Mental health (also referred to as behavioral health) care isn’t something separate or ‘’other,’’ but rather should be thought of as one more aspect of holistic patient care. That’s the premise behind many movements nationally to integrate such care into everyday primary care practices.
A new $400,000 federal grant awarded to Northeast Ohio Medical University from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is designed to train the next generation of diverse primary care providers to learn and serve in rural and medically underserved communities.
The grant’s primary author, Stacey Gardner-Buckshaw, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, says that over the next five years, the HRSA PCTE Integrating Behavioral Health in Primary Care (IBHPC) grant will enable NEOMED’s Dept. of Family and Community Medicine to:
- Expand interdisciplinary student training opportunities at the SOAR Student-Run Free Clinic at NEOMED. College of Medicine students will train with physician assistant students from the University of Mount Union, in addition to the College of Pharmacy students who are already engaged.
- Expand SOAR clinic operations to include additional weekends and, later, additional evenings during the week and specialty days.
- Add behavioral telehealth services at the free clinic for patients suffering from chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and addiction, in collaboration with Coleman Professional Services.
- Implement additional pathway training programs for NEOMED College of Medicine students and enhance curriculum for all medicine students related to social justice for patients and underserved care.
- Integrate provider wellness curricula for medicine and physician assistant students, particularly those who plan to serve patients and families living in socially and economically disadvantaged communities.
More than half of NEOMED’s graduates choose to work in medically underserved areas after residency, notes Dr. Gardner-Buckshaw. She adds, “The opportunity for students to train in professional care teams, to incorporate best practices for self-care, to build supportive relationships with patients, and to develop advocacy skills will expand their professional skills and help them become even more successful care providers.”