Program Summary and Highlights-From the Co-Training Directors, Christian Lemmon, PhD
& Sarra Nazem, PhD
The Augusta University/Medical College of Georgia(AU/MCG)/Charlie Norwood Veterans
Affairs Medical Center Psychology Internship was formed in 1982. Through the years
our faculty have shared a deep commitment to our common missions of educating our
future health care professionals, striving for compassionate and excellent clinical
service, and advancing science. For 39 years, it has been fascinating and exciting
to see so many trainees progress to careers of accomplishment and meaning. Integral
to our internship training have been joint educational and clinical service activities
with primary care physicians, psychiatrists and other physician specialists, nurses,
social workers, and other allied health professionals. In addition, our training program
has been strengthened and enhanced by the enduring partnership of the AU/MCG and the
Department of Veterans Affairs.
Training Model: Our training model focuses on four primary facets of training in the development of
professional psychologists: (1) Training in the implementation of essential practice skills in key field settings; (2) Training in an empirical approach to practice (fostering attitudes of empiricism
and reflection); (3) Training in the provision of care for underserved populations and areas; and (4) Training of recovery-oriented care that emphasizes the processes of Connectedness,
Hope and optimism about the future, Identity, Meaning in life, and Empowerment.
Overview of the Organization of the Internship: Two required 4-month rotations:
The General Practice Rotation – Clinical training sites include the Uptown VA, AU/MCG,
AU Summerville campus, or East Central Regional Hospital. This rotation focuses on
opportunities for development of psychological assessment skills, skills pertaining
to rapid assessment, de-escalation/stabilization, and triaging of individuals with
acute psychiatric conditions, co-leadership of time-limited evidence-based psychotherapy
groups and, individual, couple and family psychotherapies.
The Integrated Health Psychology Rotation – Clinical training sites include the Uptown
VA, Downtown VA and AU/MCG sites. Located in many inpatient and outpatient medical
settings spread across the VAMC, the AU/MCG hospitals and clinics and the AU/MCG Children’s
Hospital of Georgia, this rotation focuses on acquiring skills that will enable psychology
interns to apply fundamental psychological assessment and treatment principles to
health care settings with a goal of training interns to function independently in
interdisciplinary health care settings.
One 4-month Emphasis Track Rotation:
Selected prior to entry into the internship program, the Emphasis Track Rotations
allow interns to experience more focused training opportunities that are consistent
with their long-range career interests. At present there are six Track choices available,
Child & Family Track
Forensic Psychology Track
HIV & LGBTQ Health Disparities Track
Clinical Health Psychology Track
Psychology of Women Track
Trauma Psychology Track
In addition to the 4-month Emphasis Track Rotation, each Wednesday of the week for
the entire year is also devoted to emphasis training within your chosen track rotation
thereby facilitating more depth and continuity in this aspect of your training experience.
Seminars and Other Educational Opportunities:
There are three required seminars that meet on Thursdays:
The Diagnostic/Treatment Seminar meets weekly for eleven months of the year and includes
application of a “Problem-Based Learning” (PBL) model. The PBL approach to learning
employs a clinical case/problem as the vehicle of learning and demands development
of clinical/scientific reasoning.
The Psychotherapy Process Seminar meets for the entire year and provides a laboratory
to develop skills of empiricism and reflection in the nonparticipant mode of peer
supervision and in the participant mode of a live therapy session presentation. Each
Intern, along with the faculty/seminar directors, take turns presenting a live psychotherapy
case. Didactics for the seminar focus upon: (a) Common factors in psychotherapy; (b)
Supervision, and; (c) Therapy termination. Note: These seminars also facilitate a 10-week course (two hours per week) that reviews
Cognitive Behavior Therapy and introduces ACT; this process includes joint psychology
and psychiatry residency training activities.
The Professional Issues Seminar is devoted to didactics and discussions related to
the professional development of the Intern. The seminar primarily focuses on the non-therapy
aspects of being a psychologist.
Other Educational Opportunities:
Psychiatry Grand Rounds are held twice per month and are part of AU/MCG Department
of Psychiatry & Health Behavior’s Grand Rounds series that features guest speakers
of prominence from the region and nation providing continuing education reviews of
important clinical topics germane to the fields of psychiatry and psychology.
Half to full day workshops are typically provided several times each year on topics
including objective assessment techniques, empirically validated psychotherapy, trauma
related therapies, cultural diversity issues in psychology, ethics, etc.
Intern Research/Scholarly time is facilitated by providing 4 hours of dedicated time
each week for scholarly activities. This time can be used for dissertation efforts,
if not yet completed. Interns must produce a scholarly paper, either from the dissertation
or from internship-related research activities, that is of publishable quality by
May of the internship year.
Diversity training is embedded in all internship training activities. This is done
overtly in seminar topics (i.e., race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity,
religion, class, age, political party, region, and military/veteran status), patient
populations (e.g., HIV-positive patients, veterans, adolescents and children, patients
with serious mental illness, forensic patients, persons of color, sexual minorities),
and supervision. Commitment to discussions of privilege, power, and intersectionality,
including the role and influence of sociopolitical factors, is a training priority,
and a value that underlies all training program activities.
Overall Supervisor - Due to the complexity of internship training and the diverse interests and educational
needs of interns entering internship training, the AU/MCG-Charlie Norwood VAMC Internship
provides an Overall Supervisor (OS) for each intern prior to the beginning of the
internship. The OS is charged with the duty to develop an understanding of the unique
educational needs and interests of the Intern and to develop and monitor a year-long
strategy to maximize the training experiences available.
Practicum Experiences and Supervision - The Rotational/Track supervisors are responsible for establishing and communicating
clear educational goals for the rotational/track experience, identifying and delegating
appropriate clinical assessment/treatment cases for the Intern, supervising all clinical/professional
activities on the rotation/track, maintaining on-site presence during all Intern clinical
encounters, verifying the accuracy and timeliness of all clinical documentation, and
providing routine verbal and written feedback regarding the Intern’s rotation/track
Case Supervisor - If special expertise is needed on a particular case, or if the Intern has a special
interest in working with a faculty person, a Case Supervisor can be added to the intern’s
supervisory experiences at any time.
Mentor - After the Intern gets to know the faculty, we encourage, but do not require, the Intern
to seek a personal mentor relationship with a faculty person. This faculty mentor
functions as an informal counselor, advisor, ombudsman, role model, advocate and ally
for the intern.
Strengths of the Program:
Faculty Committed to Training - Over 40 licensed psychologists that serve as supervisors
or other training contributors. Additionally, nearly all supervisors are also working
as practicing clinicians who are regularly implementing similar empirically validated
treatment strategies to those also being utilized by the interns. Availability of
Diverse Clinical Experiences across multiple interdisciplinary care settings including:
Augusta University/Medical College of Georgia: Adult Consultation/Liaison (C/L) Service, Children’s Hospital of Georgia (CHOG)
Pediatric C/L Service, Infectious Disease Clinics (Adult and Pediatric), Adult and
Pediatric GI Clinics, Cardiovascular Clinic, Cancer Center, Pediatric Diabetes Clinic,
Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior - Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic, Augusta
University Employee and Faculty Assistance Program
Augusta University Student Counseling & Psychological Services(SCAPS): SCAPS provides mental health services for all students attending Augusta University.
East Central Georgia Regional Hospital (ECRH): Forensic Unit, General Mental Health Unit
Charlie Norwood VAMC: Primary Care Mental Health Integration (General), Primary Care Mental Health Integration
(Women's Mental Health), Blind Rehabilitation Inpatient Unit, Chronic Pain Program,
Geriatric Service, Outpatient General Mental Health Service, TBI Polytrauma Evaluation
Clinic, Trauma Recovery Clinic, Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Unit, Neuropsychological
Assessment, Suicide Prevention Program
High Intern Ratings for Training Experience - 10-year data collected from post-intern
graduates indicate consistently high ratings of the quality of the training experience:
Quality of the Supervision: 62% Superior 38% Excellent
Overall Quality of the Training Experience: 68% Superior 28% Excellent 4% Good
Intern Scholarly Productivity - During their internship training, the last 11 classes
of interns produced 78 scientific publications, submitted an additional 103 papers
for publication, and presented 137 papers/posters at national/regional meetings
Intern success in getting postdoctoral positions - For the past 11 intern classes,
more than 91 percent of all our graduates and 100 percent of the graduates seeking
postdoctoral fellowships/faculty positions obtained postdoctoral fellowships in their
desired area of study or faculty positions upon completion of our program
Diverse Career Paths - from 2007 to 2017, internship graduates have embarked on diverse
39% VAMC staff psychology positions, 18% Academic Medical Center faculty positions,
14% Independent practice, 12% Graduate School faculty positions, 8% Primary Care psychology
positions, 9% Other (e.g., mental health/psychiatric center, general hospital, research)
Augusta, Georgia – aside from the home of the Masters Golf Tournament, Augusta is
a city with very affordable housing, mild winters, numerous outdoor recreational activities,
relatively low crime rates, a variety of good restaurants, close proximity to Atlanta,
the northern Georgia mountains, Asheville, and the Beaches of South Carolina and Georgia
and virtually no traffic problems.