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Durham Center of Innovation to ADAPT

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Durham VA Quality Scholars Program

The Durham VA Quality Scholars Program is a two-year interdisciplinary fellowship program for health professionals that offers applied training in advanced quality improvement, implementation science, and health services research. Fellows participate in a premier national network of leaders and scholars in healthcare improvement. Funded by the VA Office of Academic Affiliations, the Durham program is a partnership between the Durham Veterans Affairs Health System and the Duke University Health System.  The Durham VA Quality Scholars Program is built around three main areas of focus: • Quality Improvement Practice • Mentored Scholarship  • Interprofessional Education and Collaboration The two-year fellowship will provide a full-time stipend along with a variety of advanced clinical, educational, and research opportunities within the VA, Duke, and the Durham community. ELIGIBLITY • Possess either a MD, RN or PT with doctoral degree or a PhD in Psychology • Complete a clinical requirement allowing for independent clinical practice by date of entry in the program APPLICATION PROCESS Submit a CV and two letters of recommendation along with a one-page purpose statement describing interest and career goals related to QI/Implementation Science. Contact for Application and Logistics: Elizabeth Strawbridge 919-286-0411 17-7989 Program Contacts: Karen Goldstein, MD, MPH, Senior Physician Scholar Eleanor McConnell, PhD, RN, Senior Nurse Scholar Website:

As of 2018, the Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System, the Duke University Health System and the Duke University Schools of Medicine and Nursing have been selected as one of just 12 sites nationally to participate in a VA health care quality improvement fellowship program.

The VA Quality Scholars Program offers a two-year fellowship which uses a unique interdisciplinary approach that applies advanced quality improvement, clinical and research approaches to improve health care delivery systems and patient outcomes. The program’s intent is to develop the next generation of leaders who will improve patient safety and healthcare delivery through innovation and quality improvement.

The Durham VA Quality Scholars program is built around four main areas of focus:

  1. Quality Improvement Practice
  2. Implementation Science
  3. Informatics
  4. Statistical Methodology

Over the two-year fellowship, fellows will:

  • Complete a rigorous national quality improvement curriculum run by the VAQS coordinating center in Houston, TX.
  • Acquire additional academic and professional training tailored to individual interests and skill sets to prepare the fellow for future leadership in quality improvement/implementation science
  • Participate in meaningful local and national quality improvement efforts linked to fellow’s clinical area of interest and expertise
  • Attend and present at annual national meetings of VAQS fellows, senior scholars and experts from the field
  • Receive mentorship from national leaders in quality improvement and implementation science based at the Durham VA
  • Maintain 20% clinical practice

VAQS is funded by the Office of Academic Affairs in the Veterans Health Administration. The 2-year fellowship will provide a full-time stipend along with a variety of advanced clinical, educational and research opportunities within the VA, Duke and the Durham community. It is open to physicians, doctorally-prepared nurses, physical therapists and psychologists who will have completed their clinical training by entry into the program and are eligible for independent practice. Priority will be given to applications received by November 30, 2023.

For questions about the Durham VAQS program, please contact


The application process has a rolling deadline and offers are extended when a strong candidate has applied, met the qualifications, and is recommended by the program faculty.

Eligibility Criteria

Prospective candidates for the  Durham VA Quality Scholars Program must meet the broad eligibility requirements listed on the national VA Quality Scholar website and meet all criteria under the relevant clinical profession: physician, nurse, clinical psychology, or associated health.

Initial Inquiry

An initial discussion will clarify the candidate’s career goals and assess the appropriateness of the VA Quality Scholars Program for their training. This discussion will also address questions the candidate might have regarding the program.

Interested and eligible candidates are encouraged to contact the program directors, Karen Goldstein, MD or Eleanor McConnell, PhD, RN or the senior psychology scholar, Patrick Calhoun, PhD, or the senior physical therapy scholar, Adam Goode, DPT, PhD. Each of these individuals can be reached through the ADAPT Education Coordinator, Elizabeth Strawbridge, MPH, RD at, or by reaching out directly to the faculty member.

Formal Application

If the candidate wishes to make a formal application to the program, the next step is to submit a CV and letter of interest in the program to the program director. Following receipt of these materials, the program director, deputy director, and relevant senior scholar (depending on the clinical profession of the applicant) discuss the candidate’s qualifications and career fit for the program. If it is determined that there is an appropriate fit and that the candidate has the appropriate qualifications, then interviews are scheduled with the program faculty.

Selection Process

Following interviews, a recommendation is made by each of the program faculty with regard to extending an offer to join the program as a Quality Scholar fellow. In the case that multiple qualified and strong applicants are under consideration, the faculty rank order the candidates and a summary rank are used to determine the order of extending an offer to join the program. We seek to matriculate three new scholars each year with not more than two being from the same clinical profession.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Statement

We aspire to create a community built on collaboration, innovation, creativity, equity, and inclusion. We work to recognize and mitigate our own biases. Our collective success depends on a robust exchange of ideas - an exchange that is best when we see rich diversity in our backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. To achieve this, we are committed to diversity in the staff and faculty we hire, equity in the policies we create, and justice in the decisions we make.

Candidates with backgrounds underrepresented in science are especially encouraged to apply.

Contact for Application and Logistics

Elizabeth Strawbridge, MPH, ADAPT Education Coordinator
(984) 484-0887

Program Contacts

Karen Goldstein, MD, MPH, Senior Physician Scholar
Eleanor McConnell, PhD, RN, Senior Nurse Scholar
Elizabeth Strawbridge, MPH, ADAPT Education Coordinator

Current Durham ADAPT VA Quality Scholars


Years of Funding

Christina Cui, MD

2023 - 2025

Jessica Coleman, PhD

2023 - 2025

Samantha Meckes, PhD

2023 - 2025

Diego Schaps, MD


Katlin Harker, DPT