Fellowship Opportunities for Advancing Health Equity

November 20, 2023 · NCQA Communications

Researchers eager to work and learn at the forefront of quality and health equity have until January 31, 2024, to apply for the Phyllis Torda Health Care Quality and Equity Fellowship.

The NCQA Torda Fellowship trains the next generation of quality leaders.

We seek candidates who want to grow by:

  • Translating health care quality and equity research into practice
  • Learning about national health care policy and quality measurement.

Honoring Phyllis Torda

The Fellowship celebrates the life and work of Phyllis Torda, a leader and mentor to many at NCQA from 1995–2015.

Phyllis was an enthusiastic champion for change and was devoted to improving American health care. She promoted:

  • Use of electronic health records.
  • New ways to evaluate physician quality.
  • Patient-reported outcomes for performance measurement.

NCQA seeks candidates who embody Phyllis’ passion for health care quality research and policy.

The Phyllis Torda Fellow will work on critical issues related to quality and equity, including:

  • Social needs.
  • Primary care.
  • Preventive care.
  • Maternal health.
  • Behavioral health.
  • Health care disparities.
  • Patient-reported outcomes.
  • Chronic disease management.
  • Value-based care and payment.
  • Telehealth and health information technology.

The Fellow will:

  • Learn by doing experiential learning projects.
  • Participate in educational programs.
  • Be mentored by NCQA senior staff.
  • Network with thought leaders.

An Equity Opportunity

Translational Research Program: This program is tailored for candidates holding master’s or doctoral degrees, who possess a strong inclination to engage in translational research that directly influences health care policy and practice. The fellows assume pivotal roles in bolstering ongoing projects and initiatives at the NCQA. They have the opportunity to integrate their knowledge and expertise in collaboration with senior staff to enhance the quality of health care.

Fellows’ Responsibilities: Within this program, fellows are tasked with the critical responsibility of identifying, synthesizing and applying evidence-based research and theories sourced from a wide array of disciplines and health-related data repositories. Their work is multifaceted and centers around problem-solving to drive progress in health care programs, policies and systems. This dynamic approach ensures that their contributions have a tangible and meaningful impact on the health care landscape.

Diverse Areas of Focus: NCQA engages in a diverse range of projects and programs that intersect with various aspects of health care. These encompass the development of measurement tools, the formulation of health policies, and the creation of products, and health information technology. NCQA has a variety of projects that intersect with measurement development, policy, and products related to health promotion, disease management, health information technology, equitable health care, population health management, case management, long-term services and supports, and the patient-centered medical home. This wide-reaching spectrum of initiatives ensures that fellows have ample opportunities to engage in research that touches virtually every facet of modern healthcare.

The fellowship is an exciting professional development opportunity for highly qualified, self-motivated individuals who are in early in their careers.

NCQA recognizes that strength comes through diversity. We welcome applicants with diverse backgrounds, experiences and identities. In particular, we encourage applicants who meet the eligibility criteria from the following historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups:

  • Asian American.
  • Hispanic/Latinx.
  • Black/African American.
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native.
  • Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander.

Current Torda Fellows Ashley Pugh and Briana Barrett are working, respectively, on:

  • Independent Torda Fellowship Projects.
  • Network Adequacy.
  • BH Performance Measurement.
  • Tennessee Community Health Worker Accreditation Program.
  • California Health Care Foundation Health Equity Scoring Planning Grant.
  • Blood Pressure ECDS Field Testing.
  • Digital Content Strategies.

Applications are due January 31, 2024.

Previous Torda Fellows have moved on to substantial roles in quality and public health:

Portia Buchongo, PhD, MPH, BSN, RN, 2022–2023 Torda Fellow, is an Applied Research Scientist, Health Equity at NCQA. Dr. Buchongo found the Fellowship to be an opportunity to gain new skills in health care quality by working on projects that spanned quality measurement in behavioral health integration, health equity measurement and her independent research that examined the impact of neighborhood socioeconomic conditions and access to diabetes prevention programs.

Whitney Graves, PhD, MPH, 2022–2023 Torda Fellow, graduated with a PhD in Epidemiology from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her research examines the role of social factors on health and health care across the life span. As a Fellow, Dr. Graves supported NCQA projects exploring quality measurement for people who give birth and strategies to advance health equity.

Kevin Wiley Jr., PhD, MPH, 2021–2022 Torda Fellow, is Assistant Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina and Leadership Fellow in the National Institutes of Health-funded Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity program. Dr. Wiley completed his PhD in Health Policy and Management, with a minor focus in Public and Population Health Informatics, at the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health. Dr. Wiley’s research examines the implications of EHR data quality on care processes in chronic disease care.

Phil Saynisch, PhD, 2019–2020 Torda Fellow, is a Lead Research Scientist in the Advanced Analytics team at Independence Blue Cross, specializing in health economics and outcomes research. Prior to joining IBC, Dr. Saynisch was a Research Scientist at NCQA, working on primary care quality and health equity in diabetes care and chronic kidney disease. He also supported product development as a subject matter expert. Dr. Saynisch earned his PhD in Health Policy from Harvard University.

Andrew Anderson, PhD, 2018–2019 Torda Fellow, is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy & Management at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. His work aims to increase the visibility of healthcare needs among historically marginalized populations. Dr. Anderson graduated with a PhD in Health Services Research from University of Maryland, College Park. As a Fellow, Dr. Anderson completed his dissertation and worked on research to evaluate care coordination in accountable care organizations, disparities in readmission and strategies to address social determinants of health.

Anne Bowers, PhD, 2017-2018 Torda Fellow, is a senior researcher and business      communications advisor at Cigna. Dr. Bowers’ fellowship project focused on health policy impacts for advanced care planning in Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans (D-SNPs). Dr. Bowers also served as the measure development lead for NCQA’s Serious Illness Care Program.

Keri Christensen, MS, 2016–2017 Torda Fellow, is Director of Strategy Implementation at NCQA. As a mid-career professional, Ms. Christensen found the Fellowship to be an opportunity to devote concentrated time to studying how social determinants of health interact with quality measurements. Her areas of interest include health care strategy and quality.


Section background
Section graphic
Section element
Section element
Stay Informed

Get updates, announcements and trending topics

Join 35k+ health care professionals