PhD Fellowship - Denver - Seattle-Denver Center of Innovation (COIN)
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Seattle-Denver Center of Innovation (COIN)


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PhD Fellowship - Denver

The Denver/Seattle Center of Innovation (COIN) for Veteran-Centered and Value-Driven Care located in Denver, Colorado has been awarded an Advanced Fellowship Program in Health Services Research (HSR). The mission of the Denver/Seattle COIN is to conduct high quality health services research that promotes Veteran-centered and value-driven care, generate and disseminate knowledge that contributes to the well-being of Veterans, work collaboratively with Veterans Affairs (VA) policy and operational leaders to implement research findings into clinical care, and train the next generation of health services researchers and leaders. The COIN goals are to advance: 1) Veteran-centered care and 2) the science of value-driven care. The Advanced Fellowship Program goal is to train and mentor the next generation of VA Health Services Research & Development scientists and physician scientists. HSR evaluates the organization, delivery, and reimbursement of health care. Studies focus on efficacy, outcomes, access to care, patient satisfaction, and cost efficiency of diagnostic, preventive, interventional, and therapeutic approaches. HSR also includes identifying predictors of disease and determining the effectiveness of preventive interventions.

Funding is provided by VA Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA) and is guaranteed for two years as long as satisfactory progress is being made by the fellow. Typically, the Fellowship is completed in two years. OAA started the VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Health Services Research in 1991 when a broad array of concerns was challenging health care delivery in VA and across the nation. These concerns ranged from issues involving approaches for incorporating patient perspectives in decision making to quality, cost, and measurement issues. Few physicians had the training in Health Services Research needed to address these critical issues, and the need for such trained physicians was increasingly dramatically. In response, OAA started the training program to develop a cadre of physicians with health services expertise for the VA health care system and to foster the development of high quality health services research and development at local and national levels.

Fellowship Curriculum Overview
The two-year Fellowship is designed to have novice PhD researchers develop and apply their research skills by completing a publishable research project. Emphasis is placed on one-on-one mentorship and peer interaction. The curriculum fundamentals include orientation to VA, general research methodology, and written and oral communication skills. The shared emphasis of education, research, and mentorship allows fellows to hone their skills in biostatistics, clinical epidemiology, clinical trial design, medical decision making, health care organizations and delivery, financing of health care, ethical issues related to research, health policy, medical informatics, meta-analytic techniques, qualitative research methods, survey design, grant preparation, and project administration. Additional training in content areas such as quality improvement methods, patient safety investigations and other areas of significant interest to VA is available. Fellows are given the opportunity to pursue intensive training in their particular areas of interest through didactic course work, work-in-progress, and seminars. Mentorship is an integral part of this Fellowship. Faculty from VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System and the University of Colorado provide expertise in numerous areas including behavior change, comparative effectiveness, epidemiology, ethics, evaluation research, geriatrics, palliative care, health care delivery intervention, health economics, health policy, implementation science, long term care, patient self-management, quality of care, qualitative research, and statistical methodology.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Demonstrate interest in pursuing a VA career with health services research and healthcare improvement
  • Not be simultaneously enrolled in an accredited clinical training program
  • Unless otherwise listed below, fellows must possess an advanced degree (doctoral degree) from an accredited program that would make them eligible for VA hire
  • Meet all profession-focused criteria as listed below:

Nurse Fellows must meet the following criteria to enter the program:

  • Completion of a baccalaureate nursing degree
  • Possession of an unrestricted valid nursing license in any US state or territory. Such license must be maintained in order to maintain eligibility for participation
  • Have graduated (or completed all requirements for award of degree) from a doctoral program at a recognized academic institution. This can be a doctoral program in a clinical discipline such as nursing (either Ph.D. or D.N.P.), or in a non-clinical field relevant to Health Care Quality (e.g., education, industrial psychology, anthropology, medical informatics, etc.)

Clinical and Counseling Psychology Fellows: Any application for a clinical or counseling psychologist who has not completed all training and licensure requirements to qualify for appointment as an independent practitioner must be accompanied by a support letter from either the lead psychologist at the facility or from the Psychology Director of Training. Such a support letter must address the types and amount of clinical experience that the fellow will engage in and the types and amount of clinical supervision that will be provided. At least 4 hours of supervision must be provided weekly, of which 2 hours must be individual, face-to-face supervision by a licensed and privileged psychologist. Prospective fellows in clinical or counseling psychology shall:

  • Possess a doctoral degree (or demonstrate that all requirements for such a degree have been completed and award of the diploma is pending) from an American Psychological Association (APA) accredited program that would make them eligible for VA hire
  • Have completed an APA accredited internship (or a new OAA funded, VA-based internship that is not yet accredited). If the candidate has not yet completed the doctorate, there must be convincing evidence from the Director of Clinical Training at the university and from the Director of Training at the internship that completion is on track and expected before the proposed start date of the fellowship

Other Associated Health Fellows:  An Associated Health Fellow (other than nurses and clinical or counseling psychology) must have:

  • Completed all requirements to become a fully credentialed independent practitioner (or the equivalent for that profession) at a VA facility
  • Must have an active, unrestricted license to practice in the U.S., if such licenses are required for VA employment in the candidate’s profession 

PhDs with non-clinical expertise may also apply. In lieu of clinical experiences, non-clinician fellows are expected to spend significant time in healthcare improvement activities and projects, in addition to activities related to scholarship (e.g., manuscripts, presentations, grants). Non-clinicians must possess the following:

  • At least a doctoral degree (or demonstrate that all requirements for such a degree have been completed) from an accredited educational institution
  • Meet all eligibility criteria for hire within a VA facility
  • Have a stated pursuit of principal scholarly product in the fields of health services research and healthcare improvement

Additional Selection Criteria
Candidates who meet the eligibility requirements will be selected based on their:

  • Interest – desire to shepherd health services research in rapidly changing health care settings and demonstrates special interest in the focus of research at the Denver COIN
  • Potential –likelihood to succeed in a career incorporating health services research for Veterans
  • Match- with available mentors at Denver COIN/University of Colorado – Anschutz Medical Campus

The stipend rate for Fellows will be determined by Office of Academic Affiliation. Fellows shall not receive additional revenue for their duties during this program.

Benefits & Other Support
Fellows receive health insurance and vacation benefits. Other support available during the Fellowship includes office space with a secure work station equipped with statistical, word processing, and database management software and statisticians offer in-house consultation and guidance on analysis. Fellows will have opportunity to have an affiliation at the University of Colorado – Department of Health System Management and Policy in the Colorado School of Public Health.

Formal Application Steps
To apply, please assemble the following documents and submit by the 1st of February:

  1. View the contents of the PhD Fellowship Brochure.   
  2. A completed PhD Fellowship Application.   
  3. Current curriculum vitae (CV)
  4. A three-page description of your research proposal. This should include: Introduction, Research Question/Hypothesis, Background, Statement of Significance, Research Design, Methods, and Analytical Plan. In addition, describe how this HSR Fellowship Program aligns with your professional career goals.
  5. Three letters of recommendation. The letters should indicate suitability for the VA postdoctoral position.

Please submit the first 3 documents by email to the Fellowship Coordinator, Erica Valdez, at:   

Letters of recommendation can be sent directly by mail or fax to:
Erica Valdez Fellowship Coordinator
1700 N Wheeling
Building A (151)
Aurora, CO 80045

phone:  720-857-5086
fax:      720-857-5992

Questions about the application or the process should be addressed to Erica Valdez.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis; however, all application materials must be received by the 15th of Februaryto be considered for the following academic year, starting July 1st, in order to allow sufficient time for interview and hiring processes.

The interview process is individualized and often depends on the distance of the candidate to Denver and the preferences of the Program Director. Select candidates are invited for interviews after all application materials have been received and reviewed. Interviews generally take place September through December. The Fellowship Coordinator works with the candidate and the selected interviewers to design an interview schedule. VA funding does not allow for the reimbursement of interview-related travel expenses. The Program Directors will typically make admission decisions between December and January.

Once an offer is accepted and a target start date is negotiated, the Fellowship Coordinator will provide instructions on the hiring process and procedures. Note that in order to be allowed to hold clinic, candidates must first be credentialed and privileged by VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System.

After the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System Credentialing and Privileging Office (C&PO) approves the candidate, the Fellowship appointment paperwork is submitted to OAA. OAA must approve and issue the Fellowship appointment on the national level before the Human Resources (HR) office in Denver at VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System can proceed to hire.

The VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System HR office requires fellows to have a physical exam completed at the Denver Division prior to hiring. Upon successful completion of the physical, HR will generate a local offer letter and schedule orientation. All fellows must attend the 2-day New Employee Orientation hosted by HR. This orientation is designed to orient new employees with VA policies and procedures and to complete critical paperwork (health insurance, direct deposit, etc).