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Amanda Ferguson, Pharm.D., has been named the American College of Clinical Pharmacy-American Society of Health-System Pharmacists-Virginia Commonwealth University Congressional Healthcare Policy Fellow for 2022-23.

This fellowship offers pharmacists an opportunity to gain insight into health care policy analysis and development through immersion in the congressional environment. Over the course of the year, fellows are mentored in legislative evaluation, policy development, research and writing.

Ferguson earned her Pharm.D. from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy after completing undergraduate requirements at Howard University. She is currently completing her master’s degree in public policy at Georgetown University. Between earning these degrees, Ferguson served as an active duty commissioned officer in the U.S. Department of the Air Force and Defense Health Agency (DHA) for almost a decade. Her domestic and international experiences cover a broad range of clinical and operational pharmacy practices, academia, defense health care, and health care policy. Toward the end of her tenure there, she served as the director of operations for a military treatment facility (MTF) in the initial year of the military health reform.

“As a part of this reform, all MTFs were mandated by Congress to transition from self-management to the authority, direction, and control of DHA,” she said. “Such overhaul required complex coordination and policy rewrites to standardize health care delivery across all services of the entire military. It was through this experience I became more involved in health policy and, by the completion of this assignment, I was clear on the extent to which policies can impact people and how important representation is to these policy discussions.”

Ferguson was originally inspired to pursue pharmacy because of pharmacists’ involvement in her mother’s care and treatment for sickle cell anemia. Their frequent interactions with her and her family and the attentiveness they showed to her mother’s care regimen made her realize just how impactful pharmacists can be in their patients’ lives.

“Being her advocate throughout my life made me realize I wanted to pursue a career in health care,” she said. “I found pharmacy most interesting as a child because of how accessible we are to our patients and how integral we are in their care, both in the hospital and when they return to their homes. To be in a position to help restore a person’s health or quality of life is truly a privilege.”

“To be in a position to help restore a person’s health or quality of life is truly a privilege.

Amanda Ferguson, Pharm.D.

As the next fellow, Ferguson hopes to use her background to better advocate for inclusive health care policies at the national level and provide a pharmacist’s perspective to lawmakers and other relevant constituents.

“Innovation really needs to be married up with policy change,” she said. “We can make efforts at the tactical level to continuously try to innovate operations, but if the policies aren’t updated and aligned, there will continuously be bottlenecks.”

The fellowship begins in July and consists of one week at the Brookings Institution and three weeks each with ACCP’s and ASHP’s government affairs offices. Afterward, Ferguson will begin her placement within a congressional office or on a congressional committee staff in Washington, D.C.

After completing the fellowship, she hopes to continue working in health policy development in some fashion.

“My dream job would be at the intersection of health care, policy, innovation and social welfare,” Ferguson said. “That could be a position on The Hill, a position with a health care consulting firm or a thinktank. The opportunities are limitless and I’m excited to see how everything will unfold!”

The fellowship program, directed by VCU School of Pharmacy associate professor Kristin Zimmerman, was founded 15 years ago under the leadership of professor Gary R. Matzke. For more about the ACCP-ASHP-VCU Congressional Healthcare Policy Fellow program, visit our website or contact Kristin Zimmerman directly.

Categories Faculty news, Pharmacy profession