Faculty headed to Capitol Hill to shape policy

Dr. Ellen Kurtzman
July 23, 2018

Dr. Ellen Kurtzman, an associate professor at GW Nursing, was named one of this year’s eight Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellowship recipients by the National Academy of Medicine. 

Since 1973, the fellowship program has sought exceptional midcareer health professionals and behavioral and social scientists, placing them in congressional offices to work with politicians and policymakers to shape health care policy on Capitol Hill.  

“I think this humbling experience will be interesting and change my worldview, allowing me to become a better researcher and contributor at GW,” Dr. Kurtzman said, adding that she anticipates that the next year will be life-changing. 

For the first three months, fellows are “schooled in Washington politics,” meeting with various high-profile visitors to Washington, D.C. They visit different government agencies and administration offices to learn about their work, then spend the remainder of their time working in their assigned congressional or executive office. Past fellows have gone on to work in Senate offices, health policy committees and congressional administrations. One fellow worked with former First Lady Michelle Obama on her “Let’s Move!” campaign to improve children’s health.  

“I want to really learn how legislation happens, and the best way for me to do that is through an immersive Hill experience,” Dr. Kurtzman said. Her research and scholarship have addressed the effects of federal and state policies and programs on health care quality and the role of the health care workforce in higher value care. “I always think about my research through a policy lens,” she said. “But I have not had real-world policymaking experience. I’m hoping that this fellowship will ignite dozens of new research questions, sharpen my existing questions and heighten the policy impact of my research to improve patient care and public health.”