Advanced Fellowships and Professional Development - Office of Academic Affiliations
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Advanced Fellowships and Professional Development

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Alumni Testimonials

Physican Residents

The VA Advanced Fellowships Programs provide unique preparation for future leaders in healthcare as post-residency fellowships to physicians and dentists, advancing training for other health professions, and post-doctoral opportunities for scientists in areas of particular importance to VA and the Nation.  Where is your fellowship taking you?


Portrait of Clinton Wutzke, PhD

Name: Clinton Wutzke, PhD

Location: Washington DC VA Medical Center, Washington DC

Specialty: Movement Science; Sensorimotor Control in People with Acquired Brain Injury

Current Position:
Tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Rehabilitation Science Department at George Mason University

The fellowship at the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center provided me the opportunity to explore new techniques in the rehabilitation of people with neurological impairment. It also allowed me to work with and interact with leaders in the field of cutting-edge rehabilitation research and has significantly contributed in building the foundation for my future research endeavors. The program was also a tremendously beneficial experience in preparing me for the challenges of a tenure-track faculty position at a tier one research institution. I am where I am today in large part to the excellent experience and wonderful people in the Polytrauma/TBI Rehabilitation Research Program and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, DC.


Portrait of Melodie Isgro

Fellow: Melodie Isgro, MD

VA Advanced Fellowship: Interprofessional Advanced Fellowship in Addiction Treatment

Location: San Diego Veterans Affairs Healthcare System (SDVAHS)

Specialty: Addiction Medicine

In my Fellowship, I learned about how research grants are written and administered, which has helped with my current writing for clinical grants and managing them. My experiences in the VA’s Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program doing Outpatient Detox and Medication-Assisted Treatment established a strong knowledge base that I now use to implement these same programs at my current agency.  Lastly, the psychiatry clinics that I rotated through have expanded my ability to provide Dual-Diagnosis care to my Addiction patients.

Portrait of Jeffrey Haibach

Name: Jeffrey P. Haibach, PhD, MPH

VA Advanced Fellowship: Interprofessional Advanced Fellowship in Addiction Treatment

Location: Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, PA

Current Profession: Scientific Program Manager, VA Health Services Research and Development, Veterans Health Administration, Washington, DC

The VA fellowship was an excellent opportunity for me to transition from military service and earning a PhD in Community Health and Health Behavior to applying my background to promote Veteran health. In the fellowship, I received extensive training, mentorship, and worked in areas of research and service with Veterans. The most exciting and beneficial aspect of the fellowship was its interdisciplinary nature of working with a host of researchers, clinicians, other professionals, and Veterans locally through the national level.

Portrait of Megan Petrik

Name: Megan Petrik, PhD

VA Advanced Fellowship: Mental Illness Research, Education, Clinical Center (MIRECC)

Location: Rocky Mountain MIRECC, Denver VA Medical Center

Specialty: Health Psychology

Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School

The MIRECC fellowship was crucial in supporting my pursuit of a career in academic medicine. When applying for jobs, the advanced research training was highly valued by various departments and search committees. The professional development, grant writing, and scholarly resources that were a part of the MIRECC fellowship didactics also were helpful in creating support around these topics.

Portrait of Lauren Sippel, PhD
Name: Lauren Sippel, PhD

Location: VA Connecticut HCS/West Haven VA/National Center for PTSD Clinical Neurosciences Division

Specialty: PTSD Treatment and Research

Current Position: Associate Director for Research at the National Center for PTSD Executive Division

During fellowship, I learned so much about many domains of clinical psychology, such as grant-writing, applying evidence-based treatments, and using new research methods. Observing my mentors and supervisors flexibly working in all of these domains and asking them questions about their positions was very valuable in determining my career path. I had the opportunity to interface with professionals with many different backgrounds and career objectives, and think I learned a lot about the “big picture” of our field and related fields. This knowledge helps me tremendously in my new position, where I continue to learn more about our field every day. One bit of advice: while fellows often benefit from keeping their options open, which necessitates staying involved in a lot of different professional activities, I also suggest being as strategic as possible with your choices – it’s easy to get burnt out if you try to take advantage of every single opportunity that comes your way!

Portrait of Sarah Merriam, MD, MS

Name: Sarah Merriam, MD, MS

VA Advanced Fellowship: Advanced Fellowship in Women’s Health

Location: VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System

Specialty: Internal Medicine

Through fellowship I have been able to incorporate my passion for medical education, women’s health, and leadership into a variety of professional activities including direct supervision of residents, curriculum development, and scholarship. Using the skillset I’ve developed, I plan to continue working for Pittsburgh VA Medical Center as a clinician-educator in general internal medicine, providing clinical care to female Veterans and clinical and classroom teaching to medical students and house staff.

Portrait of Latricia Allen

Name: Latricia Allen, DPM, MPH, FACFOAM

VA Advanced Fellowship: Patient Safety

Location: James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, Tampa, FL

Specialty: Podiatry

While in the fellowship, I participated in a variety of patient safety activities such as: root cause analysis (RCA), simulation design and implementation training, research methods training, quality improvement chart abstraction project, and weekly lectures. The culmination of these activities has reinforced my knowledge regarding patient safety and provided a strong evidence-based patient safety foundation which has improved my research and clinical work. I am currently a HSR&D postdoctoral fellow and plan to continue to build on the knowledge and experience that I have gained from my patient safety fellowship to develop innovative research interventions aimed toward reducing the likelihood of limb loss in high risk Veterans with diabetes.

Portrait of Jessica Steed, MA, NCC, RMHCI

Fellow: Jessica Steed, MA, NCC, RMHCI

VA Advanced Fellowship: Health Professions Education Evaluation and Research Fellow

Location: SimLEARN National Simulation Center, Orlando, FL

Specialty: Mental Health Counseling

While in the fellowship, I have gained many educational and clinical experiences. Facilitating simulation courses, understanding the process of testing latent safety hazards and acting as subject matter expert for a new mental health training has broadened the possibilities of my career. I hope to continue working for Orlando VA Medical Center in a clinical capacity at the completion of the fellowship and implement mental health-specific training to provide our Veterans with the highest quality and access to care.