Increasing the Ranks of Academic Researchers in Mental Health: A Multisite Approach to Postdoctoral Fellowship Training

O'Hara, Ruth PhD; Cassidy-Eagle, Erin L. PhD; Beaudreau, Sherry A. PhD; Eyler, Lisa T. PhD; Gray, Heather L.; Giese-Davis, Janine PhD; Hubbard, Jeffrey; Yesavage, Jerome A. MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181c47c51
Workforce

This report highlights the use of multisite training for psychiatry and psychology postdoctoral fellows developing careers in academic clinical research in the field of mental health. The objective is to describe a model of training for young investigators to establish independent academic clinical research careers, including (1) program structure and eligibility, (2) program goals and development of a multisite curriculum, (3) use of technology for implementing the program across multiple sites, and (4) advantages and challenges of this multisite approach. In 2000, in collaboration with the Veterans Affairs (VA) Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers (MIRECCs), the VA Office of Academic Affiliations launched the Special Fellowship Program in Advanced Psychiatry and Psychology. Each of the 10 currently participating VA sites across the United States is affiliated with a MIRECC and an academic medical institution. In the first five years of this fellowship program, 83 fellows (34 psychiatrists and 49 psychologists) have participated. The success of this multisite approach is evidenced by the 58 fellows who have already graduated from the program: 70% have entered academic clinical research positions, and over 25 have obtained independent extramural grant support from the VA or the National Institutes of Health. Multisite training results in a greater transfer of knowledge and capitalizes on the nationwide availability of experts, creating unique networking and learning opportunities for trainees. The VA's multisite fellowship program plays a valuable role in preparing substantial numbers of psychiatry and psychology trainees for a range of academic clinical research and leadership positions in the field of mental health.

Dr. O'Hara is director, VA Special Fellowship in Advanced Psychiatry and Psychology, associate director, Sierra-Pacific MIRECC, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, and associate professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California.

Dr. Cassidy-Eagle is director of research, Research Department, ETR Associates (Education, Training, Research), Santa Cruz, California, and adjunct clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California.

Dr. Beaudreau is clinical assistant professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, and associate director, MIRECC Hub Site Fellowship Program, Palo Alto, California.

Dr. Eyler is associate professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, and VA San Diego Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center, San Diego, California.

Ms. Gray is research assistant, VA Palo Alto Sierra- Pacific Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center, Palo Alto, California.

Dr. Giese-Davis is associate professor, Division of Psychosocial Oncology, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Mr. Hubbard is research assistant, VA Palo Alto Sierra-Pacific Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center.

Dr. Yesavage is director, Sierra-Pacific MIRECC, associate chief of staff for mental health and chief of psychiatry, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, and professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California.

Please see the end of this article for information about the authors.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. O'Hara, Sierra-Pacific MIRECC (151Y), VA Palo Alto Health Care System, 3801 Miranda Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94304; telephone: (650) 493-5000 ext. 63620; e-mail: roh@stanford.edu.

© 2010 Association of American Medical Colleges