SGIM’s Leadership in Health Policy (LEAHP) Program is now seeking applications to join the sixth cohort of members who wish to expand their impact through health policy and advocacy. The year-long, career development program began in 2017 and has now trained 83 scholars (including the current cohort). Its goals are for LEAHP Scholars to become more effective and active health policy advocates and local health policy experts, leaders, and teachers; and then to develop an expanding, national cadre of SGIM members who can deepen the Society’s engagement in health policy and advocacy.

At the program’s core is excellent mentorship, experienced and passionate teachers, interaction and collaboration with fellow scholars, a growing network of alumni, and mentored experience in health policy advocacy. One of the unique and most appealing aspects of the program is that it is feasible to fit the LEAHP program into a busy career while receiving mentorship and experiential training. In between half-day workshops at two successive annual meetings, the program is otherwise virtual, with core elements including the following:

  • Monthly webinars led by LEAHP faculty with a mix of curriculum presentations, case discussions, and health policy journal clubs (studying perspectives on issues from across the political spectrum);
  • Completion of at least two Capstone projects during the year (e.g., Forum or journal articles, white papers, curriculum development, SGIM workshop, advocacy project, etc.) in collaboration with their mentor and other LEAHP scholars.
  • Monthly meetings with an assigned mentor to guide their individual development plan, learning, networking, and Capstone projects, and to discuss career crafting;
  • Active participation in a health policy subcommittee (education, research, or clinical practice); with monthly calls and contributing to SGIM advocacy activities;
  • Readings, including a core set of books, key papers, online sources on policy basics, and daily e-news feeds on health policy;
  • Direct federal advocacy and/or local advocacy experience; and
  • Virtual happy hours over the year to build community and connections among the cohort and the mentors.

As former scholars and founders of the program, we have long believed in its effectiveness and appreciated the enthusiastic recommendations of former scholars. We are now excited to share the formal results of an evaluation of the of first three program cohorts, recently published in JGIM.1 The evaluation used electronic surveys conducted before and immediately following the program. Scholars rated on a 5-point Likert scale (strongly disagreed through strongly agreed) their self-efficacy on 38 learning objectives. We found significant and meaningful improvement after the program in mean self-efficacy scores overall and for each of the six domains of general health policy knowledge, teaching, research, and advocacy in health policy. Most respondents (61.4%) increased their mean score by at least 1 point.

The most compelling results emerged from analyses of open-ended responses to assess the perceived impact of the program on scholars’ learning and career, and the most helpful aspects of the program. Scholars noted that strengthening their role as a physician advocate and improving understanding of the health policy process and payment and reimbursement were some of the most enduring lessons of the program:

“I have learned, quite tangibly, the power of using my voice (and pen) to advocate for (or against) policy issues that have a significant impact on the lives of my patients and community.”

“Much clearer understanding of the process by which a bill is created and becomes a law. I also now understand where in that process advocacy is possible and helpful.”

While didactics such as lectures and journal clubs were helpful to scholars, the most cited meaningful aspects of the program were mentorship and collaboration with colleagues:

“The direct mentoring was incredibly valuable in pushing me to think bigger about what I could achieve.”

“The opportunity to work across institutions on a policy curriculum has been career-changing for me. Whereas many academic groups tend to become territorial about collaboration, the LEAHP cohort was united by a common (and very passionate) desire to develop future leaders in General Internal Medicine through a standardized curriculum. In addition to the excitement of taking on this big dream so many of us already seemed to share, I made lifelong friends and colleagues across the country, with whom I will now (hopefully!) take on future tasks.”

Future analyses will assess longer-term outcomes including the durability of improvements in self-efficacy and the program’s impact on career development and accomplishments in health policy. Former LEAHP graduates have had leadership roles in SGIM including the Health Policy Committee and Social Determinants of Health Working Group, the Health Equity Commission, and SGIM Council, among many others.

The application period for 2023-24 LEAHP scholars is currently open until November 21, 2022. Applicants will be notified of acceptance in January 2023. To apply or learn more about LEAHP and the policy efforts of SGIM, please visit the following:

LEAHP is an excellent opportunity to strengthen knowledge in health policy, meet exceptional colleagues, collaborators, and mentors, and amplify your engagement and advocacy in health policy—join us!


  1. Kyanko KA, Fisher M, Riddle-Jones L, et al. National Health Policy Leadership Program for General Internists. J Gen Intern Med. 2022 Feb 23:1-7. doi: 10.1007/s11606-022-07455-y. Online ahead of print.



Advocacy, Health Policy & Advocacy, Leadership, Administration, & Career Planning, Medical Education, Research, SGIM

Author Descriptions

Drs. Kyanko ( and Riddle-Jones ( are previous LEAHP scholars and an associate professor at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and assistant professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine, respectively. Dr. Staiger (, professor at University of Washington School of Medicine, and Dr. Schwartz (, professor at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, are the LEAHP program directors.