After Dr. Sun completes the program, he plans to go into a practice with a strong clinical research emphasis. He believes practicing medicine is necessary to maintain a connection with patients and stay current in medical practice and technology. But, he added, “to perform high-impact research, I’ll need time and resources, which will require long-term dedication to a shared vision between myself and the program with which I’ll work.”
Explore This IssueNovember 2011
RWJF Health Policy Fellows
Physicians interested in hands-on policy experience and leadership training might consider the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows program. Aimed at midcareer health professionals, the program features a one-year stay in Washington, D.C.
Robert H. Miller, MD, MBA, was on a traditional academic path at Tulane University when the chancellor, who had gone through the fellowship program, suggested he apply. “I wasn’t a policy wonk and didn’t really think I’d get accepted,” said Dr. Miller, executive director of the American Board of Otolaryngology and physician editor of ENT Today. But he was chosen, and the experience was life changing. “I went there as the chairman of a department, and when I came back to Tulane, I became vice chancellor of the medical center,” he said.
The fellowship begins each September with an orientation in which participants meet with executive branch officials, members of Congress and health care interest group leaders. Fellows participate in seminars on health economics, federal health programs, the congressional budget process, policy issues and the federal decision-making process. In January, they embark on full-time assignments with members of Congress or in the executive branch.
Dr. Miller served as a staff member for John Breaux, who at the time was a Democratic senator for Louisiana. He worked on four pieces of legislation, three of which became law. One measure created Medicare coverage for colorectal cancer screening. “It’s going to prevent some people from getting colorectal cancer or dying from it, and that’s a good feeling,” Dr. Miller said.
Next year the program will award up to six grants of up to $165,000. Fellows receive up to $94,000 for the D.C. stay in salary, plus fringe benefits or fellowship stipend.
The pay is lower than surgeons make, and it takes participants away from medical practice for a year, Dr. Miller said. For him and his family, however, it was worth it. His wife and children were exposed to wonderful opportunities in Washington, he said. “What I got out of it was there are so many different things in life that you can do that you really need to look beyond the straight and narrow path,” he added.
AMPAC Political Training
Physicians contemplating becoming more involved in politics or running for office can turn to two programs offered by the American Medical Association’s political action committee, AMPAC. One is the AMPAC Campaign School, which is geared toward physicians, physician spouses, residents and medical students. The annual five-day program features a simulated campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives. Attendees participate in nightly exercises on strategy, vote targeting, advertising and public speaking. The second option is an annual Candidate Workshop, designed to help physicians make the leap from the exam room to the campaign trail. At the three-day workshop, political veterans give advice about politics and the sacrifices needed to mount a competitive campaign. Participants learn how and when to make the decision to run, the importance of a disciplined campaign, how to fundraise and what kind of media advertising is right for them. AMPAC covers the cost of hotel rooms, most meals, faculty and materials for the two programs, but not transportation.