The Wisconsin Partnership Program has supported many UW School of Medicine and Public Health educational initiatives over the past 15 years, including Transforming Medical Education, the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine, the Master of Public Health degree program, the Population Health Service Fellowship and the Preventive Medicine Residency. These programs engage students and trainees beyond the classroom and provide opportunities for skill and leadership development to ensure the next generation of healthcare professionals is prepared to serve patients and communities across the state.

The Partnership Program has supported the Population Health Service Fellowship Program since its inception in 2004. The program is a cornerstone of the Partnership’s educational investments and continues to successfully achieve its goals of both public health workforce development and service contributions to rural and urban communities.

The Fellowship Program places early career public health professionals in local and state government and community organizations to tackle some of the state’s most pressing health issues. These placements provide fellows with opportunities to gain professional experience, build skills and develop connections within the public health field.

Population health graduates pose for a photo
The Population Health Services Fellowship Program celebrates the graduation of its 2017-2109 cohort of fellows. The graduates are joined by preceptors and fellows, faculty and staff from the Population Health Institute.

To date, 80 masters- or doctoral-prepared fellows from diverse backgrounds have been placed in more than 40 local and state public health and community-based organizations. The number of graduating fellows currently contributing to, or leading, Wisconsin’s public health workforce continues to grow, with 69 percent of fellows currently staying in Wisconsin.

Paula Tran Inzeo, MPH, a former fellow and current director of the UW SMPH Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health Group says, “The Fellowship Program truly catalyzes career trajectory. Fellows have the opportunity to work and lead at a much higher level than they would have if they had taken entry-level public health jobs. This opportunity, combined with the networks they build, creates a career launching pad not available elsewhere.”

The fellows are widely recognized for their outstanding contributions to the organizations and communities they serve. Specifically, fellows have contributed to the receipt of more than $1.4 million in grants addressing maternal and child health, as well as efforts to address Ebola preparedness, immunizations, response to flu and improving health outcomes for those living with AIDS/HIV.

Thomas Oliver, PhD, MHA, MA, a professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences and director of the Fellowship Program, is pleased with the contributions the fellows are making and their commitment to the state. He says, “It is truly remarkable that many of the Fellowship alum remain in Wisconsin, given that they come from all over the country. Not only are they learning and working here—they are building their careers and lives in Wisconsin as well.”

With the recent launch of its fifteenth cohort of fellows, the scope of the program continues to evolve. It is deepening its focus on health equity and is broadening its geographic reach to more rural and tribal communities in an effort to address the unique health challenges facing many Wisconsin communities.

Says Oliver, “The Fellowship Program is emblematic of the mission of the Partnership Program to improve health and health equity in Wisconsin. Our program continues to grow and evolve in ways that make that vision likely, thanks to the Partnership Program’s investments in education and people.”

Creating fellowship

The Population Health Services Program is a fellowship in the true sense of the word. Through its learning communities and partnerships with preceptors across the state, a network of public health learners and leaders flourishes and benefits organizations and communities in multiple ways.

Kristie Egge, a community health planner with the Wood County Public Health Department, serves as preceptor for the Fellowship Program. She reflects on this role as one of her most impactful and rewarding experiences, both professionally and personally. Through monthly Learning Community meetings, fellows and preceptors build their network, gain knowledge and have the chance to share and problem-solve with other public health leaders in the state. Niki Euhardy, who recently graduated from the fellowship program and served as a fellow for Wood County Health Department, is now working as a public health policy and equity coordinator with the Winnebago Public Health Department. She says, “Nothing could have prepared me for a public health career the way this fellowship has. There were so many opportunities to try new ideas, build self-confidence, make statewide connections and grow as a leader. I hope to be able to give back to the program as a preceptor myself one day.”

Kristie echoes the value of the program. “Our health department would not be where it is today without Niki’s contributions and leadership on many important projects. It’s amazing when you think of how significantly the Fellowship Program and its fellows have contributed to the field of public health and to society.”

Learn more about the Population Health Service Fellowship Program.