The Phyllis Torda Health Care Quality and Equity Fellowship

National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA)

About the organization

The fellowship is an experiential learning, professional development opportunity for highly qualified, self-motivated individuals who are in the early stages of their career. NCQA recognizes that strength comes through diversity and intentionally seeks and welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds, experiences and identities. In particular, we encourage applicants who meet the eligibility criteria from the following historically under-represented racial and ethnic groups to apply: African Americans (or Blacks), American Indians and Alaska Natives, Hispanics (or Latinx), Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.


The fellowship is a 12-month, full-time program that will be conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fellows participate remotely from anywhere in the United States. NCQA is well equipped to ensure that its teleworking staff and fellows are integrated into the team and are supported in their work.

The fellowship is housed in NCQA’s Research & Analysis department, whose mission is to develop methods and conduct research to advance knowledge and promote thought leadership in health care quality. Research & Analysis engages in projects to inform national policy and programs, assists in development of relevant quality measures and generate usable products to support delivery of high-quality care.

The fellowship comprises four key components:

1. Mentorship. Fellows are supported by NCQA senior staff with expertise in health care quality; measure development; health care informatics; health care policy and implementation; practice transformation; health services and outcomes research; and analysis of health care quality data. Mentors provide oversight of each fellow’s learning plan to ensure that activities are in line with the fellow’s career goals. Mentors hold regular virtual meetings with fellows to discuss progress.

2. Educational activities. Fellows have the opportunity to participate in virtual educational activities such as online research methods and data analytics webinars, as well as policy-oriented virtual events led by NCQA, leading health care organizations and research institutions. Other educational materials and resources can also be provided, based on a fellow’s learning plan. There is a budget for fellows to take advantage of educational opportunities.

3. Experiential learning. Fellows participate in one of two tracks:

Quantitative Research Track: Geared for doctorate-trained candidates with strong research and data analytics training, with an emphasis on quantitative methods. Fellows support ongoing NCQA research projects and proposals based on their learning objectives and research background. NCQA research projects/proposals cover a variety of health care quality topics, including health equity, social determinants of health, health and social care coordination, telehealth, patient-centered care and behavioral health.Fellows should have experience in research management to complete a self-guided project during the fellowship, in consultation with NCQA research and data scientists. The project must address a health care quality/equity topic of policy significance.
Fellows are encouraged to analyze their own data or publicly available data sources they have had experience analyzing (typically, from their dissertation), or may propose using a new database they will learn during the fellowship. Fellows must demonstrate evidence of their research capability to complete analyses and finish the project during the fellowship. NCQA offers the following data sources as potential options for fellows to analyze:
Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS®) Data Factory.
Health Outcomes Survey (HOS).
Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®).
NCQA Recognition Programs database, which includes granular structure and process data on primary care (e.g., patient-centered medical homes). The level of data restriction and data quality for analysis (e.g., specific years or selected data elements) may vary by data source.
Applicants interested in using any of these data sources should indicate their preference in the Expression of Interest Form (see below) and consult with NCQA staff during the application process.

Translational Research Track: Geared for master’s-trained candidates who are interested in translational policy- or practice-focused health care research. Fellows support ongoing NCQA research projects and proposals based on their individual learning objectives and research and health care experience. NCQA has a variety of research projects that intersect with measurement development, policy and products related to disease management, health information technology, multicultural health care, population health management, case management, long-term services and supports and the patient-centered medical home.As an option (not a requirement), candidates may propose a self-guided project that evaluates a health care quality/equity initiative or explores solutions to a health care quality/ equity problem. Fellows should have experience in research management to complete this project during the fellowship. The project may entail an environmental scan, literature review, interviews, focus groups, case studies and short surveys. Examples of appropriate projects include examining industry best practices, understanding responses to health policy changes and developing evidence-based toolkits and resource guides. The goal is to produce new knowledge that can further NCQA’s mission through research activities. If NCQA approves the project, work may begin in consultation with NCQA Research & Analysis staff.
4. Professional networking. Fellows have the chance to meet in virtual meetings with thought leaders in the health care quality and equity field, including experts from health care organizations, health plans, state health officials, academic institutions and patient advocacy groups.


Eligibility for the Quantitative Research Track is open to:

Doctoral candidates in a health-related discipline working on completing their dissertation.
Doctoral degree graduates in a health-related discipline with less than 3 years of post-doctoral research experience.
Eligibility for the Translational Research Track is open to:

Master’s degree graduates in a health-related discipline with 2–3 years of professional research and health care experience after completing their master’s degree.
Applicants are assessed on the following criteria:

Commitment to the field of health care quality and equity.
Match between applicant’s learning objectives/research interests and what NCQA can offer.
Potential impact of the fellowship experience on the applicant’s career.
Professional qualifications and prior achievements.
Interpersonal and communication skills.
Applicants should complete and submit an Expression of Interest Form (see below) to [email protected] to indicate their intent to apply. This allows NCQA to provide guidance and support to candidates during the application process.

Submit full application and materials to [email protected] by 11pm (ET), January 22, 2021.

One fellow will be selected for the 2021–2022 year. Refer to the timeline below.


$75,000–$100,000, depending on education and years of experience.

Application instructions

Contact email: [email protected]

Read application instructions and label documents carefully before uploading (PDF or Word documents). Incomplete applications will not be considered. Submit full application and materials to [email protected] by 11pm (ET), January 22, 2021.

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