By Clare Roche, AcademyHealth

Working with students and new professionals, I constantly hear phrases like, “I’m new to this field, how likely is it that I make a significant impact?” “it seems like an uphill battle to create change,” and even “how will the everyday tasks I work on translate and impact others?” From an individual’s perspective, especially to those just starting their professional careers, impacting the field in its entirety can seem daunting – even impossible. How could a single student or member of an organization impact legislation, inform key-decision makers, or even foster global development? Thankfully, I’m able to counter their dispirited comments with a proposition: what if you are able to join a specialized network to help you navigate these challenges?

AcademyHeath Interest Groups (IGs) serve this exact purpose! IGs facilitate interaction of individuals around specific topic areas related to health services research and health policy. Our 17 IGs act as villages within a community and aid individuals in the navigation through the potentially overwhelming bustle that is the field of HSR. Together, in conjunction with other members who share a common goal, participants are able to address current and future needs of an evolving health system and ultimately translate evidence into measurable action.

AcademyHealth’s Interest Group members are among the leaders in the health care industry. They work on a number of current and topical issues, such as:

  • Measuring Health Care Quality Improvement and Safety
  • Improving Access to Health Care, and;
  • Engaging Marginalized Populations into Participatory Roles in Research

All of which are abuzz in the health services research and health policy fields. Several of our IGs are in the midst of planning web-based meetings to disseminate relevant, impactful information to our members. Topics include:

  • Microsimulation Models to Improve Health Care Delivery Enhancing Race,
  • Ethnicity Data in Administrative Databases, and;
  • Care Coordination across the Continuum of Care

Through the dissemination of research findings, networking, and building on research skills, each IG is working to positively impact not only their community, but ultimately the field of health services research.

One student’s comment at the end of our conversation summed up the value of AcademyHealth’s Interest Groups quite nicely, she said, “after all, the saying does go ‘it takes a village.’”

Participation in Interest Groups is open to all individual members of AcademyHealth. Join now to become a part of a “village.”

Clare Roche is the Student Membership and Chapter Coordinator at AcademyHealth where she manages all student chapters and student members, as well as coordinates the scholarships and awards programs. She encourages you to get involved with AcademyHealth through the formation of student chapters which enhance the learning and professional development experience for students in health services research and health policy. Clare graduated from the George Washington University as a double major in Communication and Business. Contact her at

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