NRHA Rural Health Fellows Program

NRHA's Rural Health Fellows program is a yearlong, intensive training program that develops leaders who can articulate a clear and compelling vision for rural America. 

View the current Rural Health Fellow rosters

Become a Rural Health Fellow

Each year, NRHA selects 10 to 15 highly motivated individuals who have proven their dedication to improving the health of rural Americans through their educational or professional experience.

The goal of the Fellows program is to educate and develop a network of diverse rural leaders that will step forward to serve in key positions in the association, affiliated advocacy groups, and local and state legislative bodies with health equity as a main focus.

The submission period for 2024 Rural Health Fellows applications is now open through Sept. 14.

For more information, contact Ally Zimmerman, program services coordinator, at 202-639-0550.

NRHA's Rural Health Fellows meet in person three times throughout the year to undergo intensive leadership and advocacy training. In addition, fellows take part in monthly conference calls to supplement their training, receive updates on legislative and regulatory concerns that impact rural health, and participate in a mentorship program with current members of NRHA's Board of Trustees. These monthly calls will help Fellows to develop their leadership skills as rural health advocates. Rural Health Fellows should be committed to advocating on behalf of rural health and should be dedicated to NRHA's mission.


  • Applicants to the Rural Health Fellows Program must be NRHA members for at least one year before applying to the program and must remain a member in good standing through the duration of the program.
  • Applicants must demonstrate a strong commitment to improving the health of all people residing in rural America through the provision of equitable health care services. This commitment must be demonstrated in the personal statement, as well as the curriculum vitae/resume of the applicant.
  • Applicants must be willing and able to commit to monthly conference calls as part of the program and complete a project as a member of an Action Project Team.
  • Applicants must have a sponsor to support travel/lodging expenses to attend three NRHA meetings: 1) NRHA's Rural Health Policy Institute, 2) NRHA's Annual Rural Health Conference, 3) the fellows graduation ceremony.
  • Applicants must commit to attend all Rural Health Fellows training sessions.

2024 Rural Health Fellows class training sessions:

1.  Feb. 13-15, 2024 - Rural Health Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.
2. May 6-10, 2024 - Annual Rural Health Conference in New Orleans, La.
3. February 2025 - Rural Health Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

Application Requirements
  • At least one year of membership in NRHA
  • Curriculum Vitae/ Resume
  • Personal statement

Program Curriculum
  • Gaining a deeper understanding of the issues facing rural America
    • While Rural Health Fellows are expected to understand the disparities present within rural America prior to acceptance into the program, taking part in the program allows for further exploration of rural health issues and possible solutions
  • Networking with rural health leaders
    • Involvement in the Rural Health Fellows program facilitates contact with NRHA leaders and other rural leaders within the program. Fellows often go on to serve leadership roles within NRHA or other rural health groups.
  • Creation of a Policy Paper
    • Rural Health Fellows will work in groups to develop policy papers delineating a rural health issue and ways to ameliorate the problem. These policy papers will be turned into policy briefs for the NRHA website.
      • Some previous paper topics include:
        • Decreasing Life Expectancy
        • Rural Public Health
        • Mental Health in Rural Areas

Program benefits
  • Developing leadership skills and mentorship under current NRHA leaders
  • Working with like-minded individuals to generate solutions to problems facing rural America
  • Driving rural health policy solutions on behalf of NRHA

Application Review Process
  • Applications are due Thursday, September 14, 2023.
  • Applications are reviewed and ranked by members of NRHA staff. A meeting is held to discuss applicants.
  • Applicants will receive an email on their acceptance or non-acceptance into the program. Applicants will have two weeks to respond to their acceptance email and secure their spot in the program.

Rural Health Fellows program costs

There is no program fee for participation in the Rural Health Fellows program. Applicants must have a sponsor (employer, corporate or self) responsible for all travel and lodging costs to attend the three training sessions.