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VCU-based fellowship is the only one of its kind in the U.S.

By Sydney Weber

Mikayla Harris, Pharm.D., has been selected for the 2024-25 American College of Clinical Pharmacy-American Society of Health-System Pharmacists-Virginia Commonwealth University Congressional Healthcare Policy Fellowship, marking the program’s 18th year.

The 14-month fellowship in Washington, D.C., the only one of its kind in the nation, continues to offer practical instruction and support within the U.S. Congress, ACCP and ASHP government affairs offices. Fellows are able to develop skills in issue prioritization, policy, legislation evaluation, research, writing and advocacy.

In 2023, Harris earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Lipscomb University where she gained experience as a member of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity, the Tennessee Pharmacists Association (TPA) and the Phi Lambda Sigma Honor Society.

Through both educational and first-hand experience with the health care payment system, Harris developed a particular interest in health care payment reform and the barriers associated with health care services.

“Pharmacists are key front-line health care providers and can contribute significantly to this issue that has become a public health crisis,” Harris wrote in her application. “Whether in my personal or professional capacity, I am dedicated to using my pharmacy training to effect positive change in communities across America.”

Harris is currently completing a one-year Executive Fellowship in Association Management at the Iowa Pharmacy Association, where she is gaining experience in interprofessional collaboration, addressing barriers to comprehensive patient care, and initiating change through discussions with state leaders regarding artificial intelligence, pharmacogenomics and workforce conditions.

“In pharmacy school, I was told to find my ‘why’ to have as a reminder for when the curriculum was tough,” Harris wrote. “My ‘why’ is to ensure I am equipped to use my knowledge and background to ensure pharmacists are able to take care of patients to the fullest potential.”

By accepting this fellowship, Harris continues to step towards her professional goals of pursuing a position as a congressional staffer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or in legislative and regulatory affairs at a professional organization.

“Having seen a variety of pharmacy practice settings, collaborating with other health care professionals and hearing from patient groups, I know this fellowship will help equip me to better analyze and contribute to health care policy formation,” Harris wrote.

The fellowship program – directed by VCU School of Pharmacy associate professor Kristin
Zimmerman – was founded 14 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 director Kristin Zimmerman at

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