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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 the VA Quality Scholars (VAQS) 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. The VA Quality Scholars Fellowship Program offers scholars opportunities to become leaders with knowledge and skills to:

  • Improve health care delivery, health systems organization and management, and health professions education through interventions that exert positive influences in each domain
  • Apply the knowledge and methods of health care quality improvement to the care of individual patients and populations
  • Teach health professionals about healthcare improvement
  • Perform research and develop new knowledge for the ongoing improvement of the quality and value of healthcare services
  • Enrich VHA's and the Nation's clinical workforce with expertise in healthcare quality research and the application of healthcare quality improvement skills

Program Mission and Vision

The Mission of this fellowship program is to develop leaders, researchers, and educators who will:

  • Apply knowledge and methods of health care improvement for the care of Veterans
  • Innovate and continually improve healthcare within and outside of VA
  • Teach health professionals about quality improvement and patient safety
  • Perform scholarly activities that contribute new knowledge to the quality and value of healthcare

Upon completing this program, fellows will demonstrate competence in:

  • Interprofessional Collaboration and Teamwork
  • Improvement Methods and Skills
  • Organization and System Leadership for Quality and Safety
  • Research
  • Teaching and Learning

Program Overview

The VA Quality Scholars Program (VAQS) is one of the premier training programs in quality improvement and patient safety at the United States Department for Veterans Affairs. For over 15 years, VA Quality Scholars has served as an international bellwether for training healthcare professionals in quality improvement scholarship. Given the interprofessional nature of healthcare teams and the particularly prominent role of nursing in quality improvement and patient safety, the VA Office of Academic Affiliations, encouraged the integration of nurse fellows at all VAQS program sites. In 2009, the first doctoral-prepared nurses matriculated as VAQS program fellows. With support from the Quality and Safety Education for Nursing (QSEN), nursing faculty were integrated into each of VAQS sites. All VAQS sites were henceforth co-lead by a physician and nurse senior faculty scholar. Furthermore, a competitive program expansion occurred in 2012 and added two new sites, the Atlanta VA and the Greater Los Angeles VA, to the overall VAQS program. Both sites were chosen because of their strengths as leaders in interprofessional education. Today the VAQS program includes physicians and pre- and post-doctoral nurses as fellows who participate in an interprofessional fellowship curriculum.

The program includes eight sites in the United States and one affiliated site in Toronto, Canada linked together with the Coordinating Center in Houston, Texas and the Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA). Sites are linked electronically and meet weekly on an interactive webinar for learning, information sharing, and the development of a national quality improvement laboratory.

Coordinating Center:

Since 2015, the VA Quality Scholars Coordinating Center has been located at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas. The Coordinating Center is responsible for the development, administration and evaluation of the two-year national fellowship focused on quality improvement, patient safety, interprofessional teamwork and collaboration, as well as leadership and professional development. The Coordinating Center delivers formal, didactic curriculum to the sites weekly via interactive webinar and fosters opportunities for the fellows to collaborate nationally on interprofessional practicum projects. The Coordinating Center also leads the annual Summer Institute conference for all VA Quality Scholars fellows and faculty and assists with marketing and recruitment at the national level.


Fellows engage in research projects and experiential learning opportunities at their sites, as well as with the VAQS didactic curriculum. The VA Quality Scholars curriculum consists of four courses - Foundations of Quality, Quality Improvement Methods and Skills, Professional Development and Leadership, and Fellows' Forum. Each week, a course is presented through our virtual platform to each of our nine sites throughout North America. Fellows spend approximately 80 percent of their time in quality improvement research and education and approximately 20 percent in clinical activities.

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

Alumni of the VA Quality Scholars program impact health care quality inside the VA and beyond including leadership positions that directly work to improve healthcare. Accomplishments of VAQS alumni include faculty positions both within and outside VA, leaders in public health organizations, deans in medical education, Quality Management Officers in VA Networks, a Chief Medical Officer and Vice President for a private hospital, a VA National leader of Medication Reconciliation, a Director of Quality Improvement for the US Army, and a White House Fellow and Leader of Senior Corps.

VA  Quality Scholars Fellowship Program Address List



Atlanta, GA

Senior Faculty Scholars:
Anne Tomolo, MD, MPH 
Carolyn Clevenger, RN, DNP, AGPCNP-BC, GNP-BC, FAANP
Faculty Scholar:
Corrine Abraham, DNP, RN
Emeritus 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
Senior Faculty Scholars:
Patricia A. Patrician, PhD, RN, FAAN
Carlos A. Estrada, MD, MS 
Faculty Scholar:
Suzie Miltner 
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
Senior Faculty Scholars:
David Aron, MD, MS 
Mary Dolansky, PhD, RN  
Faculty Scholars:
Susan Phillips, DNP, MPH, PMHCNS 
Brook Watts, MD, MS 
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
Senior Faculty Scholars:
Jill Scott-Caweizell, RN, PhD, FAAN
Peter Kaboli, MD, MS 
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  
Senior Faculty Scholars:
Lynn Soban, PhD, MPH, RN 
Lisa Rubenstein, MD, MSPH 
Faculty Scholar:
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
Senior Faculty Scholars:
Robert Dittus, MD, MPH 
Catherine Ivory, PhD 
Faculty Scholars:
Lorraine Mion, PhD, RN
Carol Callaway-Lane, RN, MSN, ACNP-BC, DNP
Russel Rothman, MD, MPP
Christianne Roumie, MD, MPH
Ted Speroff, PhD
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
Senior Faculty Scholars:
Sei Lee, M.D
Margaret Wallhagen, PhD GNP
Tim Carmody, PhD
Faculty Scholars:
Jessica Eng, MD 
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
Senior Faculty Scholars:
Brant Oliver, PhD, MS, MPH, APRN-BC 
Louise Davies, MD, MS, FACS  
Faculty Scholars:
Philip Goodney, MD, MS 
Christine Rovinski, MSN, APRN 
Brenda Sirovich, MD, MS 
Emeritus Scholar: Greg Ogrinc, MD, MS 
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.