GW Health Workforce Institute Receives $5.5 Million to Advance Health Workforce Equity Issues

Media Contact: Kathy Fackelmann,, 202-994-8354

WASHINGTON, DC (March 9, 2016)— Researchers at the George Washington University’s (GW) Health Workforce Institute today announced a $5.5 million award from The Atlantic Philanthropies to promote health workforce equity by identifying, connecting and preparing leaders in the field to advance social mission in health professions education. The five-year project will also enable GW to augment its pipeline development programs for underserved students interested in health careers in the District of Columbia and surrounding area.

Teaching health equity – instruction in strategies to reduce health disparities – has not traditionally been a part of the education and training curricula for physicians, nurses and other future health sector leaders. To address that gap, last year a multi-disciplinary team of GW faculty members led by Fitzhugh Mullan, MD, launched the GW Health Workforce Institute, which Mullan now co-directs with Associate Professor Polly Pittman. The Institute seeks to foster not only research, but a robust global conversation and a multidisciplinary network focused on the technical and moral issues related to health workforce equity. The goal is ensuring that health care is responsive to the needs of all communities and more representative of the individuals within those communities.

“We are thrilled to have this level of support dedicated to enhancing social mission in health professions education,” says Mullan.  “We live in a world of health disparities. This Atlantic Philanthropies sponsored initiative will enable GW to pioneer a new and expanded set of programs focused on the reduction of health workforce disparities,” continues Mullan, who is also the Murdock Head Professor of Medicine and Health Policy, a joint position at GW’s Milken Institute School of Public Health and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS).

“Atlantic has long been dedicated to improving access to quality health care and to supporting leaders and building the health workforce to achieve that outcome, particularly for disadvantaged and vulnerable communities,” says Christopher G. Oechsli, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Atlantic Philanthropies. “This grant exemplifies Atlantic’s fundamental strategies and initiatives to advance health equity in the United States and globally.”

Specifically, Atlantic’s support will enable three initiatives to advance the Institute’s health equity efforts:

Educating LeadersMullan and his team will design and implement an annual, year-long Leaders for Health Equity Fellowship program. Fellows will be selected from the United States and the developing world based on prior commitment in the area of health equity and demonstrated leadership promise. The program will build and support a linked group of 75 global multidisciplinary leaders equipped with the technical knowledge, skills and network to advance health workforce equity in their communities, institutions, and professional circles.

Building Pipelines—The GW Health Workforce Institute team and the SMHS Office of Diversity and Inclusion will develop and augment pipeline programs for disadvantaged youth in the Washington, DC area who are interested in learning about health care, health equity and careers in the health sciences. The initiative will involve GW medical, public health and nursing students as mentors and coaches working with students from DC-area high schools.

Fostering Networks—The GW team will collaborate with the Beyond Flexner Alliance (BFA) in developing a national network of organizations dedicated to transformative change in health professions education around the principle of social mission.  This work will include the creation of an ongoing professional network to spur collaborative thinking, information sharing and advocacy among organizations that train health professionals.

“We have been training policy leaders in GW’s Residency Fellowship in Health Policy for 10 years,” notes Guenevere Burke, MD, MBA, Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine in the SMHS. “We are excited to be creating a health equity fellowship with national and global reach.” Seble Frehywot, MD, MHSA, Associate Research Professor of Health Policy and Global Health at Milken Institute School of Public Health will lead the online learning for the Fellowship.

“We are intent on expanding GW’s footprint in our community by reaching out to underserved DC students who want to become doctors, nurses, and health scientists,” says Sonal Batra, MD, also an Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine in the SMHS and a former public school teacher, and who will lead the pipeline development program.  


About Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University:
Established in July 1997 as the School of Public Health and Health Services, Milken Institute School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, more than 1,900 students from 54 U.S. states and territories and more than 50 countries pursue undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school also offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, and an online Executive Master of Health Administration, MHA@GW, which allow students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.

About the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences:
Founded in 1824, the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was the first medical school in the nation’s capital and is the 11th oldest in the country. Working together in our nation’s capital, with integrity and resolve, the GW SMHS is committed to improving the health and well-being of our local, national, and global communities.

About The Atlantic Philanthropies:
The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to advancing opportunity, equity and human dignity. Established in 1982, when Chuck Feeney quietly committed virtually all of his assets to the foundation, Atlantic has since made grants approaching $8 billion. In keeping with Mr. Feeney’s “Giving While Living,” big-bet philosophy, Atlantic invests in systemic change to accelerate improvements in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The foundation, which has operated in Australia, Bermuda, Cuba, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South African, the United States, and Vietnam, will complete all grant making in 2016 and conclude operations shortly afterward.