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VA Quality Scholars Fellowship Program

VA Advanced Fellowships Programs (Select program and then "Submit" for more information)

Program Announcement

Program details and application procedures:
Program Announcement


The purpose of VA's National Quality Scholars Fellowship Program (NQSFP) is to provide a fellowship program in healthcare quality improvement for physician  and nurse scholars. In this two-year, post-residency fellowship for physicians and pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellowship for nurses, participants learn to develop and apply new knowledge for the ongoing improvement of healthcare services for VA and the nation. At the conclusion of training, fellows will be able to demonstrate the following:

1. Knowledge and ability to design, implement, manage, and monitor quality improvement (QI) systems;
2. Competence in designing, conducting, and facilitating quality improvement (QI) research studies that build upon validated clinical or health       services research and development studies;
3. Working skills and knowledge in healthcare informatics, particularly the Veterans Integrated Systems Technology Architecture (VISTA).

Program Overview

The program includes eight NQSFP sites linked together with a hub site and the Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA). Sites are linked electronically and by two-way interactive videoconference for learning, information sharing, and the development of a national quality improvement laboratory. Each site collaborates closely with its academic affiliate. Site locations include VA facilities and their medical school affiliates in Birmingham, AL; Cleveland, OH; Iowa City, IA; Nashville, TN; San Francisco, CA; and White River Junction, VT.

The Center for Evaluative Clinical Sciences (CECS) at Dartmouth Medical School in collaboration with the White River Junction VA Medical Center serves as the hub site to coordinate curriculum, studies, and external funding opportunities. The curriculum includes research and clinical training in quality improvement, healthcare measurement, and systems theory. Fellows spend approximately 80 percent of their time in quality improvement research and education and approximately 20 percent in clinical activities. OAA administers the program.

All Fellowship participants serve as trainees on a temporary, full-time employment basis at one of the sites for the duration of the appointment period. Each appointee receives a per annum stipend related as closely as possible to local affiliate fellowship stipend levels. The highest postgraduate level attained through previous Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) residency training plus experience in nationally recognized Fellowships sponsored by NIMH, NIA, or similar agencies determine the stipend levels.

Fellowship Requirements

Applicants must desire to pursue medical careers in quality improvement and to serve as change agents to help lead VA into the 21st century. They must have the capacity for interactive skills necessary to create changes in institutions and the ability to appreciate and leverage the benefits of coordinated clinical medicine, research, and administration.

Physician applicants must have completed an ACGME accredited specialty and subspecialty residency training program and be a board certified or board eligible physician with an active, unrestricted license to practice medicine in the U.S. Residency training licenses are restricted licenses, so VHA cannot accept them. In addition, any international medical graduate must have an unexpired visa and an Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certificate that is valid indefinitely.  Pre-doctoral nurse applicants, prior to the beginning of the fellowship, must possess an unrestricted valid nurse license in any US state or territory, demonstrate current active enrollment in good standing or written acceptance in a nursing doctoral program (either PhD or DNP) at an academic institution associated with a nursing school accredited by either National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).  Post-doctoral nurse applicants, prior to the beginning of the fellowship, must possess an unrestricted valid registered nurse license in any US state or territory, have graduated (or completed all requirements for the award of degree) from a doctoral program at a recognized academic institution.  This can be a doctoral program in a clinical discipline such as nursing (PhD or DNP) or in a non-clinical field relevant to Health Care Quality (e.g. education, industrial psychology, anthropology, medical informatics, etc.).

Application Process

To apply, applicants must send a cover letter describing their experiences in quality improvement and a copy of their curriculum vitae to the site(s) of their choice.

VA  Quality Scholars Achievements

VA Quality Scholars Fellowship Program:Biographical Summaries
Graduating Second-Year Fellows
Presented on June 5, 2009

VA  Quality Scholars Fellowship Program Address List


Atlanta, GA

Director: Anne Tomolo, MD, MPH 
Nurse Scholar: Bethany Robertson, DNP

Atlanta VA Medical Center
1670 Clairmont Road
Decatur, GA 30033
Telephone 404-321-6111

Research Focus: Please contact site for more details

Birmingham, AL
Director: Carlos A. Estrada, MD, MS 
Co-Director: Medicine: Benjamin Taylor, MD, MPH 
Co-Director: Nursing: Patricia A. Patrician, PhD, RN, FAAN 
Administrative Officer: Lesleigh Harold 
Birmingham VA Medical Center
732 Faculty Office Tower
510 20th Street
South Birmingham, AL 35294-3407
Telephone 205-093-3081 ext. 6676

Research Focus: Please contact site for more details.

Cleveland, OH
Director: David Aron, MD, MS 
Senior Scholar, VA National Quality Scholars Fellowship Program
Associate Chief of Staff for Education (14W)
Louis Stokes VAMC Cleveland (W)
10701 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106
Telephone 216-421-3098


Research Focus: Please contact site for more details.

Iowa City, IA
Director: Peter Kaboli, MD, MS 
Administrative Officer: Bonnie Bootsmiller, PhD
Iowa City VA Medical Center
601 Highway 6 West
Iowa City, IA 52246-2208
Telephone 319-338-0581


Research Focus: Variations in health care delivery in vulnerable veterans; design and testing of innovative delivery models to improve access and quality.

Greater Los Angeles Health Care System  

Director: Lisa Rubenstein, MD, MSPH 

Nurse Scholar/Co-Director: Lynn Soban, PhD, MPH, RN 

Associate Director: David Ganz.MD, PhD 

Telephone 818-895-9449
Fax 818-895-5838

Telephone 818-891-7711 x9954

Fax 310-268-4842

VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
16111 Plummer St (152)
Sepulveda, CA 91343

Telephone 818-895-9449

Research Focus:  Please contact the site for more details

Nashville, TN
Director: Robert Dittus, MD, MPH 
Administrative Assistant: Debbie Berngard, MHA
VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System
1310 24th Avenue South (GRECC)
Nashville, Tennessee 37212
Telephone 615-873-8004
Fax 615-873-7981

Research Focus: Please contact site for more details.

San Francisco, CA
Physician Director: Sei Lee, M.D
Assistant to Director: Antonieta Santos-Kremling
Nurse Director: Margaret Wallhagen, PhD GNP
Administrative Officer: Leanora Royster 
Senior Scholar,
VA National Quality Scholars Fellowship Program
VA Medical Center
Bldg 1, Rm 220F
San Francisco, CA 94121-1598
Telephone 415-221-4810 ext.3562

Research Focus: prediction, prevention, diabetes care in frail elders

White River Junction, VT
Director: Greg Ogrinc, MD 
Co-Directors: Susan Reeves, RN,EdD, Nurse Senior Scholar
Vince Watts, MD, MPH,
Associate Director: Brenda Sirovich, MD, MS, Associate Director
Senior Scholar, VA National Quality
Scholars Fellowship Program
215 North Main Street
White River Junction, VT 05009-0001
Telephone 205-093-3081 ext. 6676
Telephone 802-295-9363 ext. 5072


Research Focus:: Medical Education, Scholarship of Quality Improvement

For additional Information:

VA Quality Scholars Program * In collaboration with the CECS' Health Care Improvement Leadership Development, the Veterans Health Administration has created the VA National Quality Scholars (VAQS) Fellowship Program. The Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences (CECS) at Dartmouth, established in 1989, is a locus of scientists and clinician-scholars from Dartmouth's medical and graduate schools who conduct cutting edge research on critical medical and health issues with the goal of measuring, organizing, and improving the health care system.

* External Link Disclaimer: Links marked with an asterisk ( * ) are external links. By clicking on these links, you will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked website. The link will open in a new window.