Behavioral Health Physician Assistant Fellowship

Overview

The Denver Health Physician Assistant Post-graduate Fellowship in Behavioral Health will provide an intense, well-rounded, 12 months of clinical and didactic training to facilitate a successful career as a behavioral health physician assistant. Fellows will engage in core training in behavioral health to achieve the fellowship’s mission to develop physician assistants with expertise in the clinic care of patients with psychiatric and substance use disorders. Upon completion of this program, PA fellows will have the knowledge and skills necessary to make them successful practitioners of behavioral health in a variety of clinical settings, and will be prepared to apply for the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) Psychiatry Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ).

Curriculum Experience & Objectives

Inter-professional faculty designed an evidence-based curriculum for physician assistants who successfully complete an accredited physician assistant program. Behavioral health PA fellows will rotate through four core training areas, for three months in each rotation. At the conclusion of each rotation, PA fellows should be able to:
 

Rotation

Learning Objectives

Consultation-liaison psychiatry
  • evaluate, diagnose, and manage psychiatric and substance use disorders in a medical setting
  • understand the connection between medical and psychiatric conditions
  • understand and effectively use the role of a psychiatric consultant
  • demonstrate understanding of psychiatric and substance treatment systems
  • manage behavioral health issues in multiple medical settings (e.g. medicine, intensive care, surgical, adults, pediatrics) with appropriate supervision
 
Psychiatric emergency services
  • evaluate, diagnose, and manage psychiatric and substance use disorders in the emergency setting
  • manage aggression, agitation, intoxication, mania, suicidal ideation/behavior, and withdrawal in the emergency setting
  • know and use community resources including alternatives to inpatient hospitalization
  • know and use verbal de-escalation and demonstrate awareness of safety in the emergency setting
 
Corrections
  • evaluate, diagnose, and manage psychiatric and substance use disorders in the correctional setting
  • understand ethical issues in correctional mental health
  • manage aggression, detoxification, and medication misuse in the correctional setting
  • conduct suicide assessments and manage suicidal ideation/behavior in the correctional setting
  • understand the treatment of patients with sex offenses
  • understand correctional resources and interventions related to mental health
 
Outpatient behavioral health
  • evaluate, diagnose, and manage psychiatric and substance use disorders in the outpatient setting
  • provide motivational interviewing with proficiency to patients with substance use disorders
  • prescribe buprenorphine and methadone safely and appropriately
  • demonstrate basic understanding of how to manage perinatal addiction
  • know and use community resources appropriately
  • demonstrate understanding of regulatory issues in psychiatry care
 

In addition to rotational experience, PA fellows will engage in weekly seminars, case conferences, faculty meetings, and grand rounds. They will participate in bi-weekly journal club meetings facilitated by an addiction psychiatrist, and will have one half-day per week dedicated to developing an academic project related to advocacy, community engagement, quality improvement, or scholarly work.

Admission Requirements

Important Dates

  • The program has the following start dates: Sept. 1, Dec. 1, March 1, and June 1. Application deadlines are four months prior to the start date.
  • A DEA license must be obtained within the first 90 days of starting in the program.

Requirements & Eligibility

Criteria for admission include demonstration of empathy, compassion, and excellence in medicine. The fellowship values a diverse workforce. A competitive application process selects physician assistants based on the following:

  • Graduation from a PA program approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
  • Colorado PA licensure or eligibility
  • Official transcripts from colleges/universities and the PA program
  • Current Curriculum Vitae
  • Three professional letters of recommendation
  • Personal interview

Additional Information

  • Maximum class size of 2 fellows per year
  • Stipend $60,000 for the one-year program
  • To start the application process, contact Michelle Gaffaney, Behavioral Health PA Fellowship Associate Program Director: Michelle.Gaffaney@dhha.org

Contact the Program

If we can provide you with any further information, please contact us.

Christian Thurstone, MD
Program Director
Christian.Thurstone@dhha.org

Michelle Gaffaney, PA
Associate Program Director
Michelle.Gaffaney@dhha.org

Shelby Bryant
Fellowship Administrative Support
Shelby.Bryant@dhha.org