Program Background


The Health Innovations Scholar Program (HISP) is an intensive training program for medical students who seek to lead innovative transformation of American healthcare. Though advances in science, technology, and models of collaboration promise continued discovery and improvement in human health, the care systems designed to bring benefits to patients do not live up to their potential.  Medical school typically does not provide the knowledge or skills necessary to drive reinvention of healthcare systems. 

The students who have participated in HISP from 2013—2019 have engaged in experiential work across multiple clinical settings. Examples of these past projects include: 1) Working with the Stroke Unit to improve the quality, efficiency, and patient-centeredness of the discharge process for ischemic stroke patients, 2) Improving the processes for patients transferred from other hospitals, and 3) Supporting an accountable care unit model to improve quality outcomes. 

Using tools from LEAN, design-thinking, and change management, the students analyze the existing workflows, identify targets for improvement, and work with stakeholders to enact changes. These projects each lead to meaningful improvements at the University of Colorado, which were presented to high level stakeholders across the respective departments, and sustainable initiatives to improve care delivery!


HISP aims to produce leaders who are prepared to beneficially reinvent the healthcare system. Utilizing the core principles and practices of the hospital medicine movement, our program creates a cadre of future leaders, who can transform the quality, safety, efficiency, and patient experience in healthcare.

HISP is an intensive, 4-week summer experience for medical students from medical schools across the country, which accelerates mastery of the skills necessary to be a strong physician leader and healthcare innovator. The dates for 2020 are July 1st - July 30th, 2020. We select students who are in any year of medical school via a competitive application process. Through classroom learning, hands-on projects, intensive mentorship, and shadowing in the hospital, program graduates will learn to:

  1. Observe the practice of high-value, evidence-based hospital medicine 
  2. Explore effective models for creating and developing teams in the healthcare setting
  3. Identify effective leadership strategies that can drive change within complex systems
  4. Design projects that lead to improvements in quality, safety, and efficiency in existing clinical systems
  5. Utilize design-based methods to envision new models of care centered on meeting patients’ needs

    Program participants will receive a stipend for their time. All program activities are located on the Anschutz Medical Campus at University of Colorado, Denver.​


    If you have any questions please email Program Coordinator Cayleigh Brown at​




If interested in applying to the 2020 session held July 1st - July 30th, 2020 please follow the instructions below. The deadline for submitting your application is Sunday March 1st, 2020 at 11:59pm MST. Applicants will be notified by early March, no later than March 18th. 

​Please follow the below instructions to apply for the program:


1) Email the following (2) required documents as (2) separate PDFs to Program Manager Cayleigh Brown at using the subject line of "HISP 2020 Application - [Your Full Name]":

           A) Your current resume (1-2 pages)

           B) Contact information for at least (2) references 

2) Complete the online application form  ​here

If you have any questions please email Cayleigh Brown at

​Health Innovations Scholars Program candidates will be selected based on interest in systems improvement and innovation, potential to become a physician leader and evidence of strong interpersonal skills. ​​





Are students accepted to the program on a rolling basis?

No. You can apply any time before the application deadline, but we do not review applications until after​ the deadline.

Is this program open to all students attending different medical schools, during any year of medical school?

Yes, any medical student who has the availability to join us on campus at the University of Colorado during the month of July, is able to attend. We accept students from all across the country, as well as internationally. However, please keep in mind we do not pay for travel costs to/from the program.

What kind of students do you look for or typically are accepted?

Generally, no two students are alike. Each year we try to look for a well-rounded group of scholars who have strong interpersonal skills, will be successful in a team setting and have interest in quality improvement, leadership training, and systems redesign.

Would it be possible to speak with a former student before applying?

Sure! If you email Cayleigh Brown at and let her know, she would be able to try and reach out to some of our past scholars so you can ask them questions.

What does the application process look like? When will I be notified of acceptance/denial into the program?

After you apply you will receive an email notice that we received your application. We review all applications throughout the month after the application deadline date. If you make it into our top selection of finalists, we will contact you to have a 15-min phone conversation to discuss your goals and interests more. We try to notify all applicants of acceptance/denial within 5 weeks of the application deadline date.

Do I need to provide letters of recommendation from the references I provide? Is there any preference on who I include as my references?

Nope, you don’t need to have a letter, just provide the contact information for your reference. It’s entirely up to you who you would like to include!


Do students receive a stipend?

Yes, students receive a $2,000 stipend. The stipend is paid at the end of the program if the student completes and participates in all aspects of the program.

What is reimbursed to me for this program?

Unfortunately, we do not reimburse you for travel costs to/from the program, your housing, or your meals. If you choose to take public transportation throughout the program, we do not reimburse those costs or reimburse for gas used to get to/from campus. We do provide you with about 4-5 meals during your time here, a final celebration dinner, and a day retreat.

Do these projects publish any papers/posters?

Yes. These projects will lead to improvements in quality, safety, and efficiency in existing clinical systems. In the past, students have been able to submit abstracts and present their work as a poster at select conferences as well as publish papers. 

If I am accepted to the program, do I need to attend the program the entire month?

Yes. We have a strict policy that you are required to participate daily in all activities (M-F; 8-5pm). Generally, you are given the weekends off but there might be an occasional event during the evenings. Students who do not attend or participate with the group to complete the project will not receive their stipend at the end of the program.

What kind of day-to-day work will I be doing during the program?

As one of the HISP students you’ll be involved in many different things including: didactic work, a large group project that is presented to hospital administration and other stakeholders, networking with like-minded students and providers and an ongoing alumni program. The program will kick-off with "classroom time" including sessions about leadership, quality improvement, systems design/redesign and patient safety. Once your project work begins, most of your day-to-day time will be focused on gathering data, analysis, and putting together the final presentation. We also coordinate social events throughout the program.

If I am accepted to the program, do you provide housing for the program?

No, housing is not provided during your stay here. It is the student’s responsibility to set up and find a place to live for the month. We recommend reaching out to other CU medical students or checking websites (HomeAway, Airbnb,, Roomster, Zillow, Craigslist). Some HISP students have even found places together to rent as a group.

If I am accepted to the program, do you have recommendations on where to live near the campus?

Although the campus is in Aurora, you may want to focus your search in the Denver metropolitan area to make your stay more enjoyable with things to do. Denver metro is approximately 20-30 minutes from campus so keep in mind it generally requires a car/bus/lightrail for transportation. Some of our past students have lived in Congress Park, Capitol Hill, RiNo, Lowry/Stapleton. The lightrail system did add a stop here at campus, so this is another option to travel if you find a place further from the campus, or some students have taken the bus.  You can check out the RTD maps to plan on where you would want to live. 

How is the project topic chosen for the year? Is it faculty driven or does the cohort for that year get to choose? 

The project topic is mainly faculty driven and also based upon current project improvement/QI projects that are currently taking place or have surfaced at the hospital. Typically our Directors choose a project that will be most useful for your time here and what can be accomplished within 1 month. Each year the project varies! Some years we are able to have a few different options and are able to give the cohort an option, however, sometimes it's limited by what is happening and stakeholder involvement.