Psychology Postdoctoral Fellowship Program Model and Philosophy - Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center
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Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center

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Psychology Postdoctoral Fellowship Program Model and Philosophy

  • NO part-time positions are offered.
  • The postdoctoral fellowship is a yearlong full-time training program. It starts on Monday, August 16th, 2021 and concludes Friday, August 12th, 2022. This means that fellow may not end their training before the end of the 52nd week.
  • The program does not allow “accelerated early completion” of the training year.
  • Postdoctoral Fellows are required to be present on the last day of the 52nd week to “process out”.
  • The postdoctoral program's duration of 2080 hours fulfills APA accreditation standards as well as the eligibility requirements of all states for professional psychology registration, certification, or licensure.
  • Completion of the program requires both full-time attendance and satisfactory performance evaluations on all training assignments.

Number of Postdoctoral Fellowship Positions

  • The current number of psychology postdoctoral fellowship positions at FHCC is four.
  • The number of postdoctoral fellowship positions can vary from year to year, depending on annual congressional budget allocations -- Budget allocations are announced in late January of the year in which a new training cycle starts.

 Compensation

  • VA Psychology postdoctoral fellows are paid as full-time temporary (“term”) employees appointed for one year and one day -- Our program does NOT accept unfunded positions.
  • The “Per annum” postdoctoral fellow salary of $50,937 which includes locality differential, is payable in 26 bi-weekly checks subject to Federal, State, Social Security and FICA withholding.
  • Funding is allocated out of VA Central Office. Base VA psychology postdoctoral fellow compensation levels are uniform throughout the VA system, and tend to be above the national median.
  • Hourly pay for fellows is prorated on the basis of a 2080-hour work year.
  • Pay may not exceed 40 hours per week. Postdoctoral Fellows receive pay for the actual number of hours per week that they are in training, up to 40 hours. Hours in excess of 40 per week are unpaid.
  • There is no extra or differential hourly pay for overtime or weekends. Unused annual and sick leave at the end of the training year is forfeit.
  • Fellows do receive regular pay for each of the 10 annual Federal Holidays.

 Benefits Package

  • The fellow’s primary responsibility is training. No contingent relationship exists between a postdoctoral fellow’s productivity, work output or level of service delivery and the compensation paid. As temporary full-time (“term”) employees their fringe benefits are limited.
  • In addition to 10 paid Federal Holidays per year, the VA provides 4 hours of annual leave (AL) and 4 hours of sick leave (SL) per pay-period (i.e. every two weeks).
  • Until December 31st, 2020 (unless extended), the intern may also be eligible for up to 80 hours of COVID-19 related leave. Please see Families First Coronavirus Response Act for more information.  Please note, it is incumbent upon the intern to determine whether taking this leave would impact their ability to meet licensure requirements in their desired state of licensure.  
  • Health insurance and life insurance benefits are available.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs will provide only emergency care for injuries incurred while on the Medical Center's premises during formal training duty hours. Trainees are eligible for COVID-19 care on-site if they become sick while working on-campus.  They may also be eligible for on-site COVID-19 testing under certain circumstances. 
  • Malpractice liability coverage is provided for postdocs, interns, trainees and staff through the Federal Tort Claims Act of 1956, which provides liability coverage only during duty hours while on the VA's premises and only within the scope of assigned duties.

 

Principles and Values

  • Preparation for professional practice requires practical experience:
    • Albert Einstein is reputed to have said: “Only experience provides knowledge, all else just provides information.” Therefore our fellowship is about “learning by doing”; it focuses on practical, hands-on, experiential learning, rather than on theoretical/didactic/academic learning. The fellow is expected to be practicing at a mostly independent level and seen as a fully-functioning member of the treatment team. 
  • Practice and theory inform one another:
    • Our fellowship respects the interdependence of theory and practice. It strives therefore to integrate practical-experiential learning with the fellows' prior academic-didactic preparation in the theoretical-scientific foundations of the field of psychology and encourages life-long learning and continued scholarship. The fellow is expected to hone their clinical skills and academic knowledge in the VA system and their rotation specialty so as to develop a level of expertise in these areas. 
  • Preparation for entry level professional practice should be “in-depth and focused on specialty practice”:
    • Advanced, in-depth, focused specialty practice training should be obtained at the post-doctoral level. We encourage focused training so the fellow can develop a level of expertise in their specialty rotation. However, we also believe it is important to be flexible so our fellows can adapt to the continual changes in health care.  Therefore, we also encourage fellows to spend 20% of their time honing skills in other areas.  We believe this makes for a fellow who has both expert capability but a broad range of marketable skills.
  • Individualized, graduated and sequentially organized learning results in the best practice skills and knowledge:
    • Beginning residents vary considerably in their prior internship and practicum and coursework experiences and their didactic and theoretical backgrounds. Our fellowship therefore strives to build on the fellow’s existing abilities and previous learning. We make a sincere effort to provide our fellows with tailored, individualized, cumulative sequences of training experiences, which promotes gradual increases in responsibility and autonomy and gives them confidence in their competence. We do expect our fellows to progress at a quicker pace then our interns in areas related to clinical skills.  However, we acknowledge that more focused training and supervision may be required as the fellow learns how to supervise psychology students. 
  • Learning occurs best in an atmosphere of mutual respect, courtesy and dedication to improving psychological service delivery:
    • Our program therefore stresses information exchange and reciprocal learning rather than a traditional didactic approach. We treat fellows as colleagues and professionals to socialize them into their roles as professionals, and require them to demonstrate a sincere interest in the welfare of their patients.
  • Practice competence is based on knowledge about, and skills in dealing with, individual differences:
    • We believe that the true meaning of the concept of diversity is exemplified in each person being a unique individual. No program of studies can ever hope to provide comprehensive and exhaustive knowledge about every possible origin, cause of, and influence on individual differences. Our program therefore endeavors to teach fellows an attitude of openness to and respect for individual differences, combined with a realistic awareness of their knowledge and skill limitations in this area, while stressing the need to continually expand their knowledge of, and competency in dealing with the many determinants of individual differences.

 

Fellowship Focus

  • The fellowship focuses on experiential training in preparation for entry-level professional practice, i.e. on appropriately supervised “hands-on learning by doing”.
  • Experiential training is augmented by other learning experiences, e.g. didactic seminars and lectures, for 3-4 hours each week.
  • Time and opportunities to carry out independent research are limited. Fellows are allowed to dedicate up to 40 hours (5 workdays) of their training year to the participation in FHCC approved studies or projects, if desired.