Alaska VA Healthcare System
This Anchorage-based program provides veterans with
primary, specialty and mental health care at its outpatient
clinics in four sites outside of Anchorage, the military hospital
at nearby Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and some
Stipend: The one-year program pays $23,974.
Interns are eligible for federal health and life
insurance benefits and paid holidays and
Who you’ll treat: While Anchorage’s
population is 70 percent white, the region
is also home to Alaska natives, American
Indians, Asian-Americans and Pacific
Islanders. The veterans’ needs are diverse,
including diabetes management, weight
counseling, smoking cessation, and treatment
for anxiety and depression, McQueen says.
Often, students work with veterans
returning from tours in Iraq and
Afghanistan. “There’s a huge opportunity to be trained in
caring for [veterans] with post-traumatic stress, in terms of
combat as well as military sexual trauma,” McQueen says.
What you’ll learn: Students who join the residential
rehabilitation rotation work in an interdisciplinary team to
treat newly admitted veterans with mental health and medical
conditions. In the outpatient mental health rotation, interns
provide psychological assessments and conduct individual and
group therapy sessions. The adult neuropsychology rotation
helps interns learn to evaluate patients with comorbid
neurological, medical and psychiatric conditions such as post-
concussion syndrome, chronic pain, stroke, traumatic brain
injuries and deployment-related adjustment difficulties.
plans in such areas as medical treatment compliance, weight
management, smoking cessation or mood disorders in
collaboration with resident physicians. Participation in clinical
research also is encouraged.
A typical week: Interns work three days a week with
up to 14 patients a day in their major rotation — family
medicine, pediatric behavioral medicine, physical medicine
or rehabilitation, to name a few. Interns also help physicians
improve their interpersonal skills in the school’s simulated
patient lab. One day a week, students work on their minor
rotation — sleep disorders or neuropsychology, for example.
Interns also spend half a day in seminars learning skills in
areas such as advanced personality assessment, multicultural
psychotherapy and psychopharmacology. Another half-day is
spent in a traditional outpatient therapy clinic.
Rebecca Voelker is a writer in Chicago.