• Candidates Sought for AAFP 2021-22 Health Equity Fellowship

    Application Deadline Is Oct. 15

    September 9, 2021, 10:49 a.m. Michael Devitt — The AAFP, in conjunction with the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, is seeking family physicians to apply for the 2021-22 Health Equity Fellowship, which is now in its fourth year. To accommodate for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the AAFP’s Center for Diversity and Health Equity has moved the application deadline to Oct. 15 to give interested FPs ample time to apply.

    physician with apply now sign

    Whereas in previous years members could apply to one of three fellowship tracks for consideration, the application process has now been modified and expanded. Beginning this year, individuals can select from several topics that align with a proposed capstone project, or they may submit their own topic.

    “In the three years since the program was launched, we’ve been able to cultivate a diverse cadre of family physicians who are now considered subject matter experts in the field,” said Danielle Jones, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the Center for Diversity and Health Equity. “They are called upon by us and their organizations to develop and implement innovations that have benefited other members and led to achieving more equitable outcomes in the communities they practice. By broadening our list of topics, we’re hoping to also find those members who are interested in areas such as women’s health, health information technology and global health, in addition to rural, social determinants and bias/racism.”

    Activities and Responsibilities

    Individuals selected as Health Equity Fellows must commit to participate for the entire 2022 calendar year. With approval from their institution, practice or department chair, they are expected to dedicate roughly 10% of their time (about 15 to 20 hours per month) to the fellowship.

    Fellows will participate in quarterly learning modules and meet periodically with each other, their mentors and AAFP staff via conference calls, webinars and in-person meetings.

    Story Highlights

    In addition, fellows must commit to attend the following meetings in 2022 as assigned:

    • orientation (all research topics) — January, Kansas City, Mo., exact date TBD;
    • Rural Health Policy Institute (rural research topics only) — Feb. 8-10, Washington, D.C.;
    • Residency Leadership Summit (program directors and assistant program directors only) — March 25-27, Kansas City, Mo.;
    • National Conference of Constituency Leaders (all research topics) — April 28-30, Kansas City, Mo.; and
    • Family Medicine Advocacy Summit, State Chapter Advocacy Day or AAFP State Legislative Conference (all research topics) — FMAS to be held May 23-25, Washington, D.C.; exact dates and locations for other meetings TBD.

    The AAFP will reimburse travel and lodging expenses up to $1,500 for each meeting, not to exceed four trips; no per diem or family travel expenses will be paid. It should also be noted that the dates, locations and formats for the meetings are subject to change.


    To be eligible for the Health Equity Fellowship, applicants must be

    • AAFP active members, especially those from population groups underrepresented in medicine and/or those practicing in rural communities;
    • in practice or in a graduate medical education leadership position (program directors or associate program directors are eligible); and
    • out of residency and fellowship.

    Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae and letter of interest. The letter of interest should be fewer than 500 words and must include

    • an explanation of why the applicant wants to be a Health Equity Fellow, including a discussion of the applicant’s major strengths and qualifications;
    • an explanation of how the fellowship experience will impact the applicant’s career goals and direction;
    • information on how the applicant will contribute to the development of health equity at the local, regional or national level (in conjunction with their employer, if appropriate);
    • information on the applicant’s experience and/or contributions in the field of health equity, either through professional work or community or volunteer service, and how those efforts will contribute to the fellowship experience; and
    • plans for continued development of health equity leadership skills after completing the fellowship.

    Applicants must also indicate whether they are a program director or assistant program director; complete the AAFP’s conflict of interest form (select Option 2); and submit a letter of recommendation from someone familiar with the applicant’s knowledge, skills and ability to contribute to health equity.

    Capstone Project

    Applicants will be required to submit a proposal that briefly describes a health equity project they would like to complete during the fellowship term. The project, which should focus on a health equity topic that is relevant to the applicant’s work and/or the work of the applicant’s institution, practice or department, is a key component of the fellowship and is designed to illustrate a fellow’s achievement of the program’s learning objectives.

    Each applicant’s proposal is limited to two pages and should include a title as well as:

    • Goal and key objectives: Applicants should provide an overview of their topic, explain why it is important and include details about the project location (e.g., their work site). Points to consider include the applicant’s goal, specific project objectives and importance.
    • Measure(s) of success: What clearly defined, measurable tasks do applicants plan to accomplish, how will they be measured and how will success be defined?
    • Significance to family medicine: Why is the project important to the specialty? How will results benefit health care in general and family medicine in particular?

    Finally, fellows will be expected to contribute to the development of content and products the AAFP creates to support ongoing education, skill-building and awareness among Academy members, including items such as toolkits, issue briefs, trainings and presentations.

    Throughout the experience, fellows will have the full support of and access to AAFP resources needed to complete the capstone project, and will receive coaching from assigned mentors and AAFP staff on a regular basis.

    Past Fellow Offers Reflections

    Brittney Anderson, M.D., a 2020-21 AAFP Health Equity Fellow who practices family medicine in rural Alabama and is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine in the College of Community Health Sciences at The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, recounted some of her experiences with the application process in email to AAFP News.

    “The application process went very smoothly!” said Anderson. “AAFP staff were very helpful with any questions that I had throughout the process, and I was fortunate to have colleagues who I could bounce off ideas about my capstone project and could ask for a letter of support.”

    As a clinical physician who has a faculty appointment, Anderson was responsible not only for seeing patients but also spending part of her time teaching students and residents. The COVID-19 pandemic only added to Anderson’s already busy schedule and made her commitment to the fellowship that much more challenging.

    “Maintaining these responsibilities while also facing new obstacles from the COVID-19 pandemic did prove to be a balancing act at times — but it has definitely been manageable!” Anderson said. “I’m so thankful that the leadership and staff of the fellowship understand this and have worked with us all to ensure that we are able to be active participants of the fellowship while maintaining our work responsibilities.”

    Anderson said she was honored to be part of “a group of amazing family physicians” that comprised the 2020-21 cohort, which included Shoba Belegundu, M.D., of Westerville, Ohio; Christen Johnson, M.D., M.P.H., of Columbus, Ohio; Alex Harsha Bangura, M.D., of Staples, Minn.; and Melanie VanDemark, M.D., A.B.O.M., of Deland, Fla.

    “We have bounced ideas off of each other about projects and thoughts on how to achieve health equity and the role that we as family physicians play in this goal,” Anderson said. “I continue to be amazed at the great things family physicians across this country are doing to promote health equity.”

    Anderson also gave some friendly advice to family physicians who are undecided about submitting an application.

    “You should absolutely apply! Participating in this fellowship has given me so many ‘a-ha’ moments and feelings of joy and affirmation to be in the company of like-minded physicians who are working toward the same goal of health equity as I am,” said Anderson. “My advice to anyone interested in applying is to first ensure that your institution will give you the time needed to commit to the fellowship and, if so, go for it! I’m sure you’ll have a great experience as a Health Equity Fellow.”

    How to Apply

    Applicants can submit their materials via a secure link on the Health Equity Fellowship webpage. Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. CT on Oct. 15.

    A committee will review the applications and select fellows for the coming term. Those fellows will be notified by Nov. 15, as will all unsuccessful applicants.

    Members who have questions about the application process or who would like to know more about the fellowship are encouraged to contact Danielle Jones, Ph.D., M.P.H., via email.