Program participants will consist of teams of 2-3 professionals who will collaborate on a common transformational health improvement project. Project teams will be led by an Advanced Practice Provider (APP).

For the purposes of this program, APP is a general title used to describe non-physician providers who have completed the advanced education and training that qualifies them to (1) manage medical problems and (2) prescribe and manage treatments within the scope of their training. By conventional standards, Advanced Practice Nurses and Physician Assistants tend to be the most recognized types of APPs by many health care organizations in the United States.  For this unique leadership training program, other types of APPs (e.g., LCSW, MFT, OT, PharmD, PT) also may be considered for the role of team project lead if their role and contribution to the project aligns with the responsibilities of the team lead.

Team Leads: An APP who can attend all required program activities and assume responsibility for ensuring that their project team members meet all program requirements.

Team Partners: Consists of 1-2 health professional colleagues collaborating with the team lead on a health improvement project and who can fulfill program requirements. Team partners can be from diverse health care and other community health disciplines and professions, including health education, medicine, nursing, social work, pharmacy, radiography, administration and more. Professionals who work in diverse community sectors that impact social drivers of health (e.g., education, housing, transportation, food security, criminal justice), are also welcome to participate.   The composition of the team should be driven by the needs of the proposed health improvement project and partners who can help make the project vision become a reality.

For more information, refer to Who Should Apply.

Health Improvement Projects 

Developing and executing a quality or population health improvement project during the course of the program year is an opportunity for healthcare teams to:

  • Employ leadership and management skills and concepts learned throughout the program
  • Make a practical and sustainable short-term step towards a future in health and well-being that inspires them
  • Implement clinical, education, and/or advocacy innovations that will, ideally, impact at least one of the following outcome domains.

  • Cultivate Workplace Culture of Wellbeing. Promote a nurturing environment that is diverse, inclusive, and where everyone is deeply connected
  • Advance Health Equity. Establish health equity as the foundation of quality to promote the health and well-being of communities and address social drivers of health.
  • Promote Clinical Excellence. Design and deliver high value patient-centered, community-focused care, driven by scientific innovation, clinical best practices, and a culture of compassion.
  • Build Integrated Care Networks. Build integrated care networks through diverse community partnerships to provide more seamless and comprehensive care for patients
  • Leverage Digital Technology. Design or utilize innovative digital health technology to improve access and utilization of needed health care and promotion services.


A wide variety of quality or population health improvement projects can meet program requirements. In addition to long-standing matters that teams wish to improve, in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we also welcome project proposals that focus on response efforts for organizations, patients and communities. The appropriateness of project proposals will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and the program office will work with fellows to ensure that any project undertaken fulfills program criteria. Examples of those criteria include:

  • Projects must be undertaken with a partnering organization/agency and involve some element of collaboration and accountability.
  • Projects should be developed, implemented and evaluated with appropriate stakeholder engagement and through a lens of DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) promotion.
  • Projects may be already in progress, or may be a new piece of a larger, ongoing initiative, provided that the project is still early enough in implementation or dissemination for the team to employ and strengthen leadership and management skills gained during the year.
  • Projects should be designed to have measurable outcomes that are detailed in a well-developed and appropriate evaluation plan, which includes both process and outcomes measures and articulation of short, mid and long-term measurable goals. Program sessions will be held to assist teams with developing appropriate evaluation plans.

Circle of Support

Throughout the program year, each Duke APPLI team will benefit from a circle of support to move its project vision to reality.  This support and consultative network includes:

  • Collaboration with an employer organization or other partner agency
  • Consulting monthly with a Project Coaching Circle that includes an advisor, program staff and other project teams to help support efforts of project development, implementation and evaluation


Sample Project Topics:

In addition to fostering their own leadership and management capabilities, past program projects have positively impacted their organizations and the communities they serve. Some topics from past team projects include:

  • Respiratory Season in the Context of COVID19: A Toolkit for Surge Times
  • Improving Advanced Practice Provider Well-being & Resiliency within an Academic Medical Center
  • Standardization of STD Screening in Adolescents at a School Based Health Center
  • Pathway to Assessing Interprofessional Collaboration Readiness in NC AHEC Affiliated Sites
  • Diabetes Management in an Underserved Population
  • Promoting Excellence of Leadership in Rural Critical Access Hospitals
  • Choosing Wisely: An Initiative to Reduce Daily Labs in the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit
  • Implementation of a Competency-based Telehealth Curriculum Across a Graduate Nursing Program
  • Integrating the Role of a Perinatal Care Coordinator into a Program for Women with Substance Use Disorders
  • Reducing Readmission Rates for Heart Failure Patients with Use of Telehealth
  • Increasing Advanced Care Planning Conversations within a Home-Based Complex  Chronic Program using Nurse Practitioners and Social Workers