The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows program provides the nation’s most comprehensive fellowship experience at the nexus of health, science, and policy in Washington, D.C.

The 2017-2018 Call for Applications (CFA) is now closed.  The next CFA will become available in September 2017. 

The program seeks outstanding midcareer health professionals and behavioral and social scientists with an interest in health and health policy and requires, at a minimum, a 12-month residential experience in Washington, D.C.

To learn more about the program,

2017-2018 Call for Applications [NOW CLOSED]   Register for the Webinar [NOW CLOSED]   Apply now! 


The program begins in September with an intensive three-and-a-half month orientation arranged by the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).  Fellows meet with leaders of health and health care policy think tanks and interest groups, key executive branch officials responsible for health policy and programs, and members of Congress and their staffs.  Fellows also participate in seminars on health economics, major federal health and health research programs, the congressional budget process, current priority issues in federal health policy, and the process of federal decision-making.  The concentrated orientation is designed to prepare fellows for immediate success in federal legislative and administrative positions. In November, fellows join the American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship Program to expand their knowledge and awareness about Congress and the political process.

Fellowship Assignments

Fellowship assignments typically begin in January.  During these assignments, fellows are full-time, contributing participants in the policy process with members of Congress or in the executive branch. Solely under the supervision of the office in which they are placed, Fellows typically will:

  • Help develop legislative or regulatory proposals;
  • Organize hearings, briefings, and stakeholder meetings;
  • Meet with constituents;
  • Brief legislators or senior administration officials on a range of health issues; and
  • Staff House-Senate conferences.

Fellowship assignments are supplemented throughout the year by seminars and group discussions on contemporary federal policy topics, as well as media training, and leadership development.  Fellows are asked to prepare a formal presentation on a health policy issue with which they have been engaged.  Fellows also take part in meetings of the NAM and other health policy organizations, as well as cultural and social functions. Fellows may request approval from the NPO to extend the Washington stay past the 12-month fellowship period of September to August through the legislative session, or until December 31.  A fellow may carry out additional activities with the support of any remaining funds for up to 12 months after completing the 12-month residential experience, subject to review and approval of those activities by the NPO and RWJF.

Post-Fellowship Assignments

With the knowledge and experience gained from the Washington fellowship assignment, fellows return to their respective institutions or take another position in which they further develop their health policy leadership skills.  Fellows also become part of a nationwide alumni network and typically return to Washington each year to attend the program’s annual meeting, and be briefed on issues and trends in health and health care policy.

Conflict of Interest

Due to heightened ethical scrutiny at the federal level, including fellows placed in congressional or other federal offices, the NPO will request information from finalists about ongoing personal and professional activities or interests that might conflict with the participation of a fellow in congressional or federal assignments.  This disclosure is required to identify any activity or interest that might:

  1. Significantly impair the fellow’s objectivity,
  2. Create an unfair competitive advantage for any person or organization.

Each finalist will provide a list of past, existing and future paid and unpaid activities, board affiliations, consultancies, or other interests and sources of financial support.  To preserve the integrity of the fellowship program and to ensure that the fellow—during tenure as an RWJF Health Policy Fellow—is not compromised by the appearance of a conflict of interest, fellows will sign a statement affirming that there is no conflict of interest or competing interest that would preclude the fellow from accepting a congressional or executive branch placement during the fellowship year.  The term “conflict of interest” applies not only to the personal interests of the fellow but also to the interests of others with whom the fellow has substantial common financial interests, including the fellow’s spouse and dependent children. As a condition of the fellowship, the fellow may be required by the federal government to submit a financial disclosure statement and sign a declaration of adherence to policies and laws governing codes of ethical conduct.  For more information about specific ethics determinations, please visit http://ethics.senate.gov/downloads/pdffiles/manual.pdf and http://ethics.house.gov/sites/ethics.house.gov/files/documents/2008_House_Ethics_Manual.pdf (see page 284).

Key Information

2017 Call for Applications Now Open until Nov. 15

The 2017-2018 Call for Applications for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows program is open until 3:00pm ET on November 15. Apply now!