FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
While the following information is subject to change, it provides a helpful guide for those interested in applying for HFA.
Are fellows able to choose their own health project for the year?
Each year, HFA leadership has chosen the health challenge, based on need, the potential to very rapidly create positive change, and having the right clinician mentorship available to actively support work in a specific domain.
Traditionally the health focus is assigned after our selected fellows sign their contracts. Thus, we're working to attract people who are passionate about the fellowship experience—centered on health, design, entrepreneurship, and leadership—more than a specific disease state, health condition, etc. Thus, we are unable to confirm the likelihood of a specific topic becoming our next focus area at this time.
When does the fellowship run?
The fellowship runs from September through the end of July. Fellows receive time off for holidays.
What is the structure of the fellowship?
HFA provides resources, support, and guidance, while the fellows generally determine the daily activities of the fellowship following onboarding. There are three distinct phases: exploration, ideation, and implementation. During the initial exploration phase, the fellows develop content expertise about their focus area and methodological expertise in design thinking and lean startup methods. Additionally, they get a true grasp of opportunities to improve the lives of people living with the disease and those caring for them. Fellows then enter the second phase, ideation, when they brainstorm ideas and test out the validity and impact of top ideas, both among experts and with user feedback. In the final phase, implementation, the fellows use continuous feedback to refine their idea into a polished prototype and move forward with an implementation plan.
What does a fellow’s typical day look like?
HFA fellows directly report to the Director of Health for America at MedStar Health and meet regularly with other program leaders at the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2), as well as their assigned physician mentors. This HFA Leadership Team provides HFA fellows with guidance regularly.
A typical day likely depends on the phase of the program. Early in the exploration phase, clinical shadowing, physician/program mentor meetings, key conferences, etc., may be pre-scheduled to ensure fellows gain access to these opportunities, to help dedicate as much of fellows' time as possible to learning (vs. scheduling logistics), and to leverage existing connections when possible. As the program progresses, day-to-day scheduling and work are largely directed by the fellows, as a team. Activities may include traveling for educational opportunities, interviewing patients in a clinic, participating in creative brainstorming sessions, meeting with stakeholders, prototyping solutions, and more. Applicants best suited for this fellowship are flexible, adaptable, and excited by the prospect of working on innovative solutions to health challenges in a variety of environments.
Read our blog and follow our social media platforms to learn more about the day-to-day experiences of the fellows.
Do fellows work individually?
Fellows work in an interdisciplinary team of four.
To what extent do fellows interact with healthcare settings?
HFA is a program embedded in the MedStar Health system—the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region—and specifically housed in the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2). This gives HFA fellows unparalleled access to the healthcare system—a level of access that is extremely difficult to obtain, even for most tech innovators and health entrepreneurs. Fellows shadow physicians and nurses, interview patients and caregivers, meet regularly with clinical staff and hospital administrators, and tour a full range of inpatient and outpatient settings.
What is the stipend for the fellowship? Are there additional benefits?
The stipend is $50,000. Fellows also get access to conferences, training, and more, including paid attendance fees and expenses while traveling (flights, food, and lodging). Fellows work full time (with designated time off), are considered self-employed for tax purposes, and do not receive health benefits. Flexibility is provided for needs such as graduate school interviews, doctor’s appointments, etc., and fellows are responsible for communicating with HFA leaders about these needs. We respect (and encourage!) work-life balance.
Where are the fellows based?
The fellows are based in Washington, D.C.
How much travel is involved?
HFA fellows are constantly on the move. In their first four months, past fellows have traveled about 25% of the time, attending conferences, visiting healthcare settings, and interviewing stakeholders. They traveled less as the year went on, as they focused on building their solution. Applicants can expect travel to nearby cities and beyond. In the past the fellows have traveled to Houston, Las Vegas, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Baltimore, Boston, Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, Vancouver, Barcelona, and beyond.
How do fellows learn about health, design, and entrepreneurship?
Fellows learn through reading books, attending conferences, participating in crash courses, shadowing stakeholders, interviewing patients, simulating patient experiences, establishing mentors, and following the HFA curriculum. It is a very immersive and hands-on experience.
What type of space do fellows work in?
The fellows work out of MI2 as well as 1776, a global startup incubator and seed fund with area offices in both Washington, D.C. and Arlington, VA. 1776 provides a co-working space with other entrepreneurs. This type of open environment is a natural fit for our fellows and provides excellent access to mentors and partners. The fellows also work out of a variety of clinical settings.
What happens at the end of the fellowship?
Fellows may work on their solution within or outside of MedStar. Depending on the solution, there are also opportunities to transition the project to MI2 staff, other groups within MedStar, or external partners. Other fellows have pursued different professional or educational paths that are often inspired by their HFA experience.
See our alumni page to learn more about where past fellows have taken their careers.
Is housing provided?
Housing is not provided, but the HFA team often provides tips to support fellows' housing searches.
Separate from the 2017-18 HFA fellowship, does the program offer internships for college students? What other opportunities are on the horizon?
The program does not offer internships to college students at this time. The best way to stay updated about future opportunities is to sign up for our master email list via the bottom of our home page.
Who can apply?
Applicants can come from any type of background and do not need experience in health, design, entrepreneurship, or a technical background. We deliberately select diverse fellows to create interdisciplinary teams.
All applicants must be within three years post-bachelor’s degree (for their first bachelor's degree). For the 2017-18 term, if you graduated from undergrad between January 2014 and July 2017, you are eligible to apply. This requirement holds regardless of if applicants have their master’s degree or are in the process of earning their master’s degree. You do not need a master’s degree to apply.
All applicants must be eligible to work in the United States. HFA cannot help with visas or sponsorships.
What is the application period for the 2017-18 Fellowship? How do applicants apply?
The 2017-18 HFA application period is now closed. Applications were accepted via this website from Monday, Jan. 16-Friday, Feb. 24, 2017 at Noon Eastern Time. All applicants were required to apply directly through the HFA website. Any applications sent via email, job board websites, or university portals will not be considered.
For the fellowship application short and long answer sections, do the character limits include spaces? Is it correct that you are tracking characters vs. words?
As noted at the top of the application, one space is one character. The length guidelines are listed in characters vs. words. We are thus seeking very concise reflections on these topics.
Do you have length or content requirements for the resume?
No, we do not have resume length or content requirements. Given it's one element of an application package and we historically have hundreds of people apply, you might consider keeping it to 1-2 pages and spotlighting your top achievements.
What makes a good fellow?
HFA seeks fellows who are entrepreneurial, adaptable, team-oriented, self-initiating, hard-working, friendly, curious, eager to learn, humble, and capable of transferring skills from other disciplines.
How are fellows selected?
Fellows are selected from a competitive pool of applicants with a wide variety of backgrounds, including computer science, technology, art, engineering, design, health, business, and more. Using resumes, transcripts, short essays, interviews, and references, fellows are selected based on their aptitude, creativity, passion, demonstrated teamwork skills, leadership, interpersonal skills, and integrity by a diverse recruiting team.
Do you schedule individual informational calls or meetings to discuss the program in greater detail?
Given that hundreds apply for our program and that we have very limited recruiting resources, we have set a policy that we do not conduct individual informational calls/meetings during the application period. Instead, we offered a live group webinar with an open question and answer session at the end, and the playback of that webinar is now available via this page.
Additionally, those who advance to the next stage of our process will participate in a phone interview, and finalists traditionally join us for two days of in-person interviews, so know that one-on-one interaction is an important part of the latter stages of our interview process.
Lastly, another way to stay informed about the program more broadly is to sign up for the primary HFA email list at the bottom of our home page to receive our HFA Quarterly E-news that contains periodic program updates.
Who can be listed as a reference? What should they expect?
We encourage you to pick your best advocates as references. This can include professors, managers, mentors, etc. Please include at least one professional reference who can speak to your abilities in a work environment.
References may be contacted by phone and/or email after our application deadline as we assess if select candidates will advance in our process. If needed, we traditionally try to reach references by phone with specific questions as our first choice if schedules align.
We do not request/review letters of recommendation.
What should applicants do if they have multiple transcripts?
If you transferred schools, have an undergraduate and graduate transcript, or have multiple transcripts for any other reason, please put all transcripts into one PDF and upload the single, consolidated document into your application.
Should I have received a confirmation email immediately after submitting my application?
No. You will see the following confirmation message on your screen: Thank you for applying for the Health for America at MedStar Health fellowship! Our team will be in touch after applications close."
All applicants will receive at least two email updates about the status of their candidacy: an email within the days following the Feb. 24 at Noon Eastern Time application deadline confirming receipt of application materials and the next step, and a late March 2017 email indicating whether or not they will advance in the process.
When did applicants hear back from the HFA recruitment team about the 2016-17 Fellowship?
Applicants heard by late March 2016 about whether or not they received an interview. Additional detail about last year's recruitment timeline, process, etc., was provided in the informational webinar appearing on this page. We expect recruitment for the 2017-18 program to be very similar.
Email any additional questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Health for America (HFA) at MedStar Health fellowship, a program housed in the MedStar Institute for Innovation, tackles America’s most pressing healthcare challenges through diverse next-generation talent, innovation, and distinctive learning experiences centered on health, design, entrepreneurship, and leadership. HFA fellows gain unique access to related education and expertise through national conference attendance, a rigorous curriculum, and mentors, sharing their experiences online. HFA currently grants 11-month fellowships to four interdisciplinary fellows within three years post-bachelor’s degree.
Applications for the 2016-17 program were received from over 250 young professionals, representing more than 100 U.S. undergraduate institutions and having an average 3.5 on a 4.0 grade point scale. This makes the HFA fellowship a prestigious, career-launching opportunity.
The 2017-18 fellows will start in September 2017 and complete the program at the end of July 2018.