The National Clinician Scholars Program (NCSP) aims to offer unparalleled training for clinicians as change agents driving policy-relevant research and partnerships to improve health and health care. The goal of the program is to cultivate health equity, eliminate health disparities, invent new models of care, and achieve higher quality health care at lower cost by training nurse and physician researchers who work as leaders and collaborators embedded in communities, healthcare systems, government, foundations, and think tanks in the United States and around the world.

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The overarching goal of the Duke NCSP is to train inter-professional clinician scholars in data-driven inquiry, policy-impactful and rigorous investigation, sensitive community-based participatory research, and transformation of health care practice. Four central pillars undergird the program:

  • diverse and experienced program leadership;

  • a deep bench of dedicated and successful mentors;

  • a comprehensive didactic research and professional development training program;

  • and a broad range of mentored research and policy training opportunities, including direct engagement with community partners and community organizations.

Specifically, the Duke NCSP focuses on community-based research, health services research, health policy, and implementation science across a broad range of disciplines.  Scholars will build expertise in these disciplines because they are critical both to improving health care access, equity, quality, and outcomes and to identifying and implementing effective health care policies. We also offer a master’s degree option in Duke’s Clinical Research Training Program, which will serve as the core degree program for our clinician scholars with an interest in pursuing a formal degree. Other areas of research strength at Duke include:

  • Data science

  • Urban and rural health

  • Technology-driven interventions to improve health and manage chronic illness

  • Behavior change and behavioral economics

  • Health and disease across the life span

  • Health disparities research

  • Health care policymaking

  • Community engagement

  • VA focus on prevention, virtual care, and optimizing function and independence

Situated in central North Carolina, our NCSP facilitates the study of rural and urban disparities, social determinants of health, and health in the Southeast. According to the 2017 America’s Health Rankings® Annual Report—the longest-running annual assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis—North Carolina ranks 33rd in the U.S. across 35 core measures of health, including behaviors, community and environmental conditions, policies, as well as clinical care and outcomes data. In fact, every state in the southeastern U.S. (with the exception of Virginia) falls in the bottom half of these rankings. In this geographic context, Duke serves a patient population that suffers from higher rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and heart disease than other areas of the country; consequently, Scholars who commit to improving outcomes for our population will have a larger impact on suffering.

We also have a long tradition of identifying and addressing racial disparities in health care. Duke serves an ever-growing and increasingly diverse population, and we are committed to ensuring that our workforce, leadership, and institutional environment are equally diverse so that we may deliver the highest quality of care to every patient.

As a vibrant university and health system, Duke brings a number of strengths and unique characteristics to the NCSP. With proximity to key federal and state policy stakeholders, our program joins resources from the Schools of Medicine and Nursing and the Durham VA Medical Center to create a unique training experience that prepares Scholars for leadership in clinical research and health policy locally, regionally, and nationally.

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Duke NCSP stands in solidarity as One Duke to take a collective stand against police brutality, systemic racism, and injustice. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and countless others have again brought to light the racially-motivated injustice and violence that continue to plague our country. We acknowledge the pain and suffering many are feeling in our community and commit to joining the efforts to dismantle racism and injustice. While this is an overwhelming time, we, as a program, will take this moment to strengthen our movement toward change. Like our partner NCSP sites, we are committed to ensuring that our program makes a difference by developing thought leaders and change agents who will be critical to achieving societal equity, particularly as it pertains to health. We need their insights, scholarship, and action to lead the way to true change. The road ahead is long, but we stand together in solidarity, committed to critically appraising and continually strengthening our role in this ongoing work to move toward racial equity.