National Clinician Scholars Program

About Us



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.

Program Overview

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 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 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. 

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. 

NCSP-VA Partnership

The Department of Veterans Affairs is a strong community partner for the NCSP program and supports a number of VA NCSP fellows each year. The VA NCSP fellows have a commitment to research addressing health and policy issues relevant to Veterans and reflecting priority areas in the Department of Veterans Affairs. VA NCSP Scholars have opportunities for conducting clinical work, research, and applying for policy internships within the Department of Veterans Affairs as part of their fellowship.


The collaboration between the NCSP and the Department of Veterans Affairs builds upon a strong foundation: In 1978, the Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA,) in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, established the VA Advanced Fellowships Program for Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) Clinical Scholars at selected VA medical centers. The program was designed to introduce new skills and training in the non-biological sciences and in health care research to young physicians committed to clinical medicine. The partnership between the VA and the NCSP will allow the next generation of physician and nursing leaders and change agents to understand and improve the health of veterans, and of the nation.

VA Advanced Fellowships Program for NCSP Clinician Scholars

The fellowship provides two years of post-residency research, education, and clinical learning opportunities to eligible physicians and nurses. Participants are expected to complete a graduate level research project using a broad array of disciplines. These may include epidemiology, biostatistics, medical information sciences, economics, the social sciences, anthropology, history of medicine, law, and ethics. The program emphasizes the importance of community health, consistent with VA's goals to optimize the health of the veteran, the VA community, and to contribute to the health of the Nation. VA NCSP Clinician Scholars participate in activities at their designated VA Medical Center as well as participate fully in the overall NCSP program at the affiliated institution. Experienced mentors of national stature provide guidance to fellows in rich learning environments.

VA Advanced Fellowships Office

Stuart Gilman, MD, MPH, Director, Advanced Fellowships and Professional DevelopmentNCSP National Program Board (NPB) Member and VA Liaison

Jeff Cully, PhD, Assistant Director, Advanced Fellowships and Professional Development

Deborah Ludke, MHA, Administrative Officer, Advanced Fellowships and Professional Development

Kimberly Uhl, MBA, Management Analyst, Advanced Fellowships and Professional Development

University Faculty VA Liaisons

The National Clinician Scholars Program has a VA faculty representative at each of the four participating universities where Scholars are trained.

Penn NCSP VA Liaison: Marilyn Schapira, MD, MPH, Associate Director, Penn NCSP; Professor of Medicine at the Veteran's Administration Medical Center; Co-Leader, Cancer Control Research Program, Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania

National Program Board (NPB)

Oversight will be provided by a National Program Board (NPB) that consists of the deans from each site’s schools of nursing and medicine, VA representation, community representatives, prominent health care leaders, and other parties whose participation will help advance program goals.  The NPB will manage and control the business and affairs of the NCSP, including overseeing the application process and approval of new NCSP sites, supervising the quality of existing NCSP sites and determining common program elements.

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