Trainees’ Perceptions of the Veterans Health Administration Interprofessional Psychology Fellowships in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health

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Abstract

To improve the capacity to provide quality health care to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) veterans and promote LGBT cultural competence among clinical staff, the United States Veterans Health Administration (VHA) competitively awarded 9 1-year interprofessional postdoctoral psychology fellowships in LGBT health. The interprofessional training model, which involves working with and learning from other disciplines, mirrors the VHA’s approach to integrate LGBT services across clinical programs. Fellows’ experiences and satisfaction with their training were examined for the first 2 years of the fellowships. Despite variability in clinical and staff educational activities across sites, all fellows reported strong satisfaction with their training experience. The fellows described considerable exposure to other disciplines, working most often with primary care physicians, nurses, and social workers in addition to psychologists. Fellows most enjoyed creating new clinical services and programs for LGBT veterans that would remain after their fellowship year. Consistent with VHA’s goal for training programs, the majority of fellows planned to remain in the federal health-care system, having accepted staff positions at a VHA facility or other federal agency. The VHA psychology fellowships in LGBT health appear to be feasible and successful and may serve as a model for fellowships in LGBT health in other agencies or for other disciplines such as primary care, social work, nursing, or endocrinology.

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