Health Innovations Scholar Program

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. 

Using tools from LEAN, design-thinking, and change management, 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 is an intensive, 4-week summer experience for medical students in any year, which accelerates mastery of the skills necessary to be a strong physician leader and healthcare innovator.  We select students who are in any year of medical school via a competitive application process. Program participants will receive a stipend for their time. All program activities are located on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO.

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.

Through classroom learning, hands-on projects, intensive mentorship, and shadowing in the hospital, program graduates will learn to:

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

Students who have participated in HISP from 2013—2023 have engaged in experiential project work across multiple clinical settings. Examples of these past projects include:

  • Working with the Stroke Unit to improve the quality, efficiency, and patient-centeredness of the discharge process for ischemic stroke patients
  • Improving the processes for patients transferred from other hospitals
  • Supporting an accountable care unit model to improve quality outcomes
  • Enhancing the discharge process to be more patient-centered

2024 Program dates will be July 8th - August 2nd

The stipend we are offering for HISP 2024 is $3,000 per participant.  We will be accepting up to 6 students.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: March 15th, 2024 at 5:00pm MST
How to Apply:

1. Email the following your current resume (1-2 pages) to Kelsey Keil at using the subject line of "HISP 2024 Application - [Your Full Name]"


2. Complete the online application form


If you have any questions please email ​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 or any fees associated with visas.

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 the program manager 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 may 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 students receive a stipend?

Yes, students receive a $3,000 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 and a final celebration dinner.

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. 



Sam Porter is the Director of HISP. He is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Hospital Medicine at the University of Colorado and serves as the Director of Service Line Quality for Hospital Medicine as well as the Director of the Medical Leadership Pathway for the Internal Medicine Residency.

Associate Director

Michelle Knees, DO completed internal medicine residency training, with a focus on hospital systems and health equity, at the University of Colorado in 2021. She spent an additional year as Chief Resident of Quality and Patient Safety at the Rocky Mountain Regional VA, where she helped lead residency and hospital-wide quality and patient safety initiatives. She now works for the Division of Hospital Medicine at the University of Colorado as an academic hospitalist. She also works with the Institute for Healthcare Quality, Safety, and Efficiency to coach multidisciplinary quality and process improvement projects.

Associate Director

Dr. Anusha Raja is a board-certified Internal Medicine physician. She has worked with multidisciplinary teams to improve clinical practices for patients through her work in the Quality Improvement and Physician Leadership Distinction at Yale New Haven Hospital. Dr. Raja also serves as VP of Operations for Playbl, a health tech startup that aims to prevent risky health behaviors in youth through evidence-based videogames. She is excited to draw on her background in health innovation and design thinking to teach quality improvement practices. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the beautiful state of Colorado with her baby and husband. 

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