Funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the AHRQ Training Program is a three-year, full-time PhD program offered within the Institute on Healthcare Systems of the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy.
The primary objective of this program is the focused and rigorous preparation of doctoral students for research careers in universities, governmental agencies, or other research settings devoted to health services research. The program builds on the multi-disciplinary social science education and research opportunities offered at the Institute on Healthcare Systems.
In addition to offering a core curriculum that emphasizes social sciences, research methods, and applied research courses, the program will conceptually link health outcomes, providers and organizations, and health policies. The Institute of Medicine Report, "Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health Care System for the 21st Century," accurately notes that health care problems abound and have remained unsolved for a long period of time. The Report points to the misalignment of broad policies, the behavior of organizations and micro processes of care that service organizations implement. Redesigning the system to bring about a better alignment is the challenge for future researchers.
The Institute on Healthcare Systems, with its experienced faculty in health policy, emphasis on health services research that involves organizations and providers, and health management faculty, is taking on the challenge of training health services researchers with the skills to focus on re-designing the U.S. health care system.
The training program has identified four areas of competencies:
The first competency will include an understanding of the experience of individuals in relation to their health needs. Processes include the relationships and communications among various healthcare workers, the work processes, and procedures of care within the health care delivery system. Organizational designs and practices covered in competency (3) are important for understanding how organizations respond to policies. Finally, culture, economics and political systems all exert pressures on organizations, providers and individuals. The training program seeks to provide all four competencies and how they interrelate.
The training program is sequenced to provide a doctoral education that includes the development of broad substantive knowledge in major policy areas, advanced training in the principles of research design/statistical reasoning, and experiences in the conduct of research. Students must complete 15 courses and meet the specific requirements of the concentration in health and the Research Ethics module. In addition, each doctoral candidate must successfully complete a Comprehensive Paper and obtain approval of a quantitative dissertation by a four-person committee including a professional in health services research outside of the Heller School community.
A central element of the training program is the development of strong mentoring relationships. Each student is matched with a mentor, based on mutual interests, during the first semester of study. The core faculty includes professors in political science, economics, and organizational theory. Mentors are accessible to students as members of the program faculty and through health services research tutorials. All AHRQ trainees work with experienced researchers who are engaged in a wide variety of studies addressing health services and health policy concerns. At a minimum, each trainee is expected to be involved in an existing research project for approximately 8 hours per week during the school year. This experience will prepare students to undertake an independent research project, as required for the dissertation.
Each traineeship includes tuition support and an annual stipend (currently $23,376) as well as a travel budget and Brandeis University health insurance coverage.
Applicants interested in the AHRQ training program must be U.S. citizens and accepted for the full-time PhD program at the Heller School before they can be considered for a traineeship. There is no separate application process for the training grant. However, the Statement of Purpose from the admissions application may be used in the selection process and candidates are encouraged to discuss their interest in the training program in their statement. Inquiries regarding the PhD program should be directed to:
The deadline for submitting the application for admission is December 15. For further information about the AHRQ program, please contact:
Jon Chilingerian, PhD
AHRQ Program Director
The co-director of this program is Christopher Tompkins.