Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center
Psychology Postdoctoral Fellowship Program Structure
Training Schedule and Rotations
The Lovell FHCC Psychology Training Program achieves its training and educational goal and objectives by assigning fellows to their area of emphasis at least 80% of their training time. However, fellows also have the option of selecting to do part-time rotations, maximum of 20% of their training time. A rotation is defined in terms of duration, physical setting, patient population served, major intervention objective(s) and clinical assessment/treatment modalities used. The psychologist(s) in each rotation setting serve(s) as primary clinical supervisor(s) for all knowledge, skill and competency training areas pertinent to that rotation. In addition to the major supervisor(s) in the rotation setting, fellows may obtain additional consultative input from psychology staff in order to receive exposure in specific skill training areas.
Rotations assist in facilitating the integration of the fellow's professional psychology skill acquisition with a realistic understanding of the health care delivery system. It also provides opportunities for and socialization into a health service delivery environment in different settings and circumstances while interacting with members of different health care disciplines. Additionally the rotation system allows for the development of in-depth supervisor-fellow relationships and provides the fellow with multiple professional role models, varied forms of clinical expertise and different patient populations. Finally, rotations provide fellows with the opportunities for socialization into the profession of psychology, through the process of "role transitioning," from the student role to that of the beginning professional.
Rotation Training Contracts
Each fellow must negotiate a training contract with the supervisor(s) of the assigned rotation(s) during the first week of each rotation. The Director of Training and the parties then review the training contract and formalize it. The training contract “operationalizes” the training experience the fellow is to receive. It briefly defines the methods of evaluation and performance feedback to be used to assess and communicate the fellow's progress, performance and competence. Training contracts may also be used to address potential problems in meeting training objectives, as well as in remedial interventions for problems and/or performance deficits, if any.
Training Requirements and Constraints
- The fellow is required to participate in administrative “employee orientation and training” experiences during the first week. During this period they have an opportunity to meet and talk with all Psychology staff, visit all available rotation settings, receive safety and other mandatory employee training and become familiar with the FHCC, its layout and resources.
- The fellow is required to spend the majority of their time in their emphasis area. However, they are given the option of pursuing part-time rotations up to 20% of their time.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Continual changes in public and private sector health service delivery systems also affect the Veterans Health Administration and the FHCC. Fellows are reminded that there may be changes in the administrative and organizational structure of this training site that are beyond the control of the Fellowship Training Program and may affect its training resources, processes and program structure.
Other Training Events and Learning Activities
The Psychology training calendar offers weekly Clinical-Professional Issues Seminars on a broad variety of topics in professional psychology, presented by psychology staff members, as well as occasional seminars or workshops presented by outside consultants when funding permits. Additionally, the training calendar provides for a clinical Case Conference Seminar in individual therapy and assessment, at which fellows present cases with group/peer supervision throughout the year. Fellow attendance at psychology training calendar events is mandatory.
Didactic and other non-rotation based learning activities are typically conducted on Thursday afternoons (1200 to 1600 hours) -- Fellows are requested to plan their leave and other absences accordingly. The hours required for these activities are subsumed under the fellow's current rotations for time accounting (i.e. rotation duration) purposes. Research activities, holidays, annual leave, authorized absences and sick leave are similarly subsumed under the fellow's current rotations for time accounting purposes. Fellows are requested to distribute their absences throughout their training year so as to optimize their rotation exposure.
Over the course of the year, Fellows complete a year-long diversity project of their own choosing. The aim of the project is to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in direct services to patients, among staff, or in the Psychology Training Program. Projects may be clinical in nature, or address program development, policy and procedure, training and education, or other areas. Fellows spend the first third of the year assessing gaps and needs, and proposing a project. They spend the rest of the year implementing, evaluating, and improving their plan.
Fellows are also required to attend a variety of mandatory non-psychological “Employee Education” training events sponsored by the FHCC or VA Headquarters. Examples of such events are Diversity Training, Safety Training, Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, Computer Security Training, Customer Service Training, etc. Additionally, computer-based Employee Education modules must be completed as required by the FHCC. The time these events require is also subsumed under the interns' current rotation.
Training Sponsored by Other Disciplines or Outside the FHCC
The FHCC's many professional services each have their own training calendars, providing opportunities to attend numerous educational events throughout the year. Fellows are encouraged to attend such extra-service events when appropriate to their training assignments. Fellows are also encouraged to attend professionally relevant training events conducted and sponsored by psychology organizations outside of the FHCC (i.e., workshops, conventions) during weekends. While fellows may not receive pay for attending such events, they may receive credit towards the number of certified postdoctoral hours required for licensure.
A word of caution is in order, however. Due to the multitude of training events sponsored by other disciplines and professions at the FHCC throughout the training year, attending even a small portion of them could easily result in spending 40 hours per week at seminars, workshops, presentations, etc. Fellows are reminded that the primary purpose of their fellowship is “hands-on” practical and experiential training, and that this should be reflected in their spending the bulk of their time and effort on their assigned training rotations, engaged in supervised service delivery activities. Attendance at training events that are not on the Psychology or FHCC mandatory training calendars should therefore always be cleared with the rotation supervisor, entered as official leave or authorized absence requests and approved by the Director of Training.
Fellows and other trainees at Captain James A. Lovell FHCC are encouraged to pursue opportunities for continued professional growth through scholarly activities such as research involvement, within the limited amount of time allotted for such activities. The resources available at the FHCC and affiliated institutions offer some opportunities for research in both basic and applied areas. The patient population served by the FHCC represents a subject pool that is sufficiently varied and large to accommodate a wide range of research interests. Psychology staff and faculty at affiliated institutions are often themselves actively involved in research and welcome the involvement of interested fellows. The majority of psychology staff members hold adjunct or clinical appointments at one or more institutes of higher learning and several staff members contribute to the field through professional publications, presentations, workshops, symposia and seminars. Additionally, occasional opportunities arise for involvement in program evaluation projects as part of the Psychology’s and the FHCC’s ongoing quality management activities.
Fellows may receive assistance with their scholarly efforts in the form of consultation from staff, computer access, library literature searches, etc. Fellows can use up to 5 working days or 40 hours are for the sole conduct or completion of VA-approved research projects. Research time is allotted with the understanding that the fellow will spend at least the equivalent number of hours pursuing the research during off-duty time, off the FHCC’s premises. "Research" is defined as the actual conduct of studies (i.e., running subjects, analyzing data, writing results) and assumes the presence of an approved proposal/prospectus. Preliminary literature searches, proposal writing, or "thinking about a project" do not constitute creditable research activities.
Formal "one-to-one" supervision is set at an absolute minimum of two scheduled hours per week. Fellows negotiate with their rotation supervisors the amount, type, level and additional duration of individual supervision and feedback needed. Fellows often negotiate and receive more individual supervision (ranging from 4 to 6 hrs/wk.) earlier in the year and reduce supervisory hours later in the year. Towards the end of the training year the fellow is expected to function with considerable independence, using his/her supervisor mostly as a consultative resource, rather than in a traditional supervisory mode. Additionally, extensive amounts of informal and unscheduled supervision are provided by supervisors, through staff meetings, team meetings, and rounds and in the form of group supervision during a bi-weekly 3-hour, yearlong group supervised case conference seminar. Supervisors are expected to provide, and fellows are encouraged to solicit, ongoing verbal performance feedback throughout the rotation. Similarly, fellows are encouraged to seek supervision and consultation when they feel the need, in addition to the formally scheduled supervision periods. Fellows will also have opportunities to teach in the form of staff in-service training events or patient education classes. Opportunities to supervise are rather extensive and usually include supervision of practicum students, interns, and psychiatry residents.