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VA Quality Scholars Fellowship in Outcomes Research
     
A joint program of the White River Junction Outcomes Group and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI).

The Outcomes Group is a creative health services research group in Vermont who seek to question fundamental assumptions about medical care. We work to address overmedicalization -- and the exaggerated health messages that promote it. This is an exceptional fellowship opportunity for physicians who would like to become part of a small supportive research group.



Goals

The program provides the opportunity to obtain two fundamental prerequisites for successful research careers:

  • Research skills. Fellows learn the basic skills required to evaluate the effectiveness and quality of health care - skills that are best obtained through course work and collaboration with established investigators.

  • Personal motivation. Fellows are also provided the opportunity to explore broadly the issues and challenges facing health care today, in order to discover an area of sufficient personal interest to motivate a professional career.


Curriculum

During the first year, fellows generally enroll in the CECS Master of Science or Master of Public Health Program in the Evaluative Clinical Sciences. It includes coursework in biostatistics, epidemiology, health policy, clinical decision-making, survey research and quality improvement. Fellows design a research project and carry it out under the direction of faculty.

During the second year, fellows focus on research and the completion of one or more independent projects. They also serve as teaching assistants for one course in the Masters program and are advised on how to seek and obtain an academic appointment. A third year of support can sometimes be provided.

Throughout the two years, fellows participate in the weekly Outcomes Group Seminar, where fellows and faculty present and discuss their own research as it unfolds. To allow sufficient time for research, clinical responsibilities are intentionally limited (< 20%) and vary according to the specialty and interest of the fellow.

Since 1995, 29 fellows have participated in the VA Outcomes fellowship. More than half of them have chosen a career in Research and Academic Medicine. Nearly all of them published their fellowship research. Click on the link below for a list of physicians who have participated in the VA/CECS Outcomes Fellowship.


Directors

Lisa Schwartz, M.D., M.S. is a general internist whose research focuses on improving the communication of medical information to patients, physicians, journalists and policymakers. She has worked to address two important barriers to good communication: (1) many patients and providers are limited in their ability to interpret medical data; and (2) exaggerated and incomplete health messages are common. Her career has been devoted to creating and testing practical solutions to enhance the communication of medical data (e.g. a NIH sponsored workshop for journalists, working with the FDA to improve the data in direct-to-consumer drug advertisements, and developing materials for patients to help them understand "numbers in health").

H. Gilbert Welch, M.D., M.P.H. is a general internist whose research focuses on the problems created by efforts to detect disease early. He has worked to clarify the fundamental effects of advancing the time of diagnosis: more of us are labeled as being "sick", and some are exposed to unnecessary intervention. This work takes on new importance given the increased enthusiasm for screening and the advent of genetic testing. He has recently completed a book challenging one of medicine's most basic precepts -- that the best approach to cancer is always to try to catch it early.


Who is eligible and what is the level of financial support?

Physicians trained in surgery, gynecology, psychiatry, radiology, pathology, dermatology, family practice or internal medicine (including subspecialties) are welcome to apply. They must be willing and able to provide clinical services within a VA health care system (board certified with a full medical license), agree to serve as teaching assistants during their second year, and must commit to the minimum of two years required for the fellowship. Fellows receive a stipend ($50,000 - $65,000, based on prior training) and receive a waiver of tuition for the Masters program. If physicians don't want to spend two years in the fellowship, but are still interested in the CECS Masters degree, they should apply for the Masters degree only. In this case, there will be no stipend provided.


Application Process

Physicians interested in the program should contact Jennifer Snide by phone at (802) 296-5178 or by email at Harold.Bae@dartmouth.edu, or visit our website (www.vaoutcomes.org) for more information. The application requires a copy of the candidate's CV, a personal statement and three letters of recommendation. If the application receives a favorable review, candidates will be asked to schedule an interview in Hanover/White River Junction. Two positions are available each year and are accepted on a rolling basis, although we strongly encourage fellows to have their applications in by December of the preceding year. New fellows begin work July 1.

 

 

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