Student Health Policy Fellowship

For more than five years, PAEA has welcomed PA students from across the country to apply for our Student Health Policy Fellowship (SHPF). In recognition of the critical role of PA representation in health policy debates at the local, state, and national levels, this fellowship opportunity provides students with the skills necessary to serve as effective leaders on behalf of PA education and the PA profession.

The application cycle for the 2021-22 Student Health Policy Fellowship is now closed.


The SHPF is designed to enhance students’ understanding of the political process and health policy. The ultimate goal is to inspire and prepare fellows for lifelong grassroots advocacy, both in Washington and at home, that promotes the PA profession as an integral part of the health care system.
This program starts with a three-day intensive workshop, which will be conducted virtually for the 2021-22 cohort. During this workshop, fellows will learn about advocacy and policymaking processes, interact with fellow leaders, and meet with their representatives and staff on Capitol Hill. By the end of the fellowship, participants will have developed skills in three key areas.


Fellows will learn how the legislative process works at the federal level and how to become effective advocates for PA education and the PA profession.


Fellows will build and refine the skills necessary to organize and lead others in both advancing health policy priorities and serving as an advocate for the PA profession at the local, state, and national levels.

PAs and the Health Care Environment

Fellows will develop an appreciation for grassroots advocacy in advancing the goals of PA education and practice in communities.

Student Health Policy fellows at work at the PAEA offices.


In addition to the three-day workshop, the fellowship requires that each participant complete an advocacy project under the guidance of a program faculty mentor and agree to participate in periodic follow-up surveys from PAEA. Advocacy projects should be creative and demonstrate a positive impact on the PA profession, local or state community, or PA programs. Examples of past projects include:

  • Organizing a lobby day at the state capitol
  • Hosting a member of Congress at your PA program
  • Student advocacy presentations at PA state association meetings
  • PA awareness campaigns with community health centers

Students who are accepted will receive guidelines on the development of a project proposal during the fellowship workshop.


“It was an amazing experience to actually conduct meetings on the hill and contribute in that way. It may seem intimidating at first, but when you are truly passionate about something, it is surprising how easy it is to talk about those topics. Everyone at PAEA helped us to feel prepared and confident so that we could make the most of the experience.”

— Marissa Weeks , 2018–2019 Student Health Policy Fellow

“I hope to encourage my classmates and future…PA students to explore this fellowship as a supplement to their education, and I hope to motivate PAs and students…to support their patients through leadership and advocacy.”

— Bridget Gallagher , 2018–2019 Student Health Policy Fellow

Q&A with Fellows

1. How do you envision health policy fitting into your career?

Health policy is not something I was ever interested in prior to PA school. Now, I can’t envision my career without it. I imagine that my career will be a mix of clinical practice and working to continue to advance our profession on both the state and federal level. Ideally, I would continue to be involved with AAPA and PAEA and would take on leadership roles wherein health policy is a major focus.

2. Could you tell us a little about how you feel the SHPF has impacted your leadership in the PA profession?

For me, the SHPF really kicked off my leadership in the PA profession. I had a position as a class officer, but this kicked it off in a big way. Without the SHPF, I would not have attended AAPA’s Leadership and Advocacy Summit, I would not have gotten involved in the Student Academy, and I would not have the drive to keep finding ways to get involved.

3. What is one aspect of PA school that surprised you?

The relationships that I built with my classmates and professors. I knew that it was going to be hard and that I would find friends in my class; however, there’s no friendship quite like a PA school friendship. You will go through some incredibly tough times, some great times, and everything in between together. The support is unreal because they know exactly what you’re going through, and they make it better.

4. What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenge for the PA workforce in the next five years?

In the next five years, I think the biggest challenge for the PA workforce will be getting all of the states in line with OTP (optimal team practice). As I’m in a state with very few of the key pillars for practice, I know just how hard it is to get people on board with collaborative agreements, rather than having a supervising physician. I think it is going to take a lot of work to get those states to become aligned with the rest of the country, but I think it can happen.

5. What new skills did the SHPF teach you that you have used during your PA education and in your career?

The SHPF taught me about how to make an impact with what I’m saying and how I say it. It taught me some effective ways to be a leader, including how to get people to listen to me, and also how to ask for what I want while being concise but impactful.

6. Do you have any advice for PA students interested in the SHPF?

I would tell them not to be afraid to apply. If they are interested, they have the passion, and that’s what’s needed to advance the profession. I would also tell them not to be afraid of going to the Hill and meeting with their representatives. It can be intimidating; however, they are there to listen to you and want to hear how they can better help their constituents.

7. What was one memorable moment from the three-day workshop in DC?

One memorable moment for me was one of the dinners we had. A majority of the students there with me all went to dinner together. We got to know each other and shared our thoughts about school and passions. I had some amazing people there with me that I am still friends with, and that’s where it all started. It was great to laugh and joke and be around like-minded people.

8. Lastly, everyone has a superpower they wish they had. What is yours and why?

My superpower would be invisibility probably because of my love of Harry Potter and the jealousy I had that he had an invisibility cloak and I didn’t.


Application Process

To apply for the Student Health Policy Fellowship, you must submit:

1. A resume/CV.

2. A personal statement describing your past experience in health policy, advocacy/leadership, and why you would like to pursue this opportunity (less than 500 words).

3. A policy analysis analyzing one section of either the Physician Assistant Higher Education Modernization Act (HR 2274) or the Perinatal Workforce Act (HR 945) and reflecting on its potential impact on PA education (less than 500 words):

  • H.R. 2274, Section 2: Reinstatement of Authority to Make Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans to Physician Assistants and Other Graduate Health Professions Students
  • H.R. 2274, Section 4: Grant Eligibility for Physician Assistant Programs at Historically Black Colleges and University and Predominantly Black Institutions
  • H.R. 945, Section 2: Grants to Grow and Diversify the Perinatal Workforce

3. Program Director Certification/Faculty Mentor Assignment Form: This document is completed by your program director and confirms your ability to participate in the fellowship.

Please note that your application is not complete until your Program Director Certification/Faculty Mentor Assignment is received! 

Applicants will be evaluated on the following:

  • Personal Statement
    • Quality of past experience in health policy, leadership, or advocacy
    • Clear articulation of why you would like to be selected for the fellowship
    • Demonstration of interest in using learned skills to be an advocate leader
    • Connection to the fellowship’s objectives of promoting advocacy, leadership, and PAs in the health care environment
    • Writing quality
  • Policy Analysis
    • Demonstration of your understanding of the analyzed provision
    • Creativity
    • Writing quality

All PA students in an accredited PAEA member program are eligible and encouraged to apply, including incoming, first-year, and second-year students. Incoming PA students are eligible to apply if they will be enrolled as of September 1, 2021. Second-year students are eligible to apply if their graduation date is no earlier than August 1, 2021.

The program director must sign the certification form, attest that the student is in good academic and professional standing, and agree that the student will be released from classes from September 13-15, 2021. In addition, the program director must assign a faculty mentor in advance to assist the fellow with the advocacy project.

Women, minorities, and people with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.

The current application cycle will be open from May 3-July 12, 2021. Applicants will receive their decision notifications by August 2, and the workshop will take place from September 13-15.


Feel free to contact us with any questions about this fellowship.