Health Policy

Track Curriculum

The Health Policy Track is designed to increase the interest, understanding, and capabilities of medical students in regard to the health policies (public, private, commercial, philanthropic, local, national, and global) that affect health and healthcare in the United States.

Health Policy Defined (Merriam Webster dictionary)

Health: The condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially freedom from physical disease or pain


  1. Prudence or wisdom in the management of affairs
  2. A definite course or method of action selected from among alternatives and in light of given conditions to guide and determine present and future decisions
  3. A high-level overall plan embracing the general goals and acceptable procedures especially of a governmental body

Health Care Reformed?

Health policy has generated tremendous interest over the past year with the passing of health care reform.  Debates and controversy over health care policy continue as the administration implements key aspects of the legislation. In this and other contexts, health care policy is a critical component in determining the type of care patients receive and the way clinicians practice medicine. 

Track Objectives

  • To gain a broad understanding of health policy issues and the dynamics of health policy making in the United States
  • To become knowledgeable about the forces—people, agencies, organizations, and movements—that affect health policy
  • To understand the historical context of current health policy debates
  • To take advantage of the extraordinary wealth of health policy learning opportunities that exist in the Washington, DC area
  • To develop analytic capabilities and a knowledge base that will serve as a strong foundation to address future health policy challenges

Track Activities

  Required First & Second Year

  • Attend lecture series
  • Participate in an Experiential Opportunity in the Summer following first year
    • Students must submit a project proposal including scope of work, a timeline, objectives/goals, and the organization/mentor with which the student will be working including contact information
    • After project completion, students are required to submit a 4-6 page reflection paper to include the student’s project scope, the role the student played in the project, how the project changed from the original proposal, and reflections on the experience

 Other Opportunities in First & Second Year

  • Attend Congressional Hearings
  • Attend Policy Conferences

  Required Third & Fourth Year

  • Scholarly Project will be related to track of study
  • Policy Elective (4-6 weeks)

  Other Opportunities in Third & Fourth Year

  • Attend Policy Events in the Nation’s Capitol
  • Seniors can Participate in GW’s Residency Fellowship in Health Policy

Track Lecture Series

  Topic Areas for Years I & II (sampling)

  • History of Health Policy
  • The Safety Net
  • Access to Care
  • Advocacy
  • Health Policy: A Physician’s Perspective
  • The Primary Care Medical Home
  • Physician Workforce Policy
  • Health Care Payment Reform
  • Health Care Reform Implementation
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research
  • Social Determinants of Health

Experiential Opportunities

  Summer Internships/Senior Elective Host Sites (sampling)

  • Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
  • American Medical Student Association (AMSA)
  • U.S. Congress
  • DC Primary Care Association
  • DC Department of Health
  • GW Department of Health Policy
  • Peace Corps
  • RAND Corporation
  • Heritage Foundation
  • US Department of Health and Human Services

*Other educational opportunities and activities to enrich students’ experiences may be added to the curriculum during the program, per the discretion of the Track Directors.