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The VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Mental Illness Research and Treatment at the VISN 5 MIRECC has two 2-year fellowship positions: one position for an MD Fellow from psychiatry, neurology, radiology, internal medicine or other areas of medicine and one position for an Allied Health Fellow from clinical psychology, counseling psychology, social work, nursing or pharmacy. Our program is one of 25 sites in a national fellowship. We are proud that our fellowship has a focus on training future clinical researchers in recovery-oriented care for individuals with serious mental illness. The VISN 5 MIRECC research program addresses some of the most important mental health services research priorities within VA such as evaluating peer-delivered mental health services, engaging Veterans in mental health care, promoting holistic and self-directed recovery and expanding Whole Health knowledge and resources within the VA. MIRECC Fellows develop independent programs of research that address these areas as well as other high priority areas to improve the lives of Veterans.
The VISN 5 MIRECC recently welcomed two new post-doctoral fellows into our Advanced Fellowship Program: Mary Katherine Howell, Ph.D. and Natasha Tonge, Ph.D.
Mary Katherine Howell, Ph.D. recently completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Howard University. When asked about how she would like to contribute to the recovery-oriented care of Veterans with serious mental illness (SMI), Dr. Howell, responded, “I want to see Veterans with co-occurring SMI and PTSD receive evidence-based treatment for their Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in a way that is accessible, culturally responsive, and improves their quality of life and functioning in ways beyond just reducing psychiatric symptoms.”
Her interest in the MIRECC Advanced Fellowship came from having a long-term career goal of a clinical scientist in VA and “I knew a MIRECC fellowship would give me the support and mentorship I needed to grow as a researcher.”
Dr. Howell hopes to become a VA-funded investigator, starting with a CDA-2 and the VISN 5 MIRECC is excited to support her on that journey!
Natasha Tonge, Ph.D. recently completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. When asked about her recovery-oriented research/ clinical interests she responded, “I’m interested in supporting Veterans with serious mental illness in recovery by trying to create more tools and increase access to skills that can help coping with daily-life stressors...” Dr. Tonge stated that she wants to increase the accessibility of these tools (e.g., web-based and phone-based resources) for Veterans with SMI.
Her interest in the fellowship was piqued through the VISN 5 MIRECC mission of Putting Recovery Into Practice. “…I really wanted my own career to focus on improving day-to-day experiences for Veterans with SMI. Being at a recovery and practice-oriented fellowship seemed like the perfect way to get at my research career goals: Being more recovery-oriented isn’t just about changing symptoms in the short-term – it’s about long-term change in coping with the ups and downs of life stressors. So far, I haven’t been disappointed!”
Dr. Tonge hopes to become a clinical researcher known for advocating new approaches to caring for Veterans with SMI and making it easier for Veterans to access tools to help their daily coping.