learned that change occur at the local, state, and national levels. I believed that this Fellowship would provide me with the skills needed to learn how to advocate for my future patients and the PA profession.
2. What was the most memorable aspect of the advocacy workshop?
I really enjoyed working with the other Fellows. I learned so much from them and the different policies, organization, etc. that they were involved in. Networking with them inspired me to become more involved after the Student Health Policy Fellowship.
3. What skills have you gained through the Student Health Policy Fellowship that will benefit you in your career as a PA?
During this Fellowship, I learned how to communicate with my local congressman’s and senator’s offices. I feel comfortable speaking to a staffer and asking for support on legislation. This is a skill that will benefit me in my career as a PA because I will be able to advocate for the PA profession and my future patients by asking for support on specific bills that will support and advance our profession.
4. What challenges do you anticipate PAs will face in the next five years and how can these challenges be mitigated by advocacy and PA leadership development?
In the next 5 years, I anticipate more legislation allowing for PAs to practice in an optimal team-based model instead of the traditional model. Challenges that I anticipate from this, is continued push back, as there are a lot of people and patients that are not aware of our profession and our scope of practice. I believe this can be mitigated by continuing to advocate for PAs to be included in legislation and continuing to educate patients and others about the PA profession.
5. What advice would you offer to PA students who are interested in applying for the Student Health Policy Fellowship?
If you have any interest in this Fellowship, apply! This experience was a very valuable experience to me. The skills that I learned during this Fellowship will be beneficial to me, as I continue to learn about advocacy and what that looks like for me as a PA. In addition, I really enjoyed creating and facilitating a project (which is what initially almost prevented me from applying to the fellowship). My project was a virtual panel that discussed what advocacy in medically underserved populations look like in different sectors of medicine.
Where Are They Now?
Wondering where the fellowship will lead you on your path to leadership and advocacy? Hear from former fellows about their experiences and how they are continuing to shape the future of health policy.
Brendan Lucas, 2018-2019 PAEA Student Health Policy Fellow
Brendan K. Lucas, MPAS, PA-C participated in PAEA’s Student Health Policy Fellowship in 2018. Brendan is a graduate of the University of the Pacific PA program and currently practices in emergency medicine and urgent care. Since the fellowship, Brendan has remained active in local, state, and federal PA organizations and is a member of AAPA’s Commission on Government Relations & Practice Advancement.
Morgan Dailey, 2019-2020 PAEA Student Health Policy Fellow
Morgan Dailey, PA-S participated in PAEA’s Student Health Policy Fellowship in 2019. Morgan earned a Master of Physician Assistant Practice degree as well as a Master of Public Health Degree from Campbell University and currently practices in pediatrics. Since the fellowship, Morgan continues to promote positive and meaningful change for all children through advocacy, policy, and quality improvement projects and serves on the NCAPA Government Affairs Committee.
To apply for the Student Health Policy Fellowship, you must submit:
1. A personal statement describing what inspired you to pursue this opportunity and how you would like to influence PA education and the profession through advocacy and leadership in the future (less than 500 words).
2. A policy analysis analyzing one section of either the Restoring America’s Health Care Workforce and Readiness Act or the Lowering Obstacles for Achievement Now Act and reflecting on its potential impact on PA education (less than 500 words):
- Restoring America’s Health Care Workforce and Readiness Act, Section 2: Additional Funding for the National Health Service Corps
- Lowering Obstacles to Achievement Now Act, Section 201: Subsidized Loans for Graduate and Professional Students
3. Program Director Certification/Faculty Mentor Assignment Form: This document is completed by your program director and confirms your ability to participate in the fellowship.
Please note that your application is not complete until your Program Director Certification/Faculty Mentor Assignment is received!
Applicants will be evaluated on the following:
- Personal Statement
- Clear articulation of why you would like to be selected for the fellowship
- Demonstration of interest in using learned skills to be an advocate leader
- Connection to the fellowship’s objectives of promoting advocacy, leadership, and PAs in the health care environment
- Writing quality
- Policy Analysis
- Demonstration of your understanding of the analyzed provision
- Writing quality
All PA students in an accredited PAEA member program are eligible and encouraged to apply, including incoming, first-year, and second-year students. Incoming PA students are eligible to apply if they will be enrolled as of September 1, 2023. Second-year students are eligible to apply if their graduation date is after August 1, 2023.
The program director must sign the certification form, attest that the student is in good academic and professional standing, and agree that the student will be released from classes from September 11-13, 2023. In addition, the program director must assign a faculty mentor in advance to assist the fellow with the advocacy project.
Women, minorities, and people with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.
The current application cycle will be open from May 1-July 10, 2023. Applicants will receive their decision notifications by August 1, and the workshop will take place from September 11-13.