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Penn, UCLA, Michigan and Yale Reps Hold First Meeting in Philadelphia

consortium group
Photo: Hoag Levins/LDI

Fourteen of the twenty leaders planning a new consortium that will continue the traditional Clinical Scholars program assembled for a photo during their Philadelphia meeting at the University of Pennsylvania. Click for larger image with full ID caption.

One year after the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced a plan to close its Clinical Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania, University of California, Los Angeles, Michigan and Yale, those schools have formed their own consortium to continue what they called "a critically needed training program."

Leaders from the four currently funded universities, national program office, and national advisory committee, as well as the Veterans Health Administration, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Institute (PCORI) and Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) and RWJF gathered at Penn's Houston Hall last week to hammer out the logistical details of the new organization which is expected to begin recruiting new clinical scholar candidates almost immediately to enter in July, 2016.

RWJF reorganization
Last February, RWJF announced it was reorganizing all ten of its "Human Capital" programs and would end the Clinical Scholars residential programs at the four universities.

The country's largest health care-oriented philanthropic organization, RWJF annually distributes nearly $400 million in support of a broad array of activities across the country.

RWJF funded the Clinical Scholars Program for four decades at 10 different leading research universities over its history, through a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The long duration of funding combined with rigorous training in health services, health policy, community-partnered methods and implementation and dissemination science created something new and valuable. Over 1,200 Clinical Scholars have been produced, with largely unprecedented national impact as measured by their later positions and accomplishments.

Search for new funding
In the months immediately following the February, 2014 closing announcement, directors at the four universities began discussing the possibility of finding new funding to continue the signature program, according to participants in the Penn meeting.

Those discussions led to the formation of a consortium that held its first meeting focused on logistical planning last week. The group's goal is to begin recruiting new scholar candidates this Spring for a cohort that would start July 2016.

While the Consortium intends to maintain many curricular and design elements of the current Clinical Scholars Program, the consortium also plans some new directions, according to the organizers. One central change is to include nursing at all levels of the program, including leadership, faculty, and Scholars. Underscoring this transformation, last week's meeting included the nursing school deans from Penn, UCLA, and Michigan.

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Hoag Levins is a journalist and editor of digital publications at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.

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