Arkansas State Hospital (ASH)/University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Psychology Postdoctoral Fellowship in SMI

The goal of the program is to provide specialty training in the area of Serious Mental Illness (SMI).  The program emphasizes APA’s three core competencies for postdoctoral fellowships: Science and Practice, Diversity, and Ethics and Legal. Simultaneously, the training focuses on education and clinical work that is consistent with the APA Proficiency of Assessment and Treatment of Serious Mental Illness. The Proficiency model we follow outlines specific key elements of an SMI curriculum as well as specific assessment procedures and interventions essential for competence working with this population. At the completion of the training year, our fellows are expected to have developed independent-practice level skills in diagnosis, assessment, professional documentation (including report-writing and charting), individual and group therapy, research and scientific contributions, presenting for colleagues and direct-care staff, clinical supervision, and functioning in an interdisciplinary system.

The opportunities afforded at ASH include working with adults and adolescents who present with a range of behavioral and mental health issues. Common presenting issues at the hospital include acute and chronic psychotic disorders, behavioral disorders, trauma and stressor-related disorders, developmental disabilities, personality disorders, malingering, and various adjustment reactions.

ASH is a facility located within a larger medical community (including the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences [UAMS] and the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System) in midtown Little Rock, Arkansas. As ASH is a training facility, didactics and practice will occur alongside pre-doctoral psychology interns, forensic psychology postdoctoral fellows, medical and psychiatry trainees as well potentially social work interns, nursing students, and psychology practicum students.

Clinical Experiences 

The training week is divided into various types of clinical work on different inpatient units. While the fellow will be based out of the hospital’s training unit (Unit Alpha), he or she will also have clinical and research experience on other units serving adult civil and forensic patients. Additionally, training experiences with adolescents with SMI on the Adolescent Inpatient unit will be offered.

Adult SMI Training: Training takes place on the hospital’s adult inpatient units which treat patients with civil or forensic commitment orders receiving psychiatric treatment. The treatment focus on these units is more serious psychopathological conditions. An emphasis is placed on psychological assessment and specialized inpatient group therapy techniques. Fellows will participate in treatment planning meetings, co-leading group therapy with their supervisors, conducting comprehensive psychological evaluations, neuropsychological evaluations, and violence risk assessments, collaborating on research projects, and developing individualized behavior modification plans. Neuropsychological testing is conducted from referrals throughout the hospital and, on rare occasions, outpatient forensic cases. Fellows will also conduct individual therapy, develop treatment groups, and lead staff training.

Adolescent Training: Select training takes place on the Adolescent Inpatient Treatment unit. On this unit, fellows could potentially be involved in the following clinical activities: psychological assessments, individual therapy, milieu therapy, and behavior modification plans.

Other Opportunities for Exposure: The ASH Psychology Department offers exposure to forensic psychological evaluations. Specifically, these types of evaluations include competency to stand trial (fitness to proceed), criminal responsibility, culpable mental state at the time of the offense, violence risk assessment, and evaluation of a defendant’s capacity to be restored to fitness. The SMI fellow would have the opportunity to observe these evaluations on occasion and, schedule permitting, attend Forensic Seminar.

ASH also offers opportunities to get exposure to health psychology interventions, more intensive research projects, sex offender treatment, family psychoeducation, Illness Management and Recovery, Social Skills Training, substance abuse treatment, and trauma-focused work.

Didactic Seminars

Fellows are required to attend at least five hours of didactics per month. Using the APA Proficiency guidelines, fellows can select from a range of didactic opportunities including: SMI Fellowship Seminars, Intern Seminars, Forensic Didactics and Case Conferences, ASH Psychopharmacology Conference, Journal Club, Psychiatry Resident Lectures, Medical Student Lectures, and UAMS Grand Rounds. Supervisors and other psychology department staff members present to trainees on a wide variety of professional and clinical topics. These presentations provide more in-depth information on important clinical issues such as Ethics, Diversity, Evidence-Based Treatment, Research, and Supervision in addition to other clinical and legal topics. Fellows will also be expected to present at the Intern Seminar, at the Psychology Department meeting, and at the ASH-wide Psychopharmacology Conference (comparable to Grand Rounds).

Supervision

Fellows are assigned a primary training supervisor on each unit where they are receiving clinical training. Fellows also have a primary, long-term supervisor with whom they meet for one hour weekly throughout the year to discuss professional development and individual therapy clients. The fellow will receive a minimum of two hours of individual supervision per week. Additional supervision can take various forms including co-therapy and co-assessment with supervisors, review of test data and written reports, working on research projects with a supervisor, feedback based on observation, and modeling by the supervisor.

Feedback on performance is a continuous part of the supervision process. At 2 months, 4 months, 8 months, and 12 months, an evaluation of the fellow will be completed and reviewed with the fellow. The fellow will also rate the quality of the experience for each training experience, including the supervision received during the rotation. These ratings are reviewed by the Fellowship Training Director and the Chief of Psychology, and the program is committed to considering feedback and incorporating suggested changes to improve the training quality and fellowship experience.

Most supervisors are eclectic in orientation. The following link is a list of current psychology supervisors with their areas of special interests and competencies. Not all supervisors are directly involved in the SMI fellowship but may be available for other shadowing or training exposure.

For a list of Psychology Supervisors click Psychology Supervisors

Stipends and Benefits

The stipend for the 12-month, UAMS appointment from 2018-2019 is $42,000. Fringe benefits include 11 holidays, 22.5 vacation days, 12 sick leave days as needed, and optional health insurance and retirement plans (PLEASE NOTE: Insurance coverage does not become effective until the first day of the month following hire and ends on the last day of employment unless the intern elects to have COBRA). More information is available at the UAMS Human Resources website. A limited number of educational leave days can also be negotiated with the Training Director for EPPP,  conference attendance, and other relevant professional activities. UAMS employees are paid on the last day of each month.

Eligibility and Application

To be considered a postdoctoral fellow, the individual must have met all requirements for their doctoral degree, including successful defense of the doctoral dissertation (which includes submission and final approval by the dissertation committee of any changes requested at the time of the dissertation defense). The fellow must also obtain provisional licensure status with the Arkansas Psychology Board. Because this can be a lengthy process, it is highly recommended that the individual begin this process once he or she has accepted the fellowship position. Hour accrual does not begin until the provisional license is granted. Credentialing within the hospital is another condition of employment.

Applicants completing APA-accredited internship programs with a background in Clinical or Counseling Psychology are preferred. The training committee is accepting applications now. Please contact the Training Director with questions. On-site visits are not required but highly encouraged; however, telephone interviews may be arranged as an alternative to in-person visits.

Fellowship applicants should submit 1) a cover letter, 2) graduate school transcripts, 3) three letters of recommendation, 4) a curriculum vita, and 5) a deidentified psychological report. Applicants are accepted regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, handicap, veteran status, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. All persons selected for new employment or a change in employment within DHS must submit to a drug test, a criminal background check, and a maltreatment history check, as a pre-condition of employment.

The training year will begin September 3, 2018 and conclude August 30, 2019.

Contact Info

Brittani Baldwin Gracey, PsyD
SMI Fellowship Training Director
501-251-6556

Brittani.Baldwin@dhs.arkansas.gov