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Current AACE Track Residents - Interests and Projects

Click here to see a list of accomplishments, publications and presentations by AACE Track residents.

Click here to learn more about the graduates of AACE Track

Rationale and Development

The Academic Administrator, Clinician Educator (AACE) was developed in 2008 as part of an institution-wide movement towards promoting future academic leaders in clinical care, continuing education, and administration. Through this specialized residency track, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC) and the Department of Psychiatry encourage interested residents to teach more effectively, administrate as leaders, think scientifically and innovatively, and strive for clinical excellence in a rigorous manner. The AACE Track is available to residents in both the four-year general and the five-year combined general and child psychiatry residency programs. In a modified form, the track is also available to Triple Board and combined Family Medicine and Psychiatry Residents. This coordinated program provides AACE Track residents (ATRs) with enhanced theoretical knowledge and practical training necessary to act as leaders of our field in the face of rapid scientific advances of the 21st century.

Starting in 2015, residents may apply to the AACE Track at the beginning of their PGY-II year with a letter of interest and curriculum vitae. This allows them to spend the PGY-II participating in a series of workshops with the AACE Track leadership and invited faculty aimed at teaching core academic skills to plan, propose, and implement an AACE project. BY the end of the PGY-II year, it is expected that these residents will submit a proposal for an academic project to be undertaken starting in the PGY-III year. Alternately, residents may develop a project independently, and submit this with a letter of intent and curriculum vitae at the beginning of the PGY-III year. AACE Track projects include Quality Assurance and Quality Improvement, educational interventions, and clinical initiatives.

Below is an overview of AACE Track activities by year:

WPIC offers the AACE Track considerable resources for clinical training, education, and administration and is richly endowed with faculty supporting these pursuits in their own careers. An extensive clinical therapeutics program, which includes both pharmacological and psychosocial treatments for a variety of psychiatric disorders, provides robust clinical opportunities. Through these resources and various electives, ATRs gain added expertise in the etiology of mental disorders, service delivery systems, community resources, treatment modalities, educational methodologies, and administrative activities. WPIC also leverages resources from The University of Pittsburgh Center for Instructional Development to enhance resident skills as teachers and mentors in preparation for a life-long continuing education. Ultimately, ATRs participate in an additional broad-based structured training approach, in which clinical care, administration, and education are offered in an integrated context.The AACE Track is designed for residents who intend to pursue clinician educator, and/or academic administrative careers after graduation from the residency program. Residents may express interest in the AACE Track at any point during their training, but do not formally apply until the end of their second year. Training will include working with a senior faculty/mentor on a formal project, as well as, educational activities, didactic lectures, and journal discussions. All ATRs meet twice-monthly with AACE Track faculty mentors Drs. Pierre Azzam and Priya Gopalan, senior faculty, the Chief Resident for Education, and invited faculty. These meetings concentrate on thedevelopment of educational skills, enrichment of clinical knowledge base, enhancement of leadership roles, instruction on business and financial issues, integration into community activities, balancing life and work, and support of academic projects.

Over the course of their PGY-III and IV years, the ATR will actively participate in meetings with their peers and mentors as well as relevant Medical Directors, Program Leaders, and Service Chiefs, along with the associated Vice Presidents attached to the project. Upon completion of the project, the ATR will disseminate the findings of their experience to the academic community through publications in peer review journal articles, poster presentations for regional or national conferences, resident workshops, and other appropriate venues.

In addition to the individual project, ATRs can be engaged in a variety of clinical activities designed to hone their skills in patient management, advanced psychopharmacology, and psychotherapy. They will also be introduced to educational roles early in their careers to develop communication and mentorship skills. Specifically, ATRs may act as preceptors for the first and second year medical students in Problem-Based Learning (PBL) groups and Observed Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs). They will also be expected to participate in case conferences and give at least one formal presentation to the resident body. ATRs are encouraged to participate in formal medical student didactic lectures and small group discussions. They also have opportunities to educate medical colleagues and community members.

At the end of the residency training, some AACE Track residents will go on to post-graduate training either in our department or elsewhere. We have fellowships in child and adolescent, public service, forensic, addiction,and geriatric psychiatry, as well as psychosomatic medicine. Within our department, one can follow a career progression arc from the AACE Track while a resident to an AACE Track faculty position. Regardless of their future endeavors, graduates of the AACE Track are well-equipped to embark on rewarding and challenging careers in clinical education, residency and medical student training, hospital administration, and as forward thinking leaders in academic psychiatry.

Continued Development of the Residency AACE Track
  1. The AACE Track continues to develop as a unique additional prospective training program for residents offered by WPIC including: A system for matching the residents with productive clinical-educators and/or administrative mentors with the assistance of faculty leaders ("meta-mentoring"),
  2. A formal application process with rigorous review of residents' background and academic project proposals by the Chief Resident for Education, the Vice Chair of the AACE Track, AACE Track faculty and residency training director,
  3. "High-yield" time-limited projects such Quality Improvement projects, Educational Seminars, and publications in clinical journals during the residency,
  4. Rich, supportive learning environment provided by twice monthly AACE Track resident meetings, journal clubs, case conferences, educational seminars, and practical workshops.
  5. Presentations of senior residents' projects, which are critiqued by peers under the direction of a senior faculty member
  6. Dissemination of the University of Pittsburgh AACE Track experience through presentations at annual meetings of the American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, and the American Association of Directors of Psychiatry Residency Training.
  7. Promotion of ATRs for formal recognition, financial awards and fellowship opportunities.

Further information may be obtained by contacting:

Nicole Bates, MD
Chair of the AACE Track
Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic
University of Pittsburgh
3811 O'Hara Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Meredith Spada MD
Vice Chair of the AACE Track
Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic
3811 O'Hara St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Suggested Reading:

Sansea L. Jacobson, Michael J. Travis, LalithKumar Solai, Edward MacPhee, Charles F. Reynolds, III, Neal D. Ryan, Loren H. Roth, and David J. Kupfer, (2010) Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders in Clinician-Education and Academic Administration. Academic Psychiatry 34: 224-228

Anne E. Penner, Wynne Lundblad, Pierre N. Azzam, Priya Gopalan, Sansea L. Jacobson, Michael J. Travis. (2016) Assessing Career Outcomes of a Resident Academic Administrator, Clinician Educator Track: A Seven-Year Follow-up. Academic Psychiatry. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 27142839.