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VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention

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Description

Program Philosophy

Training Structure

Research Training

Clinical Training

Sample Goals

Eligibility/Apply MD/DO

Eligibility/Apply PhD

Points of Contact

Postdoctoral Fellowship Description

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The VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention (CoE) is home to a postdoctoral fellowship that is part of the VA’s Advanced Fellowship Program in Mental Illness Research and Treatment, sponsored by the VA Office of Academic Affairs. Our two-year program, the VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Veteran Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, is designed to prepare psychologists, physicians, and associated health professionals with the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience necessary to become leaders and innovators in suicide prevention research and education, as well as experts in Veteran mental health care. To accomplish this, we combine the rich research and education resources of the CoE and the affiliated University of Rochester Department of Psychiatry (URMC Psychiatry) with the unique clinical and crisis response programs at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center (CVAMC).

Our overarching research training goal is to prepare individuals for careers as independent clinical scientists. Through a rigorous two-year sequence of experiential training that includes individually-tailored mentoring, collaborative investigation, and seminars, fellows acquire a strong foundation of knowledge and skills in suicide prevention research. This includes the epidemiology of suicide and specialized research methods pertinent to the study of suicide, as well as the general skills necessary for successful academic career development.

Our primary clinical training goal is to provide fellows with a strong foundation of advanced clinical knowledge and skills necessary to become leaders and educators in adult mental health care and care of Veterans, with specific expertise in suicide prevention and intervention. Accordingly, fellows have numerous opportunities for focused clinical experiences with Veterans at elevated risk for suicide and/or their families. These Veteran populations include, but are not limited to, older Veterans; Veterans with depression, PTSD and other behavioral health conditions; and Veterans with substance use disorders and comorbid conditions.

One of our Center’s primary aims is the development of innovative suicide prevention training programs and the dissemination of new knowledge related to evidence-based suicide prevention strategies. Accordingly, fellows have opportunities to develop, implement, evaluate and disseminate suicide prevention training programs in collaboration with the Center’s Education and Dissemination staff. As well, fellows have opportunities to provide clinical supervision and consultation to junior trainees at CVAMC and to receive ‘supervision of supervision’ for these activities.

In addition to the training provided locally at the CoE, advanced training and professional development opportunities are available through the national VA Advanced Fellowship Hub Site in Palo Alto. Fellows participate twice monthly via teleconferencing in the comprehensive didactic series highlighting recent developments in psychological and psychiatric research. Fellows also are encouraged to participate in additional sessions focused on manuscript and grant-writing, as well as biostatistical consultation. Personnel at the Hub Site are available by appointment to facilitate other aspects of professional development, augmenting the local seminars and mentoring on these topics.

For more details, please visit the Advanced MIRECC/CoE Fellowship Website.

Psychologist applicants, please note that this program is non-accredited. For further information on accreditation status, contact:

Committee on Accreditation
c/o Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation Education Directorate
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
202-336-5679
TDD: 202-336-6123
Fax: 202-336-5978

Program Philosophy

The Postdoctoral Fellowship Program at the CoE and affiliated University of Rochester Department of Psychiatry offers early career psychologists, physicians, and associated health professionals advanced training in clinical research and the provision of mental health care to Veterans at risk for suicide. Our training program embraces a scientist-practitioner model preparing fellows for advanced practice in clinical psychology. We emphasize the development of advanced general clinical competencies and also offer additional training for the development of specific skills with Veteran populations at elevated risk for suicide, including but not limited to, older Veterans; Veterans with depression, PTSD or other mental health challenges; and Veterans with substance use disorders and comorbid conditions. As well, fellows have opportunities to work with at-risk Veterans facing health challenges such as chronic pain, sleep disorders, and other comorbid medical conditions.

We feature the rigorous translation of scientific findings into practice and the reciprocal shaping of scientific inquiry with clinical questions arising directly from the field. In order to maximize the synergy between scientific inquiry and informed clinical practice, fellows engage in supervised clinical work that is directly related to their chosen area of research focus. In addition to an integrated model of research and clinical training, we emphasize the importance of effective mentor-fellow relationships that foster the growth and eventual independence of early career scientists.

All training staff who provide clinical supervision are licensed clinical psychologists who are fully employed at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center or the VISN 2 Center of Excellence. All provide clinical services in the setting in which they are supervising. All have extensive training and expertise (most have completed substantial postdoctoral education) in their clinical service areas, and this expertise encompasses the provision of mental health services to Veteran populations at elevated risk for suicide, including but not limited to, older Veterans; Veterans with depression, PTSD or other mental health challenges; and Veterans with substance use disorders and comorbid conditions. As well, our supervisors have extensive expertise in working with at-risk Veterans facing health challenges such as chronic pain, sleep disorders, and other comorbid medical conditions.

Our training program philosophy and mission is also consistent with the Department of Veterans Affairs organizational priority to reduce suicide among our nation’s Veterans. The CoE was founded in 2007 as a prevention and research center that capitalizes on the strong track record of public-health oriented suicide research at the University of Rochester. Accordingly, our Center’s mission is “to integrate surveillance with intervention development through research to inform the implementation of effective Veteran suicide prevention strategies.” We work to achieve this mission through the following goals:

  • To continually enhance a leading edge suicide surveillance system
  • To Identify target populations and settings for future intervention
  • To shape the development of effective interventions
  • To develop suicide training programs and disseminate new knowledge related to prevention
  • To facilitate information exchange and collaboration to align our efforts with others

Consistent with the strategic vision of our Center, the fellowship program puts primary emphasis on population-based, public health approaches to suicide prevention in a vibrant interdisciplinary setting that fosters rich and creative collaborations with investigators and clinical supervisors from the fields of psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, social work, epidemiology, and health services.

Training Structure

Our program adheres to the overarching national mandate of the VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Mental Illness Research and Treatment—to train psychologists, physicians, and associated health professionals to become leading clinical researchers in high priorities of Veteran mental health. Within the context of generalist training, our program emphasizes the assessment and treatment of Veterans with mental disorders and behavioral health conditions that place them at elevated risk of suicide, through supervised experiences offered primarily at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center (CVAMC) and its community-based Rochester VA Outpatient Clinic (ROPC). A breadth and depth of training occurs through advanced clinical rotations and clinical research interactions with Veteran patient populations.

Over the course of the two-year program, fellows dedicate approximately 75% of their effort to clinical research and 25% to direct patient care and clinical consultation. A minimum of four hours of weekly research and clinical supervision are provided in individual and group formats. Our program emphasizes the assessment and treatment of Veteran populations at elevated risk for suicide, including but not limited to older Veterans; Veterans with depression, PTSD or other mental health challenges; and Veterans with substance use disorders and comorbid conditions. As well, fellows have opportunities to work with at-risk Veterans facing health challenges such as chronic pain, sleep disorders, and other comorbid medical conditions.

Per VA policy, trainees are given credit for 2,080 hours of training for each complete year. In some instances, the program may be extended for a third year to further develop advanced competencies in clinical research. Application for a third year is competitive, requiring formal application and subsequent approval by the VA Office of Academic Affiliations. For more details, please visit the Advanced MIRECC/CoE Fellowship Website

Research Training

Research training comprises approximately 75% of fellowship activities. During the course of their training, fellows will:

  • Develop awareness of pressing clinical research priorities within VA
  • Develop advanced skills in mental health research methodology and statistical analyses, scientific writing and presentation, and research ethics
  • Learn to navigate the landscape of career development awards

A central pillar of our program is the development of effective mentor-fellow relationships that foster the growth and eventual independence of early career scientists. This process begins during applicant interviews and is monitored by the Fellowship Director throughout the course of training, assuring that appropriate mentors are identified and that trainees develop independent areas of investigation over time. Trainees are expected to participate in research that progresses within their primary mentor’s laboratory or core, to gain experience with the practical, methodological, and conceptual issues of ongoing research. (See “Research Staff/Faculty” for a list of potential mentors and theme areas available to fellows.) Over time, fellows assume an independent, leading role in studies within their own area of interest. This process unfolds over a two-year time span, with a competitive third year reserved as needed and approved to achieve individual career development objectives.

The research training component of the fellowship also includes explicit expectations for knowledge and skill acquisition for which formal seminars and a rich series of conferences are provided by URMC Psychiatry, the Fellowship Hub Site, and the VISN 2 CoE.  The ‘mix’ and timing of activities is determined in part by the individualized learning/career development plan formulated at the beginning of the training year by fellows, in consultation with their mentors and the Fellowship Director. (Career development plans are re-evaluated and revised on a quarterly basis.) Training conferences include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • VA Advanced Fellowship Program, Hub Site Core Didactic Series (twice monthly teleconference; focuses on methods of scientific skill development and current topics in mental health research)
  • VA Advanced Fellowship Program, Hub Site Writing Workshops (twice monthly teleconference; focuses on grant/scientific writing)
  • URMC Psychiatry, Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide Meetings (twice monthly; focuses on suicide prevention research methods and current topics, includes opportunities for investigators at all levels of development to present their work, uses journal club format once per month)
  • CoE Investigators Meeting (twice monthly, provides an interactive forum for CoE investigators to share research ideas at all stages of development)
  • URMC Psychiatry, Research Skills Seminar (monthly, focuses on knowledge and skills in preparing grants, writing papers, presenting one’s work for peer review, providing peer review of others’ work, communicating feedback constructively)

Fellows are expected to meet or exceed explicit research productivity goals according to their level of scientific and career development. Within the first year of fellowship, fellows are expected to submit at least one paper to a peer-reviewed journal, present their work at a regional or national conference, and submit at least one IRB protocol. In the second year, fellows are expected to submit at least two papers for publication, deliver at least one regional/national presentation, complete an individualized leadership project with an administrative and/or educational focus, and submit at least one grant proposal.  (See “Sample Training Goals and Activities” for more information.)

Research Staff/Faculty:

Peter C. Britton, PhD is a research psychologist at the CoE and Assistant Professor of Psychology (Psychiatry) at the University of Rochester Medical Center. His career focuses on the development of preventive interventions tailored to Veterans at risk for suicide. Dr. Britton received a VA Career Development Award to develop a program of research examining the use of motivational interviewing to prevent suicide in psychiatrically hospitalized Veterans.

Eric D. Caine, MD, Chair, URMC Department of Psychiatry and Co-Director of the URMC Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide, has deep experience in the evaluation, management, and aftercare of acutely suicidal individuals. Dr. Caine recently was a member of the Task Force charged with reformulating the National Strategy of Suicide Prevention, a subgroup of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and now co-chairs its “Impact Group,” which will track the effects of the new strategy on national rates of suicide.  Currently he directs the CDC-funded Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention (ICRC-S), the only such center in the United States devoted to suicide prevention.  Its mission is to merge injury prevention and mental health perspectives to forge new public health, community-oriented approaches to preventing suicide, attempted suicide, and their antecedent risks.

Kenneth R. Conner, PsyD, MPH, is Professor of Emergency Medicine at URMC, and Co-Director of the URMC Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide. Current funded research includes two randomized controlled trials to use a phone-based cognitive-behavioral intervention to promote behavioral health treatment initiation in select groups of at-risk Veterans and a multisite epidemiological study to examine warning signs for suicide attempts in hospitalized Veterans.   

Yeates Conwell, MD, Professor and Vice Chair of URMC Psychiatry, is Co-Director of the Fellowship Program and Co-Director of the URMC Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide. The primary foci of his work for the past 25 years have been the study of suicide and its prevention, and the training of the suicide prevention research workforce. He has been PI or Co-PI of three NIMH funded R01s, an NIH-funded P20 (developing center on suicide prevention research), an R24 (interventions and practice research infrastructure grant from NIMH), and a CDC-funded U01, as well as other numerous smaller grants from NIH and foundations. His work takes a distinctly public health and populations orientation, seeking to link community-based social services with primary care and mental health services providers as a means of reducing suicide-related morbidity and mortality, particularly in older adults. He has been centrally involved in development of web-based tools to support suicide research career development, and he was PI of an NIMH-funded project to apply those tools to the development of a nationwide mentoring network for early career investigators from under-represented backgrounds.

Wendi Cross, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology) at URMC, is an education specialist and researcher at the VISN CoE. Her research is translational in nature and part of the growing focus on implementation science. She is expert in developing and using observational measures of implementer fidelity in the delivery of evidence-based interventions and is Director of the Observational Research and Behavioral Information Technology Laboratory (ORBIT) which supports research involving media and audio-visual stimuli and observational data. She also completed an NIMH-supported Implementation Research Institute Fellowship (2011-2013) and has collaborated on several studies on fidelity measures, observational methods, and implementation monitoring.

Stephanie Gamble, PhD is an education specialist and researcher at the CoE, and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology) at URMC.  She is a clinical psychologist whose research and training interests focus on improving care for individuals with co-occurring substance use disorders and depression – a population at high risk for suicide and suicide attempts. With funding from a NIAAA Career Development Award, she recently completed a randomized controlled trial investigating the adjunctive effects of Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) among depressed, alcohol dependent women in outpatient chemical dependency treatment.  Dr. Gamble provides training and supervision in IPT to Psychiatry residents and interns. As part of the URMC Dean’s Teaching Fellowship, she has also developed and begun to evaluate a co-occurring disorders curriculum based on the SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment) model.  In her role within the CoE, Dr. Gamble provides mentorship to fellows in areas related to program evaluation, behavioral treatment research, gender-focused interventions, and treatments for co-occurring substance use disorders and depression. 

Deborah A. King, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology) and Associate Chair for Education in the URMC Department of Psychiatry, is Director of Fellowship Training at the CoE. She has served as PI and/or project director on multiple federally funded training and research grants. As Director of Geriatric Psychiatry Services at URMC, her research and scholarship focuses on late-life depression and suicide, as well as interventions for families of older adults. Her work at the CoE includes the design, implementation, and evaluation of suicide prevention training programs for older Veterans.

Kerry L. Knox, PhD, is Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Epidemiology) and a senior investigator at the CoE. Her longitudinal program of research focuses on the epidemiology and prevention of suicide in active duty military and Veteran populations. As PI on two completed NIMH-funded grants, and a third currently funded R01, her work is focused on a longitudinal study in the U.S. Air Force, where she is developing and applying novel methodological approaches to study the effectiveness of a multi-faceted suicide prevention program. Dr. Knox is Co-PI on one Department of Defense grant in both active duty military and Veterans; she is Co-I on a newly funded Department of Defense grant that focuses on active duty military personnel. She also is funded by NIMH to conduct a large epidemiological study of VA’s 24/7 Crisis Line.  Dr. Knox has a strong history of teaching and mentoring masters level students in public health, PhD students in epidemiology and health services research, and postdoctoral students receiving focused training in research in suicide through an NIH funded T32 grant.

Jill Lavigne, PhD, MPH, is Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Administration at the Wegmans School of Pharmacy, St John Fisher College and an investigator at the CoE.  A health services researcher by training, Dr. Lavigne’s research takes a population and quantitative focus.  Her research interests include pharmacoepidemiology (the comparative safety of multiple drug regimens), innovative care and financing models in community practice, and educational assessment.  She is most recently focusing on methods to best communicate to prescribers, patients and families the uncertainty posed by medications labelled for risk of suicidal ideation and behavior.  Dr. Lavigne is the co-PI on an NIH-funded contract (2015-2020) to develop video-based case studies in pain management and addiction prevention for early health professions students, including the case of a Veteran.

Brooke A. Levandowski, PhD, MPA, is an investigator at the VISN 2 CoE and Research Assistant Professor (Family Medicine) at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY. Dr. Levandowski is a mixed-methods epidemiologist whose primary research interests involve how women make health decisions within cultural, socioeconomic, and sociodemographic influences. In her role within the CoE, Dr. Levandowski collaborates on evaluating the Behavioral Health Autopsy Program, and research involving improved safety planning with Veterans and the role of Patient Aligned Care Teams in suicide prevention. She has a vested interest in improving access to suicide prevention interventions among Women Veterans.

Wilfred R. Pigeon, PhD is Center and Research Director at the CoE and an investigator for the VA Center for Integrated Healthcare (CIH). His VA and Department of Defense (DoD) funded research is focused on brief interventions (behavioral activation, brief insomnia interventions, brief mindfulness-based approaches, and telephone based behavioral therapies) for high-risk Veteran populations, as well as primary care-based efforts and interventions to prevent suicidal behaviors. Dr. Pigeon is a licensed clinical psychologist with a certification in behavioral sleep medicine. As an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at URMC and Director of the URMC Sleep & Neuropsychology Research Lab, Dr. Pigeon’s NIH and industry-funded research focuses on the mechanisms, consequences and treatment of sleep disturbance. He has also chaired or been a member of several national work groups and task forces. 

Kim Van Orden, PhD is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center. She is a clinical psychologist and her research addresses the role of social connectedness in the etiology and prevention of late-life suicide. She is co-author of the book, The Interpersonal Theory of Suicide: Guidance for Working with Suicidal Clients. She is the Project Director of and Co-Investigator on a CDC-funded randomized trial of peer companionship for older adults.  She is currently awarded a career development award from NIMH to study the psychosocial mechanisms whereby Interpersonal Psychotherapy reduces suicide risk in older adults.

Clinical Training

Direct patient care comprises approximately 25% of fellowship activities and occurs at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center (CVAMC) and/or the affiliated Rochester VA Outpatient Clinic (ROPC). We emphasize the development of general and advanced clinical competencies, as well as the development of specific skills within the area of suicide prevention and intervention.

At the beginning of the training year, fellows are invited to choose rotation(s) in clinical programs that serve Veterans at heightened risk of suicide and are directly related to their research interests. Training settings and populations include, but are not limited to:

Services for older Veterans:

  • Community Living Centers (CLCs) are nursing home-type settings at CVAMC that include traditional long-term and short-term care units (greater than/less than 90 days), as well as a specialized dementia unit. Depending on professional discipline and interests, fellows have an opportunity to conduct neuropsychological or neuropsychiatric assessments and consultations, as well as psychotherapy and pharmacologic treatment for depression and other disorders. Interdisciplinary care planning is an important part of this training setting.
  • Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) Clinics at CVAMC and ROPC provide an interdisciplinary approach to multidimensional assessment of the older Veteran.  Fellows have an opportunity to conduct psychological/neuropsychological or neuropsychiatric/medical assessments of Veterans with complex medical and social problems.
  • Home-Based Primary Care (HBPC) Teams provide comprehensive, interdisciplinary, primary care in the homes of Veterans with complex medical, social and behavioral conditions for whom routine clinic-based care is not effective. Fellows have opportunities to conduct comprehensive assessments and deliver brief, evidence-based psychotherapies for depression and other problems. Depending on professional discipline, fellows may also provide psychopharmacologic consultation and treatment.

Services for Veterans with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other behavioral health challenges are delivered in a variety of settings at both CVAMC and ROPC. In addition to those listed above serving older Veterans, these services include:

  • Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinics offering evidenced-based treatments for a variety of conditions; e.g., cognitive behavioral treatment for depression and anxiety. In addition to direct patient care, fellows may provide behavioral health consultation to staff in primary care and other programs. According to their interests and goals, fellows may also provide time-limited cognitive behavioral therapy for a variety of other conditions associated with heightened risk for suicide, including behavioral sleep disorders and pain.
  • PTSD Teams at both Canandaigua and Rochester sites offer evidence-based treatments for PTSD and military sexual trauma (e.g., cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure), as well as consultation to staff in other programs.

 
Services for Veterans with substance use disorders and other comorbid conditions: 

  • The Psychosocial Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program (PRRTP) and Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program (DRRTP) are residential treatment programs at CVAMC for Veterans with substance use disorders and related behavioral health conditions, including depression, PTSD and anxiety. Many of these patients are homeless and present with a variety of psychosocial challenges that are addressed by multidisciplinary treatment teams. Fellows have an opportunity to apply a variety of approaches in group and individual evidence-based modalities including motivational interviewing; cognitive behavior therapy for depression, anxiety and/or relapse prevention; and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Interested fellows may gain experience with program development and/or consultation.
  • Substance Abuse Outpatient Services are offered at both CVAMC and ROPC. As above, depending on training background, fellows have an opportunity to engage in a variety of evidence-based psychosocial and psychopharmacologic treatments in both settings, as well as opportunities to consult with other professionals regarding a particular area of expertise.

Crisis- and grief-oriented programs. Consistent with our Center’s focus on suicide prevention, fellows have opportunities for exposure to the following unique programs:

  • The National Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) and Chat Service provides 24/7 crisis assistance to Veterans, Service Members, and their families. Since its inception in July 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has received over one million calls and initiated over 37,000 rescues. The Veterans Chat, an online, one-to-one “chat service” for Veterans who prefer reaching out for assistance using the internet, has received over 160,000 active chat visits since its inception in July 2009. All fellows have opportunity for exposure to this unique service through ‘shadowing’ experiences. Interested fellows who choose to have a more in-depth clinical rotation will receive training in state-of-the-art crisis response services and gain experience linking Veterans to care via the national network of Suicide Prevention Coordinators stationed at every VAMC across the nation.
  • The Behavioral Health Autopsy Program (BHAP). All fellows participate in this unique program whereby staff from the VISN 2 CoE reach out via telephone to survivors of suicide referred by suicide prevention coordinators stationed at VA medical centers across the nation. Fellows are trained to use a structured clinical interview that is designed to be supportive in nature, but also informative about factors related to increased suicidality in our nation’s Veterans. Fellows spend approximately 2 hours per week in this activity, although more experience is available depending on interest.

Clinical Staff/Faculty:

Matthew J. Barry, DO, is Lead Psychiatrist at the Rochester VA Outpatient Clinic and Senior Clinical Instructor of Psychiatry at URMC. He is well-versed in curriculum development and implementation at the postgraduate level, having co-developed a psychology training elective while stationed at Fort Drum and serving currently as director of the VA PTSD psychiatry residency elective at URMC.

James T. Bridges, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist and Lead Psychologist at the Canandaigua VAMC. As program psychologist in the Canandaigua VAMC “Transitions” Program, he provides evidence-based individual and group treatments in both residential and outpatient settings to Veterans dealing with addictions, homelessness, and mental illness.  His special interests include program design, implementation, and oversight; personality assessment and treatment planning (from the “therapeutic assessment and feedback” perspective); a range of empirically-validated psychotherapies and treatments; and training at the fellow, intern, and masters level. 

Claudiu Dumitrescu, PsyD is a licensed clinical psychologist and Director of Psychology Training at the Canandaigua VAMC. He also is the psychologist/neuropsychologist for the Canandaigua Geriatric Extended Care Line, where his professional interests include working with patients with TBI, psychiatric disorders and various neurological disorders. He is an active clinical supervisor, educator, and career mentor for fellows.

Denise L. Henderson, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and lead PTSD-SUD Specialist at the Rochester VA Outpatient Clinic. She works predominantly with Veterans who are struggling with both PTSD (military or civilian) and substance use disorders. Areas of interest include motivational interviewing (MI), evidence-based treatments and providing clinical training/supervision to fellows and psychology interns. Dr. Henderson is a certified provider for MI, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders (CBT-SUD), and has extensive experience with evidence-based group treatment programs (e.g. Seeking Safety, Anger Management - SAMHSA model).

Kimberley L. Mullen, PhD is a clinical care coordinator for the Veterans Crisis Line.  She oversees the clinical training and supervision of over 250 Crisis Line responders, and will serve as a supervisor of psychology fellows who train on the Veterans Crisis Line, including the Crisis Line’s Veterans Chat and Text services.  A licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Mullen completed her predoctoral internship and some postdoctoral work at the Denver VA Medical Center where she became interested in suicidal behavior among Veterans.

Aurelian Niculescu, MD is a clinical supervisor for psychiatry fellows and a potential research co-mentor.  He is a psychiatrist board certified in both general psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry. He completed his residency and fellowship at URMC, and currently serves as a staff psychiatrist at ROPC and CVAMC.

Matthew M. Tessena, DO, Clinical Assistant Professor at URMC, serves as clinical supervisor for MD and select PhD fellows. He is board certified in both general psychiatry and addiction medicine.  He is the Medical Director of the Substance Use Disorder Program at CVAMC which provides both residential and outpatient care to Veterans and includes a buprenorphine program.    He has mentored multiple psychiatric residents at URMC, where he has been a teaching attending on the inpatient psychiatric service and psychiatric emergency room.  His clinical interests include treating patients with substance use disorders co-morbid with anxiety and mood disorders.

Gary Warner, PhD, neuropsychologist at CVAMC and URMC Clinical Instructor of Medicine and Psychiatry, supervises fellows in geriatric medicine and geropsychology, as well as doctoral psychology interns at the CVAMC. He recently completed a three year follow-up study involving neuroimaging, psychological and neuropsychological assessment of returning war Veterans.

Sample Training Goals and Activities

Year 1 — Research:

  • Participate in twice monthly research meetings at the University of Rochester (UR) with investigators from the Center of Excellence (CoE) and the UR Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide (CSPS)
  • Participate in monthly UR Research Skills Seminar
  • Obtain human subjects research certification through VA and UR
  • Collaborate with primary research mentor on mentor’s ongoing project(s)
  • Develop independent research focus and goals
  • Submit first IRB protocol and begin collecting data
  • Present at least one paper or poster at scientific conference
  • Submit at least one manuscript (as 1st author) for publication

Year 1 — Clinical:

  • Select clinical rotation(s) directly pertinent to primary area of research focus 
  • Demonstrate familiarity with literature on evidence-based care for population(s) of interest

     

  • Depending on prior experience with selected population/setting, move from initial shadowing experience to increasingly autonomous provision of direct patient care
  • Depending on prior experience and interests, begin to provide clinical consultation and/or teaching to other staff, junior peers

Year 1 — Professional Development:

  • Participate in monthly CoE Postdoctoral Fellowship Seminar
  • Present work at CoE investigators meeting and UR CSPS meeting
  • Formulate an individualized career development plan with mentor that is reviewed with Fellowship Director and revised on a quarterly basis
  • Prepare and revise a biosketch, including a statement of research interests and focus
  • Begin to formulate plan for individualized leadership project with educational and/or administrative focus
  • Psychology fellows only: Prepare for EPPP

Year 2 — Research:

  • Continue active participation in monthly research meetings, including presentation of one’s own independent work
  • Present at least one paper or poster at scientific conference in area of primary research focus
  • Submit at least two papers (at least one as 1st author) for publication in area of primary research focus
  • Prepare and submit a grant application (e.g., pilot project, mentored VA Career Development Award, K Award)

Year 2 — Clinical:

  • Refine advanced clinical skills in area pertinent to primary research focus
  • Provide expert clinical consultation and/or teaching to other staff, peers
  • Supervise junior trainees and obtain ‘supervision of supervision’

     

Year 2 — Professional Development:

  • Continue active participation in and/or co-leadership of CoE Postdoctoral Fellowship Seminar
  • Present one’s work on a regular basis in CoE investigators meeting, CSPS meeting
  • Contribute actively to seminar for psychology interns at Canandaigua VA Medical Center
  • Refine individualized career plan on a quarterly basis
  • Complete an individualized leadership project with educational and/or administrative focus
  • Psychology fellows only: Complete EPPP and prepare for licensure
  • Conduct job search and secure full-time employment

Eligibility & Application Procedures for MD/DO Applicants

Prospective MD or DO applicants must have completed a residency accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and be board certified or board eligible in their medical specialty by the time they begin fellowship training.

Once enrolled in the fellowship, MD/DOs must dedicate full time effort to professional activities of which a minimum of 50% must be as a postdoctoral fellow. Hiring flexibility is available with potential options of part-time appointments at a number of sites that together with a part-time postdoctoral commitment constitute full time work.

The VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention is committed to seeking and sustaining a culturally and ethnically diverse work environment. The training program adheres to, and makes available to all interested parties, formal written policies and procedures that govern trainee selection; academic preparation requirements; administration and financial assistance; trainee performance evaluation and feedback; advisement, retention, termination, due process and grievance redress for trainees and training supervisors/mentors. The training program complies with other VA policies and procedures that pertain to supervisors' and trainees' rights, responsibilities, and professional development. The United States government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex/including pregnancy and gender identity, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service or other non-merit factor.

To apply submit the following materials by e-mail (where possible) to Dr. Yeates Conwell, Co-Director of Fellowship Training:

  • Cover letter/letter of intent describing how your career goals and interests are aligned with the mission and fellowship training opportunities of the VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention
  • Detailed curriculum vitae describing background training and relevant experience
  • Three letters of recommendation sent directly from previous supervisors/mentors. One letter must be from the director of residency training for your program
  • Official medical school transcript sent directly from your university. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable until official transcripts arrive

Applications received by January 6th will receive priority review although recruitment may continue until all positions are filled.

Eligibility & Application Procedures for PhD Applicants

Prospective PhD applicants must be U.S. citizens and have completed doctoral degree requirements from an APA-accredited program in clinical or counseling psychology, as well as an APA-accredited doctoral internship in psychology.

The CoE is committed to seeking and sustaining a culturally and ethnically diverse work environment. The training program adheres to, and makes available to all interested parties, formal written policies and procedures that govern trainee selection; internship and academic preparation requirements; administration and financial assistance; trainee performance evaluation and feedback; advisement, retention, termination, due process and grievance redress for trainees and training supervisors/mentors. The training program complies with other VA policies and procedures that pertain to supervisors’ and trainees’ rights, responsibilities, and professional development. The United States government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service or other non-merit factor.

To apply, PhD applicants must submit the following materials by e-mail (where possible) to Dr. Deborah King, Director of Fellowship Training:

  • Cover letter/letter of intent describing how your career goals and interests are aligned with the mission and fellowship training opportunities of the CoE
  • Detailed curriculum vitae describing background training and experience, description of internship, and other scholarly activity/research
  • Three letters of recommendation sent directly from previous supervisors/mentors. One letter must be from the Director of Training of your APA-accredited doctoral internship
  • Official graduate transcript sent directly from your university. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable until official transcripts arrive

Applications received by January 6th will receive priority review although recruitment may continue until all positions are filled.

Points of Contact

Deborah A. King, PhD
Director of Fellowship Training
VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention
Canandaigua VA Medical Center
Canandaigua, NY 14424
Phone: 585-393-7950
Email: deborah_king@urmc.rochester.edu

Yeates Conwell, MD
Co-Director of Fellowship Training
VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention
Canandaigua VA Medical Center
Canandaigua, NY 14424
Phone: 585-393-7945
Email: yeates_conwell@urmc.rochester.edu

Kathleen Vishneski
Fellowship Training Coordinator
VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention
Canandaigua VA Medical Center
Canandaigua, NY 14424
Phone: 585-393-7945
Email: kathleen.vishneski@va.gov

 

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