CHRT Policy Fellowship: Growing Health Policy & Advocacy Leaders

Matt Black, a 2018 graduate of the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation (CHRT) Policy Fellowship at the University of Michigan, returned to the program’s headquarters in Ann Arbor on April 12, this time as a teacher rather than a learner.

Before joining the MAFP team as legislative liaison in May 2018, Matt participated in the fellowship when he was legislative assistant for Michigan Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. In the year since completing the fellowship, Matt has successfully led MAFP’s advocacy work on behalf of family medicine physician, resident, and student members across the state, collaborating with the Academy’s Advocacy Committee and lobbyist Tabitha Zimny of Karoub Associates.

“Through the fellowship, I was able to gain a greater understanding of working with researchers in different fields to craft policy aimed at protecting the health of Michigan residents,” said Matt.

Returning to CHRT as an advocacy panelist provided him the opportunity to share with the current fellows how the program prepared him for his role at MAFP.

“I enjoyed sharing about the different issues that MAFP is working on to protect the patient-physician relationship and help ensure the state’s practice environment is conducive to attracting and retaining family physicians. This is especially important in light of the primary care physician shortage,” he said.

The four-month CHRT Policy Fellowship, which has graduated 82 fellows since 2012, provides state policymakers, like Matt, and University of Michigan health services researchers, like Anne Kittendorf, MD, FAAFP (Dexter), hands-on experience with policy making, health services research, and the intersection between the two.

Dr. Kittendorf—assistant professor of family medicine at University of Michigan Medical School, chair of the Family Medicine Political Action Committee, and a member of MAFP’s Advocacy Committee—is nearing the end of the 2019 fellowship program. She said that she pursued the CHRT fellowship to deepen her understanding of health policy—it's history, how it's currently impacting our health and medical practices, and how we can envision and effectively promote changes that the health system and health in our communities need.

“It's been amazing, and I've particularly enjoyed working with my colleagues who currently do policy work, understanding the challenges and barriers they face as well as sharing my own experiences. The fellowship has given me a broader understanding of how local, state, and federal government—as well as other entities such as nonprofits—operate, and how to more effectively communicate and advocate. I will utilize this experience specifically in my advocacy work, and also through my residency teaching. It has strengthened my belief that advocacy is a professional skill and we need more physicians involved in the process,” said Dr. Kittendorf.  

In addition to attending lecture-style sessions held in Ann Arbor, fellows travel to Washington, DC, to meet with policy makers and gain exposure to the national policy-making environment. They also engage in the state health policy making process during trips to Lansing and Detroit.

If you are interested in learning more about the CHRT Policy Fellowship or would like to apply for the upcoming class, visit www.chrt.org/fellowship or contact Molly Welch-Marahar at mowelch@umich.edu or 734.998.0225.