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Training Opportunities

Here is a list of training opportunities available at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Health Care System.

Charleston VA Quality Scholars Fellowship (VAQS)

The Mission of our Charleston VAQS fellowship is to recruit and train future clinical leaders, researchers, and innovators specially equipped to improve access to healthcare and to promote equity in health services and outcomes for all Veterans, focused on healthcare improvement and implementation science. 

The VAQS is an interprofessional fellowship program designed for physicians, nurses, and other clinicians. The VAQS program was established in 1999 by the Veterans Health Administration in collaboration with Dartmouth faculty and researchers and is currently offered at 12 VA Medical Centers nationally. The fellowship is a 2-year residential program which links individualized training at each site with cross-site learning experiences convened by a national coordinating Center located at the Houston (TX) VAMC. The Mission of our Charleston VAQS fellowship is to recruit and train future clinical leaders, researchers, and innovators specially equipped to improve access to healthcare and to promote equity in health services and outcomes for all Veterans, focused on healthcare improvement and implementation science. Our curriculum supplements the VAQS core curriculum with didactic and experiential learning opportunities in the areas of population health, social determinants of health, and vulnerable Veteran populations, including female Veterans, racial/ethnic minority populations, and rural Veterans. Fellows are given individualized learning opportunities through Master’s-level training in public health, clinical research methods, or clinical informatics based on learner-specified goals. We offer up to 3 positions per year for fellows to work with senior scholars in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and clinical psychology. 

 Application Deadline: 

Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis annually beginning October 1st and ending March 1st 

Our current Fellows: 

 Alexander Booth, MD
 General Surgery
Dr. Bryant is currently working on a project entitled: Identification of Disparities in Healthcare Delivery for VA Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The project will determine whether there are differences in how VA services for IBD care are utilized, and whether those differences in utilization can explain potential disparities in surgical outcomes for IBD.

Will Bryant, PhD, MA

Clinical Psychology

Dr. Bryant is conducting a quality improvement initiative to expand the local referral network for the LGBTQ+ Veteran health education group, PRIDE in All Who Served. After VAQS, he plans on transitioning to a Health Services Research Fellowship here at Ralph H. Johnson VA Health Care System to pursue further training in LGBTQ+ Veteran health research.

Davis Austria, DNP, MSN, MBA, RN-BC, PMP

Nursing Informatics

Dr. Austria is currently working on three projects,  Right Patient – Right Tray, CareCentra/VA Smart Use of Behavioral Economics (Nudging) for Management of Chronic Disease Conditions (Diabetes, Hypertension and Depression/Suicide), and eScreening Implementation in CBOCs 

Chelsea Gundlach-Taylor, DNP-FNP-C, BSN, RN


Dr. Chelsea McConnell is currently working on a project entitled: Increasing Pneumovax Vaccination Rates at a VA Primary Care Clinic. She was part of a root cause analysis team bringing delirium assessment and protocol to medical surgical floors at the VA using the IHI Age Friendly Health System 4Ms: What matters, Medication, Mentation and Mobility. 

New fellows joining July 2022: Bobbi Pino-y-Torres, DNP and Shannon Smith, PhD  

Program Contact: 

Charlene Pope B.S.N, Ph.D., C.N.M, M.P.H 

Chief Nurse for Research 

VA Charleston health care 

Phone: 843-789-6577 


National Site: VA Quality Scholars | Developing Leaders & Scholars to Improve Healthcare (

Charleston VA Health Service Research Fellowship (VA HSR) 

The Mission of our Charleston HSR fellowship is to recruit and train future health services researchers and innovators specially equipped for operations-partnered research and evaluation to improve access to and equity in health and healthcare for all Veterans. 

There is increasing demand for a health services research (HSR) workforce with skills that transcend traditional HSR methodologies. The Charleston Health Service Research Fellowship aims to develop this next generation of health system scientists who can collaborate with operational partners; understand implementation and dissemination science; utilize ‘big data’ to provide novel insight; espouse more relevant economic analysis methods; and keep pace with private sector technology innovations. Our program accepts clinician and non-clinician scientists for a 2-year post-doctoral fellowship training program that teaches the core competencies of the Learning Healthcare System, which endeavors to generate and apply best evidence for collaborative healthcare choices; to drive discovery as a natural outgrowth of patient care; and to ensure innovation, quality, safety, and value in healthcare. In addition, our program provides specialized training in health equity, access to care and rural health, and partnered research. This is accomplished through structured mentoring, didactic instruction in various settings, interdisciplinary group learning, and experiential learning through clinical practice, project-based work, and scholarly activities. 

Our current Fellows: 

New fellows joining July 2022: Will Bryant, PhD and Cory Stanton, PhD

Program Director: 

Kelly J. Hunt, Ph.D. (  

Program Co-Director: 

R. Neal Axon, MD (  

Application Deadline: 

Yearly on March 1st 

VA Advanced Fellowship in Mental Illness Research and Treatment (MIRECC)

The MIRECC Psychology Fellowship Program at the Charleston VAMC supports the professional development of research-focused psychologists to become clinical researchers in the innovative approaches to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its comorbidities. 

Over the course of the two-year program, fellows receive intensive mentoring and didactics in clinical research competencies such as grant writing, research design, and ethics while receiving supervised clinical training in cutting-edge treatments and programs. The Charleston VAMC’s Advanced Fellowship Program is affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). 

The fellows’ 40-hour work week is comprised of approximately 10-15 hours/week in supervised, direct service delivery, 25-30 hours/week in clinical research activities, and 4 hours/week of didactics (including 2 hours of face-to-face, individual supervision from a licensed psychologist for clinical and research activities). In addition, up to 5 hours/week of administrative experiences may be offered to support the fellow’s professional growth and individual goals. In collaboration with research mentors, fellows are expected to develop and implement a research pilot project, publish and present findings, and utilize the latest technology for educational activities and clinical service delivery. The application for independent federal grant funding by fellows is strongly encouraged (e.g., VA Career Development Award). 

Our current Fellows: 

Danielle Taylor, PhD


Dr. Taylor’s research focuses on evaluating mechanisms and consequences of anxiety, trauma, and related disorders utilizing psychophysiological techniques (EEG, heart rate, skin conductance, etc.). She recently has extended this line of work to incorporate neuromodulation and has secured a pilot grant to evaluate an emerging brain stimulation technique, transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS), using multi-modal psychophysiology.                          

Alyssa Jones, PhD


Dr. Jones' research program is focused on the role of affective vulnerabilities (e.g., emotion regulation difficulties) and specific emotions (e.g., shame, guilt, disgust) in the development and maintenance of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to inform treatment innovation. She is currently working on a project studying disgust as a predictor of treatment outcomes among Veterans seeking treatment for PTSD. While on postdoc, she plans to pursue grant funding to test novel interventions for trauma-related shame and disgust among Veterans with PTSD.

Andrea Massa, PhD

Clinical Psychology

Dr. Massa is currently working on two projects, examining the roles of PTSD and alcohol misuse in predicting aggressive behavior and the role of emotion dysregulation in trauma- and alcohol-related intimate partner aggression.

Program Directors: 
Dan Gros, Ph.D. (

Elizabeth Santa Ana, Ph.D. (  

Application Deadline: 

Yearly on October 1st 

Brochure: MIRECC Fellowship in Innovative Approaches to PTSD and Its Comorbidities - Charleston (DOCX) 

National Site: MIRECC/CoE VA Advanced Fellowship in Mental Illness Research and Treatment - MIRECC / CoE    

If you are a Veteran and you are interested in research at the Charleston VAMC and its impact on the healthcare of Veterans and you would like to inquire on how to serve on the VREB, please contact or