Occupational Therapy Mental Health Fellowship Program – Veterans Affairs

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About the Program: The James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital Mental Health OT Fellowship Program is dedicated to advancing the knowledge and skills of an OT practitioner pursuing AOTA Board Certification or other specialty certification in OT mental health.
How to apply:
To apply please email [email protected] the following documents by April 30th  
Fellows are employed full-time by the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital for the year-long program. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen that are a graduate of an ACOTE accredited occupational therapy (OT) program and possess a current OT license (any state)/certification prior to the program start date.   
Applicants should be AOTA members and be committed to pursuing Board or Specialty Certification in the specialized area of practice.
The Fellowship will be a paid position and the fellow will be eligible for health benefits, earn annual leave and sick leave, and have paid federal holidays. There are no tuition fees associated with this fellowship.
Download the informational brochure here
Download application here Application for Health Professions Trainees 
Review Frequently Asked Questions that are linked below.
Interviews will be conducted during the month of May. The Fellowship Program is scheduled to start in late August and end one year later.
Why choose our fellowship program?
The Mental Health OT fellowship program at the JAHVA will expose the fellow to a variety of patient populations with mental health conditions both as a primary reason for treatment and a secondary consideration during rehabilitation. The fellow will experience a diverse clinical caseload with varying backgrounds and cultures as they spend time learning in JAHVH’s unique rehabilitation and mental health programs including: the Post-deployment Rehabilitation and Evaluation Program (PREP), the Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program (CPRP), the Chronic Headache Management Program (CHAMP), the Substance Use Disorders (SUDS) Program, the Comprehensive Integrated Inpatient Rehabilitation Program (CIIRP), the Acute Recovery Center (ARC), and the Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center (PRRC). Rotations will provide the fellow with a unique opportunity to learn from experienced mentors in exciting and challenging environments. The fellow will develop a well-rounded experience, providing care in the inpatient and outpatient settings and delivering OT services both in-person and via telehealth. In each new clinical environment, the fellow initially focuses on gaining foundational knowledge. Next, the curriculum will progress, facilitating higher level learning though experiential activities and clinical caseload assignments. The fellow will work directly with on-site faculty/mentors with designations of AOTA Board Certified Mental Health OT, Clinical Sexologist, and Certified Lifestyle Redesign Therapist with many years of experience. This will propel the fellow along the continuum of skill development towards advanced-level practice.
We believe in the development of occupational therapists into highly skilled practitioners through exposure to educational processes with a balance between didactic/academic and experiential/clinical environments.
To provide occupational therapists with the knowledge and abilities to progress their clinical and professional skills in mental health OT in order to become an advanced practitioners by:
Clinical Training
Clinical training consists of managing a caseload of patients with mental health conditions, one-on-one mentoring sessions with highly experienced clinical staff, as well as a didactic curriculum component with established scholarly activities. Fellows will have opportunities to participate in interdisciplinary patient rounds, journal clubs, staff in-service presentations, and group activity development and planning.
The JAHVH Mental Health OT Fellowship Program will focus on the fellow’s development of knowledge, competency, and advanced practice skills in the following core areas:
Goals of the Program
To educate and train a post professional OT graduates to:
1. Meet the needs of veterans and active duty Service Members by becoming advanced OT practitioners in the area of assistive technology OT.
 2.  Demonstrate the use of evidence-based outcome measures and advanced clinical reasoning skills by critically assessing and appraising the current literature to guide evaluation and plan of care development that facilitates occupational participation.
3. Demonstrate understanding of the 2020 AOTA ethical principles and specialty specific ethical standards, and their implication into practice.
4.  Demonstrate the ability to access and establish collaborative partnerships with stakeholders to maximize the occupational participation of clients.
5. Participate in scholarly activities such as a quality improvement project and case study development/presentation, that promote lifelong learning.
6.  Exhibit the highest standards of professionalism.
Program Coordinators/Mentors
Program Co-Coordinator: Katherine Litman, MOT, OTR/L
Program Co-Coordinator and Primary Mentor: Mary Ann Swartz, OTR/L, BCMH
Primary Mentor:  Julieth Williams, OTR/L
** Health Professions Trainees (HPTs) are appointed as temporary employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. As such, HPTs are subject to laws, policies, and guidelines posted for VA staff members.  There are infrequent times in which this guidance can change during a training year which may create new requirements or responsibilities for HPTs.  If employment requirements change during the course of a training year, HPTs will be notified of the change and impact as soon as possible and options provided. The VA Training Director for your profession will provide you with the information you need to understand the requirement and reasons for the requirement in timely manner.
A fellowship will provide post-professional training in a specialized area of practice. Participation in a fellowship will give the fellow specific experience and allow him/her to gain confidence delivering specialized OT services. It will combine didactics, mentorship, and clinical practice in the fellowship area in order to progress the fellow towards becoming an advanced-level clinician. This can increase professional marketability in the future.  
No experience is needed. Experience will be gained through participation in the fellowship program. Applicants should have strong interest in the fellowship program and applying for board or specialty certification after completion of program completion.
No. Any licensed occupational therapist can apply for a fellowship experience.  While some applicants are newly licensed OTs, others have some basic experience, or are wanting to change practice areas. Most fellows typically have 0-5 years of experience.
The specific state you are licensed in doesn’t matter as long as your meet criteria to apply.
The fellow will be considered an experienced clinician in that specialty practice area. This will help when applying for jobs in a specialized practice area that requires experience. The fellow will also be eligible to apply for AOTA Board Certification after 2 years of practice rather than the 3 years that is required for non-fellowship participants. 
If you are not already licensed, you will need to have a license before you are able to begin the fellowship experience. You do not need to have a license to apply for the fellowship experience. However, acceptance will be contingent upon obtaining a license prior to the fellowship start date.
Yes, the fellow will receive a stipend and health benefits, as well as, accrue paid time off and have paid federal holidays.
There is time built into the fellows weekly schedule to complete didactic work. However, on occasion, there may be work that must be completed outside of regular working hours.
No. The fellow will be responsible for finding your own housing. We will gladly provide  recommendations/information about the surrounding areas, if needed.
Assistive Technology:
The fellow will be working with a mix of active duty service members and veterans.  Ages of the population generally range from 20-80.  The fellow will spend time in all areas of Assistive Technology to include: seating and mobility, virtual reality, adapted sports, drivers rehabilitation, home assessment, and augmentative and alternative communication.
The fellow will see client’s with differing diagnoses. All with assistive technology needs.  The primary diagnosis will be ALS and SCI. Other diagnosis will include Polytrauma, Parkinson, TBI, CVA, and amputations.
The fellow will mainly provide individual treatments, to include evaluation and ordering, issuing and training of equipment.  Primary evaluations will consist of computer access, EADL’s, emergency call systems, mounting, access to communication devices. Emphasis placed on interdisciplinary and intradisciplinary collaboration to meet clients’ AT needs.
Mental Health:
The fellow will be working with a mix of active duty service members and veterans. Ages of the population generally range from 21-75. A vast majority of the clients will be fully independent with ADLs and IADLs. However, the fellows will spend 1 month  working in a traditional rehab setting with patients with ADL/IADL deficits. Most of the clients will be part of an inpatient program.  Clients  will range from very low to very high level of functioning from a psycho-social standpoint.
The fellow will see client’s with mental health diagnoses to include anxiety and trauma related disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, substance/behavioral related addictions, chronic pain disorders, sleep disorders, and adjustment disorders.
The fellow will provide a combination of individual and small group treatments. Many of the group treatments will focus on life skills  (money management, leisure participation, etc.). Individual treatments, will focus on emotional regulation, coping skills, communication skills, pain management, lifestyle re-design, sexual health, family re-integration, and marriage enrichment.
The fellow will be working with a mix of active duty service members and veterans. Ages of the population generally range from 18 – 90. A vast majority of the clients will be in an inpatient  SCI/Polytrauma program. However, the fellows will spend 2 months  working in a SCI Home Care/ Outpatient setting and 2 months working in a community reintegration program.  Clients will range from low to high level of functioning from a physical & cognitive standpoint.
The fellow will see client’s with a variety of neurological diagnoses to include traumatic brain injury, stroke, emerging consciousness, spinal cord injury, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS and many other co-occurring conditions.
The fellow will be providing the majority of their treatment in individual session however, will also conduct some group treatments. Individual treatments, will focus on addressing physical and cognitive barriers to function starting with ADLs/IADLs and progressing to social participation, recreation/leisure, community mobility etc. Group treatments will vary based on the client’s needs and the patient population in the program.