The goal of the health and aging policy fellowship
program is to help professionals improve the quality
of care for older Americans. –
Melissa B PhD


The goal of the Health and Aging Policy Fellowship program is to help professionals in the aging space gain the skills and experiences they need to impact policy to improve the quality of life and quality of care delivered to older Americans. In this week’s episode, Melissa shares her Health and Aging Policy Fellow experience.


Part One of ‘Health and Aging Policy Fellow Experience’

The Health and Aging Policy Fellow Experience is a program that is sponsored by the John A. Hartford Foundation and Atlantic Philanthropies. Anyone who is interested in health care and works in aging is eligible to apply to this program. It is highly competitive, and there are a series of information webinars/phone calls you can attend prior to submitting your application. You would start by looking at the Health and Aging Policy Fellowship (HAPF) website. The HAPF website gives you the key dates and when the information webinars/phone calls are held. That’s a great way to get a little bit more information about the program.

For the application process, you would decide if you wanted to do the residential or non-residential track. And if you wanted to do a non-residential track, you would propose to do a project, with a particular organization or agency within the executive branch, judicial branch, a private foundation or an organization that matches your area of expertise and what you want to gain from the experience.


Geriatric workforce improvement act is meant to
help prepare our workforce within the USA to take
care of older adults. – Melissa B (05:15-05:36)


Many of the residential fellows will have some type of congressional experience for their fellowship. They either serve in the office of a member of the House of Representatives or a member of the Senate. All of that depends on what your interest and area of expertise is. That drives making those decisions. You write your proposal and then if you’re selected to interview, then you may end up being selected as a fellow for the upcoming year. Once you are a fellow, first you have a five-week orientation in Washington, D.C. where you go and stay in D.C. for that period of time. The first week of the orientation is with the Health and Aging Policy Fellowship program itself, as well as Academy Health. Then you have four weeks where you are learning about the current issues in Congress, the actual legislative process, the great refresher from US history when you were in high school. You’ll get a chance to go to the Library of Congress and go to different offices and agencies within the US government.


Part Two of ‘Health and Aging Policy Fellow Experience’

Melissa had the chance to visit CMS, which is the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Maryland State House to watch the legislative process at the state level, to get an idea of what and how things are compared to the state level and the federal level. She had a broad range of experiences of how policy moves through the process, and how the executive branch and legislative branches inform each other or are impacted by each other. And the role of the judicial branch as well. When you’re choosing your project, you’re looking to see what the current priorities are for the agency that you might want to work with and how you may fit into carving out some projects for yourself.


Advanced care planning is crucial because we are having more older adults within our family circle and communities. – Melissa B (10:53-11:05)


Melissa did the non-residential track but was able to have a legislative experience because she lived close enough to D.C. She served in the Senate on the Special Committee for Aging in the office of Senator Collins. One of their significant areas of interest for the Special Committee on Aging is Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s care, which fit with her professional background. The Senate Special Committee on Aging is interested in elder abuse, frauds, scams, pricing of insulin and other drugs. It was precisely the experience she wanted to have. She also helped to prepare for hearings, write briefs, and work on some of the bills that were going to be introduced, particularly the Geriatric Workforce Improvement Act. It is a piece of legislation. This is the only federally-funded program that helps prepare healthcare professionals in geriatrics. It’s meant to create programs around the United States to help prepare our workforce to take care of older adults.

If you do a legislative experience and serve in a member of Congress or a House of Representative’s office, you have an opportunity to visit the state office in the home district of the member. During Melissa’s state visit, she was invited to do a presentation with people from the local Alzheimer’s Association and other members of the community that interested in Alzheimer’s care. That was a highlight for her as a nurse scientist to do her policy, visit and incorporate her work into that as well.



How to Get Involved: 

If you have questions about the Health and Aging Policy Fellows program, please visit their website at and/ or email to get up-to-date information on informational phone calls (that I accidentally kept referring to in the podcast as “orientation phone calls”) and Key Dates / Deadlines for the year you plan to apply.

For More Information About The Health and Aging Policy:




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About Melissa:

Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN. I am a nurse, nurse practitioner, nurse educator and nurse researcher with over 25 years of experience in the aging and long-term care healthcare space. You can visit my website at to learn more about me, how you can work with me directly,
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Find out more about her work HERE.