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. A longitudinal, outpatient rotation will also be offered through the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus to further build long term medication management and therapy skills. Behavioral Health PA Fellows will be responsible for transportation to the University of Colorado Medical Center in Aurora, CO, one half day per week for this experience. At the conclusion of each rotation, PA fellows should be able to:

 

Rotation

Learning Objectives

Inpatient Psychiatry (Child/Adolescent, Adult Inpatient,   Psychiatry Consultation-Liaison, Addiction Consults)

  • Evaluate, diagnose, and manage acute psychiatric and substance use disorders in the child/adolescent and adult populations
  • Understand the connection between medical and psychiatric conditions
  • 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
  • Know and use community resources appropriately
  • Demonstrate understanding of regulatory issues in psychiatry care
 

In addition to rotational experience, PA fellows will engage in a Didactic Curriculum including weekly lectures on psychiatric topics, journal club, faculty meetings, and grand rounds. Fellows will also 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 the PA program
  • Current Curriculum Vitae
  • Three professional letters of recommendation
  • Personal interview (please note, we ask that all applicants have passed the PANCE prior to interview)

Additional Information

  • Maximum class size of 4 fellows per year
  • Stipend $60,000 for the one-year program
  • To start the application process, please apply here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What types of jobs have graduates done after the fellowship?

  • We are proud to report that all graduates have obtained behavioral health jobs prior to graduating the fellowship. Postgraduate jobs include outpatient substance treatment programs, private practice child/adolescent psychiatry, outpatient integrated behavioral health, correctional behavioral health, and emergency psychiatric services. Employment opportunities may be available at Denver Health after graduation. Of the graduates who have taken the NCCPA Psychiatry CAQ, all have passed on the first attempt.

2. What benefits are offered during the fellowship?

  • All PA fellows are hired as Denver Health employees and are offered employee benefits including paid holidays, 20 days of PTO, medical and dental insurance, 401(a), long-term and short-term disability benefits, $2500 CME/education funds, along with additional benefits. Please see for full list of benefits.

3. How many fellows are selected each cycle?

  • Currently, we select 1 fellow per cycle for a total of 4 fellows per year. 

4. If I am not selected in the current cycle, can I re-apply?

  • Yes! Competitive applicants will be invited to re-apply for the next cycle. 

5. Can I talk to a current fellow or program graduate to learn more about their experience?

6. Can I work another job during the fellowship?

  • We expect fellows to participate in all clinical and didactic experiences to successfully complete the program. Clinical experience averages 40 hours per week and includes some night and weekend shifts that may interfere with other work. Fellows should also expect after-hour studying and reading to prepare for clinical and didactic work.

 

Program Faculty 

Kenneth Novoa, MD
Medical Director
Kenneth.Novoa@dhha.org

Michelle Gaffaney, PA-C
Program Director
Michelle.Gaffaney@dhha.org

Francine Ramirez
Fellowship Administrative Support
Franicine.Ramirez@dhha.org