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Newsletter | Winter 2020 | South Central MIRECC

Meet Our New Associate Director for Improving Clinical Care: Q&A with Dr. Jeffrey Cully

Dr. Jeffrey Cully
Dr. Jeffrey Cully

Q. Please tell us a bit about your educational, research, and career background.

I am a clinical psychologist and mental health services researcher interested in improving the delivery of evidence-based mental health treatments. I completed a PhD in clinical psychology from Saint Louis University, clinical internship/residency at Baylor College of Medicine, and fellowship in geropsychology at the Houston VA Medical Center.

I have been a staff psychologist and faculty member at the Houston VA Medical Center since 2003. Currently, I am a Professor at Baylor College of Medicine and conduct research - primarily with funding from VA's Health Services Research and Development. The research team that I lead is focused on improving the delivery of psychotherapy in non-mental health specialty settings such as primary care and VA community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs).

Although we have conducted patient-randomized trials, much of our current work uses hybrid effectiveness-implementation designs to test and build mental health programs that can be used in VA clinical practice. As our projects have matured, we have placed increasing emphasis on identifying and testing implementation strategies to support providers and systems as they seek to increase access to high quality mental health services.

In addition to my clinical and research interests, I am also passionate about education and education leadership. From 2011 to 2019, I served as the Advanced Fellowship Clinical Director for VA's Office of Academic Affiliations. In that role I provided oversight to VA's national Advanced Fellowship program (which includes MIRECC and Health Services Research fellowships) and interacted with VA national program offices on a regular basis.

Across all of the areas of my professional life, partnerships have proven to be critical for advancing and improving care for Veterans and I look forward to continuing to build and expand partnerships in my new role with SC MIRECC.

Q. What interested you in the Associate Director for Improving Clinical Care position?

Because our research work has increasingly targeted improvements in clinical care, the Associate Director for Improving Clinical care position was a natural fit. Prior leaders have shown the potential for direct impact of the work we do in SC MIRECC and I am looking forward to continuing ongoing projects such as TheraMetrics (started by Dr. Tracey Smith) while adding new initiatives to improve mental health services within VISN 16.

I am particularly interested in finding new ways to identify clinical demonstration projects and hope to increase the alignment of our initiatives with frontline providers and facility mental health leaders. The SC MIRECC's Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) is another success and I hope to further the impact of this group through broader engagement in SC MIRECC and VISN mental health activities. Having participated in many CAB activities over the years - I would like to say thank you to our CAB members for their years of contributions!

I have a long track record of working with and participating in SC MIRECC activities and the opportunity to serve and contribute to the overall mission of SC MIRECC in a leadership role has been something I have wanted to do for quite some time. In many ways, SC MIRECC has been my professional "home" through opportunities for me to grow and develop such as mentoring, research pilots, and clinical educator awards.

I hope to continue the examples set by current and previous SC MIRECC leaders by ensuring that others experience SC MIRECC as an institution striving for excellence through activities that communicate acceptance, encourage innovation, and inspire and challenge through compassionate mentorship.

Q. What are your goals for the Clinical Care Core during the next 2-3 years?

I am interested in exploring new ways to identify clinical demonstration projects and will be spending the first few months in my position talking to a variety of VA clinical stakeholders. Over the next 2-3 years, I hope that our MIRECC will be viewed as the strongest and most diverse MIRECC with regard to clinical demonstration projects and mental health improvement initiatives. Strongest meaning the MIRECC with the greatest impact on Veteran's mental health and most diverse in terms of inclusion of stakeholders and partners.

To accomplish this goal, I would like to capture and share clinical best practices as lead by clinical champions across our network. Identifying and replicating VISN 16 best practices, along with recognition for those who champion these efforts, seems like a win-win for VA and Veterans. In 2-3 years, it is my intention that our MIRECC will be viewed as a model program for other MIRECCs as well as more broadly for VA mental health improvement initiatives.

Q. Is there anything you want our readers to know that I haven’t asked?

Although I enjoy my "regular job" I also enjoy life beyond VA. Family and friends are a big part of my life and you can often find me outdoors (kayaking, fishing, hiking, jogging), exploring new restaurants, or listening to live music.

Last updated: October 29, 2020