Rocky Mountain MIRECC VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Suicide Prevention - Denver - MIRECC / CoE
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Rocky Mountain MIRECC VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Suicide Prevention - Denver

Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention

Updated: 27 September 2019

Overview

Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention Mission and Vision

The mission of the Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention is to study suicide with the goal of reducing suicidal ideation and behaviors in the Veteran population. Towards this end, the work of the Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention is focused on promising clinical interventions, as well as the cognitive and neurobiological underpinnings of suicidal thoughts and behaviors that may lead to innovative prevention strategies.

The vision of the Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention is: Veterans, their families, and the VHA will have increased information and options to make health decisions aimed at decreasing suicide risk.

The Rocky Mountain MIRECC Suicide Prevention Fellowship Program

The Rocky Mountain MIRECC Suicide Prevention Fellowship program is encompassed within a larger, national Fellowship Program, the VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Mental Illness Research and Treatment, which is sponsored by the Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA). The MIRECCs, along with Centers of Excellence (COEs) and Serious Mental Illness Treatment Research and Evaluation Centers (SMITRECs) located throughout the country, were established by Congress with the "goal of researching the causes and treatments of mental disorders and using education to put new knowledge into routine clinical practice in the VA."

Our full-time 2-year postdoctoral program employs a scientist-practitioner model. With guidance from Clinical Supervisors, a Research Mentor, and input/support from the Training Director, Fellows develop an individualized training plan designed to facilitate the transition from internship to entry-level professional in this two-year program. Fellows spend, at a minimum, 10-15 hours weekly in direct clinical service delivery (encompassing evidence-based psychotherapy and suicide risk assessment and consultation) and 10-15 hours of protected time devoted to clinical research in suicide prevention related activities (encompassing clinical research with participants, research meetings, grant/manuscript writing, and administrative tasks).

These activities are carried out within the setting of a large and diverse VA.. The work of the Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention is focused on promising clinical interventions, as well as the cognitive and neurobiological underpinnings of suicidal thoughts and behaviors that may lead to innovative prevention/postvention strategies.

The Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention postdoctoral fellowship is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) Commission on Accreditation.

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Training Model Highlights

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Psychology training at the Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention Fellowship program is based on the scientist-practitioner model. Our clinical training follows an “observe, engage, lead/supervise” paradigm in which Fellows begin to acquire clinical competencies often through observing their supervisors, engaging in relevant clinical activities with intensive and developmentally-appropriate supervision, and progressing to a more independent level of practice, ultimately leading/teaching or supervising others in that skill.

The scientist-practitioner model framework is modeled by clinical supervisors and research mentors who:

  1. Utilize both empirically-validated treatments and evidence-based principles in the care and consultation of VA patients
  2. Direct Fellows to research literature as a primary means of increasing their knowledge and skills

 

Mentors and supervisors demonstrate and encourage the use of consultation, persistent attention to life-long clinical/research training, and continuing education to navigate clinical challenges. Clinical supervision/research mentorship activities are guided by empirical references and theory about effective practices in psychology. Respect for the scientist-practitioner framework is further modeled by the following:

  • The interface of clinical service and clinical research staff within our setting
  • The provision of clinical didactics that feature a strong emphasis on empirically-derived treatment and assessment practices
  • A wide range of clinical research opportunities in the field of suicide prevention

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Fellowship Objectives

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Consistent with the larger VA mission, our Fellowship program’s objectives aim to:

  1. Provide high-quality health and mental health treatment to our nation’s Veterans, with a special goal to provide cutting-edge mental health services to Veterans in key priority areas: suicide prevention, and the development of effective, evidence-based treatments for co-contributing factors such as: traumatic brain injury (TBI), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), substance use, and Serious Mental Illness (SMI)
  2. Educate and train health and mental health care providers who will service the needs of Veterans
  3. Develop, implement, and disseminate clinically-relevant suicide prevention research that will improve the lives and functions of today’s Veterans

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Fellowship Goals

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Ultimately, our two-year Fellowship program seeks to provide Fellows the training, mentorship and tools to become highly competent in eight core goals:

  1. Assessment, diagnosis and intervention
  2. Interdisciplinary consultation and teaching
  3. Conducting clinically-informed research
  4. Scholarly inquiry/integration of science and practice
  5. Confidence and professional identity
  6. Cultural and individual diversity issues
  7. Professional, ethical and legal issues
  8. Organization, management, and administration

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Current and Former Fellows

Where are former Fellows now?

Fellows from the Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention have successfully gone onto clinical, research, and/or administrative careers throughout the country. The map below shows where some of our former Fellows have landed.

fellows across the country

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Minimum Requirements for Successful Program Completion

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Fellows are expected to complete a meaningful research project during their Fellowship and to consistently show clear markers of research productivity. Fellows are also expected to meet clinical competencies and will participate in decisions regarding clinical rotations relevant to their areas of emphasis and training goals. Key markers of successful completion include:

  • Attain indicated level of competency on all relevant competency levels by end of year one, and skills comparable to autonomous practice at the licensure level by end of year two (specific requirements fully outlined in Fellow Training Manual provided at beginning of Fellowship)
  • Completion of clinically-driven, research-focused project
  • Attain indicated level of competency on all relevant competency levels by end of year one, and skills comparable to autonomous practice at the licensure level by end of year two (specific requirements fully outlined in Fellow Training Manual provided at beginning of Fellowship)
  • Publication in peer-reviewed journals (minimum of two; at least one directly related to area of research interest, ideally as first author)
  • Grant proposal development, writing/review assistance, and/or submission
  • Facilitate at least two presentations in an area of interest at the Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention
  • Presentation at all-lab research meeting on research-focused project
  • Successful completion of required didactics
  • Participation in education/teaching/dissemination efforts
  • Maintenance of consistently professional and ethical conduct in professional setting throughout duration of training

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Diversity

The Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention and Fellowship program follow all non-discrimination policies laid out in VHA Directive 2008-024.

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National Training Activities & Didactics

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The Fellowship Hub site, located at the Palo Alto VA under the Directorship of Dr. Ruth O’Hara, hosts a series of didactic seminars provided via Video Teleconference (V-tel) each year (attendance mandatory for all Fellows). At these V-tels, renowned experts in the field of mental health present on a variety of clinical, educational, research, and career development issues, and Fellows have an opportunity to participate in “structured discussions,” establishing connections with both peers and leading clinical researchers situated throughout the United States. Additional didactics and group meetings are available specifically related to grant-writing, manuscript writing workshops, and project development.

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Local Training & Didactics

Fellows are required to participate in and contribute to structured activities that include the following:

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  • Individual Clinical Supervision and Individual Research Mentorship (weekly)
  • Meetings with Postdoctoral Training Director
  • Principal Investigator, Lab-wide, and Clinical meetings offering didactic presentations and discussion on topics such as:
    • research methodology,
    • fiscal and administrative issues
    • IRB procedures,
    • VA Research and Development policies,
    • ethics,
    • program development/assessment,
    • grant review and/or submission,
    • lab management,
    • clinical and research topics of interest
    • assessment and evaluation, and
    • clinical consultation
  • Statistical and Qualitative Analysis Consultation as needed for clinical research projects requiring expert input (by appointment)
  • Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention Consultation Service Team meetings for discussion of specific cases presenting to the consultation service as well as systems-related issues related to clinical practice (weekly)
  • Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention Journal Club, where Fellows and Psychology Interns select and discuss a topic and associated literature relevant to our mission. Trainees will develop specific research, education and clinical learning objectives related to their chosen topic and will facilitate a high-level discussion with staff, faculty and other trainees. Fellows will also mentor at least one psychology intern on presentation preparation.

Fellows also benefit from optional national and local didactics, as well as other opportunities presented locally through the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Departments of Psychiatry and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. Outside collaboration and mentorship from Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention partners further supplement Fellow training experiences.

Please see our Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention Research Pages for more information on our collaborative projects that feature partnerships with nationally and internationally recognized clinicians/researchers.

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Clinical Activities

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As part of the MIRECC team, Fellows interact daily with a wide range of Denver VAMC patients, as well as DVAMC staff, clinicians and clinical researchers. Each Fellow joins the Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention Suicide Consultation Service, which assists mental health providers in the assessment and treatment of Veterans with suicidal ideation and/or suicide-related behaviors. As part of the MIRECC suicide consultation service, Fellows will have the opportunity to provide consultation to mental health clinicians who are working with patients at high risk for suicide. This process varies from client to client; however, formal psychological/neuropsychological assessment may be incorporated into the process. Additionally, Fellows engage in other clinical training experiences, such as:

  • providing evidence-based psychotherapy (under supervision),
  • working with Veterans presenting with a wide range of common mental illnesses including:
    • depressive disorders,
    • anxiety disorders (e.g., PTSD),
    • alcohol and substance use and dependence disorders,
    • adjustment disorders
    • personality disorders, and
    • Serious Mental Illness (SMI) including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and psychotic disorders or symptoms

Finally, VA patients present with issues such as homelessness, readjustment and reintegration from war, anger, and stress. Working as part of an integrated care team, Fellows collaborate with hospital staff in the psychiatric inpatient unit, mental health clinics and other services, providing a rich and diverse training environment.

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Life in Colorado/Denver

We are located in the Denver metropolitan area, within a half hour’s drive to the Rocky Mountain foothills.

Denver VA

The Denver VA Medical Center (VAMC) patient population reflects the wide diversity found in the Denver area. Therefore, we serve an entire adult age span (from early 20s to individuals over 100 years old), different sexual orientations (i.e., gay, lesbian, bisexual) and gender identities (i.e., transgender), a full spectrum of socioeconomic status and educational levels, as well as multiple racial/cultural groups. This includes Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, American Indian or Alaska native, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and persons of Asian descent.

The Denver VAMC is part of the Rocky Mountain Network, which serves Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and portions of Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, and North Dakota. The Eastern Colorado Health Care System (ECHCS) is one of the three health care systems within the Rocky Mountain Network, with the Denver VAMC serving the metro as well as surrounding area. ECHCS encompasses a wide range of physical, mental health and rehabilitation services, including women’s health, a PTSD Residential Rehabilitation Program (PRRP), Intensive/Inpatient unit, a homelessness program, and a Polytrauma Network Site. The Denver VAMC is slated to move to the Anschutz medical campus (comprised of the University of Colorado Hospital, the University of Colorado School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine, College of Nursing, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Colorado School of Public Health and CU Graduate school, and The Children’s Hospital).in Spring 2018.

Choosing Colorado/Denver

We realize that a decision to select a particular Fellowship is not only a professional one, but a personal one as well. Colorado, which receives approximately 300 days of sunshine each year, consistently ranks as one of the country’s most healthy and fit places to live.  With the state’s challenging terrain and stunning natural beauty, its residents may choose from an abundance of activities that promote both a high level of fitness and overall satisfaction and happiness.

From Vail to Telluride, Aspen to Steamboat, Colorado is home to some of the highest-ranked skiing and snowboarding resorts in the U.S. In several locations (such as Glenwood Springs, and Mount Princeton) visitors may soak in hot springs after a day of skiing or boarding. Spring and summer offer as many options for fun and relaxation, including hiking, biking, boating, and fishing.

In Denver, local activities include musicals, plays, and concerts at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, nationally recognized exhibits at the Denver Art Museum, and outdoor/indoor exhibits at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  For more information, including nightlife and restaurants, the city of Denver hosts various informative websites.  The Westword, one of Denver’s oldest local magazines, also has a wealth of information.

With respect to diversity, Denver is home to the nation's largest Cinco de Mayo Festival celebrating Mexican culture, the nation's largest and most diversified Native American gathering represented by the Native American Powwow every March, an annual Colorado Dragon Boat Festival celebrating Asian traditions, and countless other festivals celebrating Greek culture and African American Art.  Denver Pride Fest is recognized as one of the top 10 Pride events in the country.  Additionally, Denver has consistently been in the top 5 US cities that are considered the most livable for those in wheelchairs, according to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

Finally, the decision to accept a Fellowship sometimes means relocation for the Fellow as well as their loved ones.  Regarding Denver’s economy, according to Metrodenver.org, “A core of young, highly educated workers populates Metro Denver. They come from all over the United States and the world, and once they discover Colorado, they seldom leave…Metro Denver is a magnet for talented workers who are interested in career opportunities in our region's dynamic industries such as aerospace, bioscience, energy, and information technology.”  The Metro Denver region is also home to 11 four-year public and private colleges and universities; 5 two-year public community colleges; and 300+ private occupational and technical schools.  For those with children, information about the public school system is available online.

*This page contains links to sites external to Department of Veterans Affairs.  VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the external linked websites.

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Training Faculty

The Denver VA MIRECC is home to nationally-recognized clinical researchers and clinicians who supervise/mentor Fellows in research as well as the application of specialized knowledge to Veteran treatment and intervention. Each member of our Fellowship Training Committee (TC) is highly competent and credentialed, representing a strong array of clinical and research skills, as well as expertise in our specialty areas. These encompass traumatic brain injury, suicidality (including the neurobiological underpinnings of suicidality), co-morbid psychiatric disorders such as PTSD and substance use, OEF/OIF, seriously mentally ill, and evidence-based treatments. Fellowship Training Committee members serve as Clinical Supervisors and Research Mentors for Fellows. They provide both formal and informal mentoring, guidance around the selection and implementation of clinical research projects, feedback/supervision regarding clinical work, and are responsible for overseeing local didactics and other training experiences. Below is a list of our training staff. Faculty with a “*” next to their name are faculty members who are taking fellowship applications. If you are interested in working with one of these faculty members, please review their page and contact them with any further questions.

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Application and Selection Procedures

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As an equal opportunity training program, the Fellowship program strongly encourages applications from all qualified candidates regardless of racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, or other minority status.

Eligibility

  • Completion of doctoral degree, including defense of dissertation, from an APA-accredited Clinical or Counseling Psychology program before the start date of the Fellowship (early September)
  • Completion of an APA-accredited psychology internship program
  • U.S. citizenship
  • Fingerprinting and background checks
  • Male applicants born after 12/31/1959 must have registered for the draft by age 26
  • Failure to meet these qualifications could nullify an offer to an applicant

For more information on eligibility please click here.

Application Process

Applicants are asked to document their qualifications as well as their fit with both the program and a specified research mentor or mentors** by submitting:

Required:

  • A signed letter of interest that includes: career goals and how these align with the mission of the Rocky Mountain MIRECC; what clinical skills applicant would like to further hone during Fellowship, and; a description of how applicant’s pre-doctoral educational, clinical and research experiences align well with the research program/area of emphasis of the applicant’s chosen faculty mentor.
  • A current Curriculum Vitae.
  • A signed letter of completion or expected completion from academic and internship/residency programs.
  • Three signed letters of recommendation.
  • A work sample that highlights specific relevance to the identified emphasis area of the mentor.
  • A sample de-identified psychological assessment report preferably with a suicide risk assessment and management component.
  • A summary regarding number and types of psychological/neuropsychological/cognitive tests administered and reports written.

**Please note that applications will only be considered when a specified mentor has been identified in the cover letter and in the description of the applicant's “fit”. While the fellow will interact on some level with all training faculty during the 2-year course of the fellowship, not all faculty are able to provide research mentorship at a given time. Please review the faculty pages carefully before submitting your application to determine which mentors are available and whether their research program aligns with your interests and goals.

Available mentors for the selected 2020-2021 fellow are:

* Please note: Violation of confidentiality in a work sample/report (e.g., ANY INCLUSION OF ANY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION such as geographic subdivisions smaller than a state, all elements of dates (except year) directly related to an individual including birth date/admission date/discharge date/date of death, name of high school, name of work setting, etc.) will result in immediate termination of the applicant from consideration, as well as contact with the applicant and applicant's Training Director to notify them of the violation. Please make it very easy for us to determine that you have de-identified the document by putting a header at the top of the document stating so, using “Mr./Ms. Xxxx,” etc.

Inquiries regarding the Fellowship and application materials may be e-mailed or sent to:
Jennifer Olson-Madden, PhD
Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention
Rocky Mountain Regional VAMC
1700 N Wheeling ST
Aurora, CO 80045
Phone: 303-355-5811
E-mail: jennifer.olson-madden@va.gov
Accepting rolling applications until position is filled

To view our Fellowship brochure, please click here.

Selection Procedures

We use a "goodness of fit" model in selecting Fellows and look for applicants whose training backgrounds and interests are consistent with the Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention mission and the identified faculty mentor’s area of research. Once candidates have forwarded the application packet, their materials are reviewed by the Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention Psychology Fellowship Training Committee members. Applicants are pre-screened based on various criteria which includes:

  • Breadth and depth of prior general clinical or counseling training
  • Quality of experience in areas relevant to the Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention mission
  • Goodness of fit between the applicant’s professional goals and program training objectives
  • Goodness of fit between the applicant’s previous experience and identified mentor’s research program
  • Quality and scope of research productivity as indicated by research projects, conference/poster presentations, publications, or other scholarly work
  • Ability to integrate/synthesize psychological data and make logical/meaningful recommendations as demonstrated in assessment report
  • Strength of letters of recommendation
  • A clear, thoughtful writing style in all application materials

 

Qualified applicants who appear to be a "good fit" with our training program will be invited for an interview with our selection committee consisting of training leadership and training committee members. Interviews will take place generally in mid-January through mid-February and ideally are in-person. We strive to support applicants in making decisions about their candidacy at our Fellowship program. Applicants should feel free to be in contact with Dr. Olson-Madden if they have any questions. We will notify applicants when they are no longer under consideration. The Rocky Mountain MIRECC fellowship program is following the Uniform Notification Date (UND) process and will make a selection commensurate with dates posted on the APPIC website.

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Accreditation Status

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Questions related to the program's accreditation status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation:

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 1st Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
(202) 336-5979
Email: APAACCRED@APA.COM
Website: www.apa.org/education/grad/program-accreditation.aspx

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Postdoctoral Residency Admissions, Support, and Initial Placement Data

Standard V.A. of the Standards of Accreditation for Postdoctoral Programs requires that programs provide potential and current trainees and the public with accurate information on the program and on program expectations. This information is meant to describe the program accurately and completely, using the most up-to-date data about important admissions, support, and outcome variables, and must be presented in a manner that allows applicants to make informed decisions about entering the program. Below, please see this information, which is updated annually.

Please download this information.

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