Today, Yale University announced the launch of a new Commonwealth Fund-supported fellowship program dedicated to helping clinicians who want to improve care for vulnerable populations. In our centennial year, the start of this new fellowship reaffirms the Fund’s historical commitment to addressing inequities in the U.S. health care system, by working to ensure that people from the very communities that have long faced those inequities have the opportunity to lead.
The Commonwealth Fund will also continue to support a fellowship program based at Harvard University since 1996, which offers intensive study in health policy, public health, and management for physicians committed to transforming health care delivery systems for vulnerable populations. Together these two programs will support the education of at least eight health care leaders each year, five at Harvard and three at Yale.
The Fund has a longstanding history of supporting clinical leaders who are committed to improving policy and care for minority, disadvantaged, and vulnerable populations. This commitment can be traced back to 1947, when the foundation supported the National Medical Fellowships, which offers scholarships and awards to underrepresented minority medical students.
In the 1960s, the Fund saw that the financial future of Meharry Medical College — a private, historically black school founded in 1876 in Nashville, Tennessee — was in jeopardy. Most African Americans had no access to white physicians and relied almost exclusively on black providers. Meharry’s graduates accounted for about half the nation’s black doctors and dentists. These providers played a crucial role in improving health services for poor and underserved African American communities. To bolster the college’s efforts to continue operations, the Fund made a five-year grant. Today, Meharry remains one of the nation’s top producers of primary care physicians.
In the mid-1990s, the Fund sought to address racial and ethnic disparities in health care, and launched what is now known as the Mongan Fellowship in Minority Health Policy at Harvard University (named for the late health care leader James Mongan, M.D.). The Mongan fellowship created a path to health care leadership for physicians and other practitioners of color for years to come. Of the 128 fellows who have completed the Mongan Fellowship, 60 percent have assumed senior leadership positions in federal, state, and local government; health care delivery systems; academic medicine; foundations; or nonprofit organizations.
The new Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Minority Health Leadership at Yale University expands the Fund’s historical commitment to clinical leaders focused on vulnerable populations. The program is open to clinicians applying to the university’s MBA for Executives (EMBA) program, focusing on those who seek to understand the persistent inequities in the U.S. health care system and gain the frameworks, insights, and professional connections necessary to effectively forge solutions.
At Yale, fellows will complete the EMBA program with a focus on health care, while also receiving specialized training in leadership and mentoring from experts in health care. The objective is to give health care practitioners the leadership skills and the deep understanding of markets, organizations, and governments needed to tackle major inequities in the U.S. health care system. The first fellows will begin the 22-month EMBA program in July 2019.
Going forward, the Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Minority Health Policy at Harvard University will continue to offer intensive study in health policy, public health, and management for physicians committed to transforming health care delivery systems for vulnerable populations. Fellows complete academic work leading to a master of public health degree at the Harvard School of Public Health, or a master of public administration degree at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and participate in leadership forums and seminars with nationally recognized leaders in health care delivery systems, minority health, and public policy.
The new Yale program builds on one of the most important goals of the Commonwealth Fund for the past 100 years. It offers health care practitioners focused on vulnerable populations a seat at the table to ultimately make progress toward a system where everyone in the U.S. has access to high-quality, affordable health care.