Our Mission

The Congressional Healthcare Policy Fellow Program, a collaborative effort of the School of Pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists has been preparing pharmacists for public service for more than a decade.

Program Description


The program comprises unique healthcare-policy learning experiences in the United States Congress and the government affairs offices of ACCP and ASHP. During the 14 month program Fellows contribute to the effective use of scientific, therapeutic, and pharmaceutical knowledge in pro­fessional organization and government policy decision-making. The Fellow is actively mentored while gaining experience in issue prioritization, policy analysis, legislative evaluation and policy development, researching the issues of the day, effective writing, and advocacy program development and implementation skills. The integration of these skills becomes the foundation for a future focused on practical policy development and evaluation. The Fellow’s responsibilities in a Congressional office have typically included researching and writing briefs on healthcare issues, assisting with policy analyses, and drafting memoranda, floor speeches and questions for panelists at Congressional hearings, as well as planning, organizing, and contributing to the Senator or Representative’s office policy and management issues for the year.

The program brings external perspectives to the policy process, emphasizes policy-oriented learning through participation, rather than observation, provides a year-long Congressional experience for pharmacists, and includes the “Inside Congress” orientation program conducted by the Brookings Institution in early July of each year. Following the orientation, the Fellow will:

  • Spend the remainder of July into early August with the ACCP government and professional affairs staff in Washington, D.C., and then transition to Bethesda to work with ASHP government affairs staff until the end of August. During these assignments, the Fellow will receive guidance and assistance as they seek to secure placement on a Congressional committee or with the personal office staff of a U.S. Senator or Representative.
  • Begin in late August their time on the staff of a Congressional committee or in the personal office of a U.S. Senator or Representative as a health policy fellow.
  • Participate in ASHP’s policy week activities in Mid-September and ACCP’s annual meeting during October.
  • Actively engage with VCU program director during quarterly meetings and by providing two seminars on campus during the program.
Health Policy Banner

The program is an enriching opportunity for each fellow to develop legislative evaluation and policy development skills, improve research and writing skills, and integrate practical policy experience with theory. The fellow will be expected to undertake a wide array of responsibilities including researching and preparing briefs on health care issues; assisting with policy decisions; drafting memoranda; and planning, organizing and carrying out program and management objectives. The congressional office (personal or committee) placement should ideally be with one of the committees that predominantly deal with health issues such as the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; the Senate Finance Committee; the Senate Budget Committee; the House Ways and Means Committee; or the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Application Process

Each applicant applies on his/her own initiative. No outside instrumental endorsement or screening is sought or required. Applicants should submit materials to the program director, Kristin Zimmerman at the VCU School of Pharmacy.

  1. Selection: An ad hoc selection committee composed of representatives from the VCU School of Pharmacy, ASHP and ACCP serve as the screening/selection entity. The selection process is competitive, with professional excellence and suitability for the fellow program being the primary consideration. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. On-site interviews will be conducted in Washington, D.C., in the early spring of each year.
  2. Qualifications: Candidates must be pharmacists who are U.S. citizens with at least one year of residency training or several years of professional experience, ideally providing direct patient care. Preference will be given to pharmacists with demonstrated awareness or a track record of advocacy regarding health care or social issues
  3. Benefits and Compensation: The fellow will be designated an adjunct assistant professor of the VCU School of Pharmacy and will receive a stipend of $70,000. An allowance for moving expenses of up to $1,000 and a professional education or travel allowance for use during the fellow year of $1,500 will also be provided. Health care insurance, life insurance, retirement or leave benefits are not provided with this appointment. Vacation will be available according to the congressional calendar.
  4. Conflict of Interest: The selection committee must be informed by all candidates of any possible conflict of interest at the time of application. This includes potential conflicts of interest associated with the fellow’s role while they work within the government affairs team of ACCP and ASHP as well as any conflicts that may compromise the integrity of the selection process or Virginia Commonwealth University.
  5. Fellows are designated as free agents while they serve in Congress. They are not representatives of Virginia Commonwealth University or the participating societies. In those cases where there may be a perception of conflict of interest in connection with a fellow’s placement, advice will be sought from the applicable congressional ethics committee.

For details, please see the full application guidelines .