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MD Fellowship - Seattle

The VA Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) MD Fellowship is for physicians who have completed residency training and focuses on preparing physicians for successful careers in academic medicine as independent researchers.

Fellowship Curriculum Overview
The two-year fellowship is designed to have physicians 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.

Fellowship Requirements
Research
Fellows will spend approximately 75 percent of their time in research and education activities. Fellows are expected to develop and carry out a research project, submit at least one manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal, present at a national meeting, participate in grant writing, learn and use the latest technology in teaching, and participate in and lead inter-professional project teams.

Clinical Care
Fellows shall spend approximately 25 percent of their time in clinical care. Typically fellows hold clinic one ½ day per week at the Seattle Division in their respective department (Internal Medicine, Cardiology, etc.).

Education
1. MPH/MS Degree: Fellows are required to earn a master’s degree in Health Services (MPH) or Epidemiology (MS) from the UW School of Public Health, unless the degree was obtained previously (Please note these programs have separate applications processes and deadlines from the fellowship).
2. Work-in-Progress (WIP) Seminars: All fellows are expected to attend the weekly WIP presentations held throughout the year. This seminar allows fellows to contribute to and benefit from the experiences and knowledge of the larger group of fellows and mentors.

Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible, candidates must have:
1. Graduated from an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited residency program. (Please Note: International medical graduates must also have an Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certificate that is valid indefinitely)
2. Be board certified or board eligible
3. Be a United States citizen
4. Have an active, full and unrestricted license to practice in the United States

Additional Selection Criteria
Candidates who meet the eligibility requirements will be selected based on their:
1. Interest – candidate desires to lead and shepherd health services research in rapidly changing health care settings and demonstrates special interest in the focus of research at the Seattle HSR&D Center
2. Potential – candidate demonstrates likelihood of ability to succeed in a career incorporating health services research for US Veterans
3. Match – with available mentors. A list of the current Investigators at the Seattle HSR&D Center is available here.

Funding
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; however, fellows can apply for a third year of funding from OAA with the support of mentors and the Program Director.

OAA started the VA Advanced Fellowship Program in health services 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.

Stipend Determination
Starting salaries are competitive and depend upon the number of years of previously completed ACGME accredited physician residency (post-graduate year pay scale, PGY) and on local VA stipend rates.

Benefits & Other Support
Fellows receive all the same benefits (such as health insurance) as VA paid employees. Other support available during 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.

Pre-Application Phone Call
If you plan to apply and you meet the eligibility requirements, we recommend a pre-application telephone call with Co-Directors Nelson or O'Hare. Please email the Fellowship Coordinator, Mary Little, your current CV and, a brief summary of your research interests, and indicate that you would like to set up a telephone call with the co-directors to discuss the fellowship. Please be prepared to discuss your research interests and career goals on this call. The purpose of the call is to determine your fit for the program and to assess how well your research interests and goals met the aims of the program. This isn't a required part of the application process, but is recommended.

Formal Application Steps
To apply, please assemble the following documents:
1. An updated CV
2. A brief statement of research interests or a personal statement, approximately ½ page to one page in length
3. Three letters of recommendation

Please submit all application materials by email to 
Mary.Little3@va.gov. Telephone: (206) 764-2611

Questions about the application process should be directed to Mary. 

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

Note: Applications to the master’s degree programs within UW School of Public Health have separate applications processes and deadlines from the fellowship. The deadlines vary by program but tend to be by the end of the year.

Interviewing
The interview process is individualized and often depends on the distance of the candidate to Seattle 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.

Hiring
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 Puget Sound Health Care System.

After the VA Puget Sound 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 Seattle at VA Puget Sound Health Care System can proceed to hire.

The VA Puget Sound HR office requires fellows to have a physical exam completed at the Seattle 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).