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Program Description


The overall goal of the Health Policy Fellowship is to prepare clinically trained individuals to critically evaluate legislation, develop policy briefs, advance research skills, and improve communication and dissemination skills, especially to diverse audiences. Graduates of the fellowship program will be well positioned for careers in health policy and advocacy and/or research.

What the Program Offers

  • Upon the completion of the fellowship, graduates will have gained experience and exposure in the following areas:
    • Critically assess and prioritize existing policies and draft proposals through formal analysis and impact evaluation
    • Engage with key stakeholders to inform research and produce timely, relevant policy briefs
    • Develop effective verbal and written communication skills
    • Educate others on the need for policy change and methods for advocacy implementation
    • Gain additional training in the legislative process, policy theory and analysis methodology, as needed

Structure of Program

  • This two-year fellowship will be based at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in the Center for Medication Optimization (CMO). The fellowship will start with the Brookings Institute “Inside Congress” training in Washington, DC. Afterwards, the fellow will have the opportunity to do two externships over the course of the fellowship as well as audit relevant courses offered at the University of North Carolina.

Key Activities and Skills Acquired

  • Gain foundational knowledge and skills through didactic training in policy and advocacy
    • Participate in “Inside Congress” Brookings Institute training on the Federal legislative process
    • Audit additional relevant courses offered at UNC as deemed appropriate by Fellowship Director
  • Collaborate with other policy organizations
    • Participate in externships with local or national Legislators and/or Policy Centers
    • Represent the organization at external events
  • Conduct policy research projects in conjunction with new or ongoing CMO research
    • Lead a research project with specific policy implications
    • Publish a minimum of one first-authored peer-reviewed article
    • Write policy briefs and white papers to disseminate research findings
    • Present research at local or national conferences
  • Participate in Local and National Rulemaking Process
    • Identify key regulations up for comment
    • Draft comments for identified regulations
  • Engage payer and policy stakeholders to inform research focus
    • Engage with the Payer and Policy Advisory Board
  • Teach in PharmD curriculum
    • Develop course material and guest lecture in PharmD courses (i.e., US Health Care course and/or Current Topics in Health Policy and Managed Care)
    • Co-advise PharmD honors student research projects
  • Contribute to policy-driven dissemination plan
    • Lead bi-monthly policy blog posts
    • Present on CMO policy/advocacy efforts

Current Fellows

Amber Bivins Ray

Amber Bivins Ray has joined the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy as the new health policy fellow in the Center for Medication Optimization. As the inaugural CMO Health Policy Fellow, Ray’s objectives will be to strengthen her policy development, analysis and impact evaluation skills; engage stakeholders to inform health policy research; and advocate for policy change and methods for advocacy implementation.  Ray earned her Doctor of Pharmacy from the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and holds a Masters of Public Health in health policy and management from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Duke University in chemistry. Ray’s has experience as an ORISE Fellow at the Food and Drug Administration, a health insurance marketplace navigator, leadership experience within the School and additional graduate policy training.

Activities completed during fellowship include:

  • Development of the strategic policy dissemination plan for medication optimization findings
  • Creation of educational policy resources for legislators and outside stakeholders
  • Development of educational materials for presentations
  • Track policy and regulatory impact of new rules and regulations on medication optimization, value-based care, pharmacy, and primary care
  • Co-manage other learners
  • Serve as the contact for others seeking to develop strategies and tactics to advance policy and advocacy goals related to medication optimization


Program Application Materials

  • Candidates must be U.S. citizens who hold a doctoral degree from an accredited program. Preference will be given to candidates who have health policy or relevant research experience.



UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Center for Medication

UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy


Contact Information

Carrie Martin Blanchard, Pharm.D., MPH
Director of Health Policy Fellowship
Research Assistant Professor
Center for Medication Optimization | 919-966-9978