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Rationale and Development

The Academic Administrator, Clinician Educator (AACE) track started formally on July 1, 2008 and is now in its sixth year.

The Academic Administrator, Clinician Educator (AACE) Track was developed 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.

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 the AACE Track Director, Dr. Lalith Kumar Solai, the Chief Resident for Education, and invited faculty. These meetings concentrate on successful use of ones mentor, development of educational skills, enrichment of clinical knowledgebase, enhancement of leadership roles, instruction on business and financial issues, integration into community activities, balancing life and work, and support of academic projects.

As part of the application process, the ATR candidate must propose an academic project (e.g. Quality Assurance activity, data-mining investigation, publication of clinical findings, educational initiative/course/seminar, etc.). Residents may create their own individualized project or choose from a variety of suggested AACE Track projects. For instance, residents with special interest in administration may consider participating in the Quality and Performance Improvement in Psychiatric Academic Health Systems Elective. During this elective, they would develop a project while also gaining a better understanding of the role of performance measurement, quality improvement and evidence-based practices within the context of an academic medical center. 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.  Click here to learn more about some of the projects and interests pursued by graduates of the AACES program.

Current AACE Track Residents – Interests and Projects

 Amanda Brinson, MDAmanda Brinson, MD
Dr. Brinson is a PGY-4 resident in the General Adult Track, as well as the current residency Chief of Inpatient Services. She has significant interests in quality improvement and administrative psychiatry. Her AACE project consists of assessing the impact of morbidity and mortality conferences on WPIC psychiatric residency program.
 Kimberly Clinebell, MDKimberly Clinebell, MD
Dr. Clinebell is a PGY-4 resident in the Child Psychiatry Track, with significant interests in chronic severe mental illness, psychosomatic medicine, childhood trauma, and mentorship. Her AACE project is developing and implementing a senior resident to junior resident mentorship program for psychiatry residents.
 Kelly Davidson, MDKelly Davidson, MD
Dr. Davidson is a PGY-5 resident in the Child Psychiatry Track. She has a significant interest in medical education and complicated grief in children and adolescents. Her AACE project is to assess knowledge, skills and attitudes in the area of complicated grief of the residents at Western Psychiatric, and from the needs assessment, working with a colleague Dr. Kelley Victor, will create a workshop on this topic to be given to the resident body as a whole in November 2014.
 Jocelyn Hart, MDJocelyn Hart, MD
Dr. Hart is a PGY-5 resident in the Child Psychiatry Track. She has significant interests in medical education, administrative psychiatry, and quality improvement. Her AACE project is examining trends in medication errors for geriatric patients transferred between inpatient psychiatry and inpatient medicine, which may inform subsequent quality improvement efforts to minimize these errors.
 Sarah Homitsky, MDSarah Homitsky, MD
Dr. Homitsky is a PGY-4 resident in the Triple Board Program, whose significant interests include quality improvement, improving access to psychiatric care for children and adolescents, as well as education on important topics in psychiatry for her pediatric colleagues. She has developed a project with Dr. Winkeller that is designed to create a group that provides support and education for first-time adolescent mothers and their children.
Heather Joseph, DOHeather Joseph, DO
Dr. Joseph is a PGY-5 Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellow, and she is the Chief of the Psychiatry Research Pathway. Her significant interests include ADHD and Disruptive Behavior Disorders, psychosomatic medicine, medical education, and patient advocacy. Her AACE project consists of an educational afterschool program for 5th- & 6th-grade children that teaches them about topics in mental health and stigma related to mental illness.
 Alyson Kepple, MD
Dr. Kepple is a PGY-4 resident in the General Adult Track, with significant interests in psychotherapy, medical education, and palliative care. For her AACE project, she will be offering an elective course in motivational interviewing (MI) for medical students to test the hypothesis that early training and practice in MI reduces burnout in medical school.
Wynne Lundblad, MD
Dr. Lundblad is a PGY-4 resident in the General Adult Track, as well as the current Vice Chair of the AACE Track. She has significant interests in medical education, trauma, women’s mental health, and psychosomatic medicine. Her AACE project is the development and assessment of a trauma psychoeducation group in an outpatient dual diagnosis clinic.
Cristin McDermott, MD
Dr. McDermott is a PGY-4 resident in the Triple Board program, and she has significant interests in education and in working with underserved populations, both in pediatrics and psychiatry. Her AACE project includes a formal needs assessment and focus groups of LGBTQ youth in a downtown Pittsburgh community center, assessing the needs and barriers to having an embedded mental healthcare provider in that setting.
Barb Nightingale, MDBarb Nightingale, MD
Dr. Nightingale is a PGY-5 resident in the Family Medicine/Psychiatry Combined Track, with a significant interest in increased training of and collaboration with primary care colleagues. Her AACE project is focused on providing training in brief motivational interviewing (MI) strategies to Family Medicine residents, specifically around management of diabetes, and further assessing their learning of the principals of MI.
Caroline Nguyen, MDCaroline Nguyen, MD
Dr. Nguyen is a PGY-4 resident in the Child Psychiatry Track, with significant interests in medical education, quality improvement, as well as adolescent/college-age patient populations. Her AACE project is focused on the development of a psychosocial intervention to help adolescent patients with ADHD learn organizational and studying skills to maximize their chance of succeeding academically in college.
Anne Penner, MDAnne Penner, MD
Dr. Penner is a PGY-5 resident in the Child Psychiatry Track, and the current Chief Resident of Education and Chair of the AACE Track. She has significant interests in neurodevelopmental disorders and medical education. Her AACE project is a quality improvement project focused on assessing barriers to adherence to treatment in an early psychosis clinical program through, focusing on side effects to atypical antipsychotic medications.
John Saunders, MD, MS John Saunders, MD, MS
Dr. Saunders is a PGY-4 resident in the General Adult Psychiatry Track, with interests in medical education and community psychiatry. His AACE project includes developing a series of brief web-based instructional videos on topics in psychosomatic medicine for non-psychiatric house staff physicians and measuring the impact of this educational intervention on trainees’ knowledge of and comfort with psychiatric topics.
Justin Schrieber, DO, MPHJustin Schrieber, DO, MPH
Dr. Schrieber is a PGY-4 resident in the Triple Board Program, and his significant interests include medical education and organized medicine, both in pediatrics and psychiatry. For his AACE project he is developing an electronically based curriculum for pediatrics residents and leading discussion groups on motivational interviewing.
Neeta Shenai, MD
Dr. Shenai is a PGY-4 resident in the General Adult Track, as well as the current House staff Treasurer. She has significant interests in women's mental health, trauma, and medical student education. Her AACE project is developing a group for women afflicted with trauma and substance use disorders at Magee-Women's Hospital. With Dr. Lundblad, she plans to present a workshop to OB/GYN residents on perinatal addictions.
Erin Smith, MD
Dr. Smith is a PGY-4 resident in the General Adult Track. She graduated with honors from University College Dublin, Ireland in 2012. Her main area of interest is perinatal psychiatry, particularly mood disorders and substance use disorders in this population. Additional interests include psychotherapy, particularly motivational interviewing, as well as medical student and resident education. Her AACE project is to create a motivational interviewing-based educational initiative for women around post-partum depression, and she will be monitoring follow-up, treatment, and stigma post-intervention.
 Joseph Tasosa, MD, MBAJoseph Tasosa, MD, MBA
Dr. Tasosa is a PGY-5 resident in the Addiction Fellowship Program and an APA/SAMHSA Fellow. His significant interests include medical education, health disparities research, advocacy and policy, and topics in global mental health. His AACE project includes the development of an educational intervention for teachers in the Pittsburgh public school system on screening and recognition of ADHD in their students.
Robin Valpey, DO
Dr. Valpey is a PGY-4 resident in the General Adult Track, currently serving as the residency Housestaff President. Her clinical interests include women's mental health, psychosomatics and health care disparities, particularly in the rural setting. Her AACE project combines these interests by working with Hillman Cancer Center satellite clinics to assess the psychiatric needs at these sites, in hopes of improving psycho-oncologic care outside of the Pittsburgh area.
Victoria Winkeller, MDVictoria Winkeller, MD
Dr. Winkeller is a PGY-5 resident in the Triple Board Program, with significant interests in quality improvement as well as medical education. She has developed a project with Dr. Homitsky that is designed to create a group model that provides support and education for first-time adolescent mothers and their children, embedded in the Adolescent Medicine Clinic.

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. Furthermore, they will participate in a Seniorship during which they will provide mentorship and direct supervision to PGY-II and/or PGY-III residents during their PGY-IV and above years.  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.

Another key aspect of the AACE Track is the encouragement of resident involvement in administration and leadership activity. ATRs will  be encouraged to participate in the CCBH Managed Care Elective to gain a better understanding of the role of Managed Care Organizations in the delivery of behavioral health care. If interested, ATRs can also take advantage of reduced tuition for courses through the University of Pittsburgh Business School. Furthermore, the AACE Track is flexible enough to accommodate alternative training options with proper planning.

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. 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 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:

Anne Penner, MD
Chief Resident for Education
Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic
3811 O'Hara St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213





Wynne Lundblad, MD
Vice Chair of AACE Track
Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic
University of Pittsburgh
3811 O'Hara Street
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