Pacific University Physician Assistant Postgraduate Behavioral Health Fellowship

The Pacific University Physician Assistant Postgraduate Behavioral Health Fellowship provides an intense, well-rounded, 12 months of clinical and didactic training to facilitate a successful career as a behavioral health physician assistant (PA).

The fellow will engage in advanced practice training in behavioral health in accordance with the fellowship’s mission to provide PAs with expertise in the clinical care of patients with psychiatric and substance use disorders. Upon completion of this program, the PA fellow will have the knowledge and skills necessary to make them a successful practitioner of behavioral health in a variety of clinical settings, and will have completed the prerequisites to apply for the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) Psychiatry Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ).

Curriculum Experiences & Objectives

Interprofessional faculty and medical community partners have collaborated to create an evidence-based curriculum for PAs who successfully complete an accredited physician assistant program. The behavioral health PA fellow will rotate through three to four training areas, depending on the fellow’s goals for their fellowship year and future clinical practice. At the conclusion of each rotation, the PA fellow should be able to:


Learning Objectives

Psychiatric emergency services and inpatient psychiatry (child/adolescent, adult inpatient, psychiatry consultation-liaison)
  • Evaluate, diagnose, and manage acute psychiatric disorders in the emergency setting
  • Manage aggression, agitation, intoxication, mania, suicidal ideation/behavior in the emergency setting
  • Learn and use community resources including alternatives to inpatient hospitalization
  • Use verbal de-escalation strategies and demonstrate awareness of safety for patients and staff in the emergency setting
  • Demonstrate understanding of psychiatric treatment systems
Outpatient behavioral health (adolescent and adult community outpatient clinic)
  • Evaluate, diagnose, provide helpful psychoeducation, and manage psychiatric and substance use disorders in the outpatient setting
  • Understand the connection between medical and psychiatric conditions
  • Manage behavioral health issues in multiple medical settings with appropriate supervision
  • Provide motivational interviewing with proficiency to patients with substance use disorders
  • Learn and use community resources appropriately
  • Demonstrate understanding of regulatory issues in behavioral health care
Substance use treatment center (inpatient and outpatient addiction consults)
  • Evaluate, diagnose, and manage acute substance use disorders in adolescent and adult populations
  • Provide motivational interviewing with proficiency to patients with substance use disorders
  • Learn and use community resources appropriately
  • Identify commonly misused medications and substances
  • Formulate reasonable differential diagnoses based on: patient history; signs and symptoms of drug use, intoxication, and withdrawal; DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for Substance Use Disorders; and medical, surgical, psychiatric, and obstetrical complications of substance use

In addition to clinical rotations, the PA fellow will engage in the didactic curriculum including supervision, lectures on psychiatric medications, journal club, preparing and providing select lectures on behavioral health topics to Pacific University’s School of PA Studies students, and grand rounds.

Given that 2021 is the inaugural year of Pacific University’s PA Postgraduate Fellowship in Behavioral Health and given recent changes in healthcare in response to the global pandemic, we have designed the fellowship to have some customization based on the fellow’s areas of clinical interest.

Admission Requirements

Important Dates

  • A completed application for the 2023-2024 fellowship year is due by April 1, 2023.
  • The postgraduate fellowship starts on September 1 each year.
  • A DEA license must be obtained within the first 90 days of the start of the program

Requirements & Eligibility

Additional Information

  • One fellow will be accepted for each fellowship year
  • Stipend of $67,000 for one-year fellowship
  • Other benefits include PTO, CME, interprofessional practice equity and inclusion training, medical and dental insurance, and licensing and other professional fees
  • To begin the application process, please apply here or visit our web page at https://pacificu.edu/PAFellowship

Why Specialize in Behavioral Health as a PA?

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) estimated in 2018 that, out of approximately 140,000 certified PAs, only 1.5% — approximately 1,470 PAs — practice in psychiatry. At the same time, Current Psychiatry says the current number of psychiatrists is declining and is expected to reach an all-time low by the year 2024.

Contact Us

For general questions, please email InterprofessionalClinic@PacificU.edu

Pacific Interprofessional Clinical Team
Charles Bentz, MD, FACP
Behavioral Health Fellowship Medical Director
Pacific Interprofessional Clinic

Rebekah Ratzlaff, PsyD, LP
Behavioral Health Fellowship Director
Pacific Interprofessional Clinic

Mary Von, DHEd, PA-C
Program Director / Professor
Pacific University School of Physician Assistant Studies