Family medicine residents at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine will receive additional training on caring for the mental and behavioral health needs of children, adolescents and young adults after the university received a nearly $2.3 million federal award.
The grant is a five-year award from the Health Resources and Services Administration. With it, the Boonshoft School of Medicine will establish new training experiences for family medicine residents with community partners, like with psychiatrists at Dayton Children’s. Faculty in the departments of family medicine, pediatrics, and psychiatry will collaborate in the training program.
The training will focus on mental and behavioral health problems, including substance use disorders, suicide prevention, trauma-informed care, and the effects of abuse and gun violence on young people.
“On a national level, there’s really an inadequate number of clinicians to address the mental and behavioral health needs of children, adolescents, and young adults,” said Dr. Paul Hershberger, associate dean for research affairs and professor and director of behavioral health in the Department of Family Medicine.
About a third of the patients that family doctors manage have psychiatric needs, said Dr. Peter Reynolds, associate professor and director of the Family Medicine Residency Program. The common conditions include depression and anxiety. Reynolds said a number of patients also typically have past trauma impacting their well-being and health, both physically and mentally.
“Mental health is affecting our society in many negative ways,” Reynolds said. He said, with this grant, they are hoping to improve the breadth and scope of the mental health training the family medicine residents receive, as well as the quality of the training. This will translate to additional learning and training sessions, as well as sessions that are more impactful and interactive. The grant also requires them to measure the outcomes of this training.
“Our graduates will go on to practice 20-30 years and take care of thousands of patients,” Reynolds said, saying the approaches doctors learn in their residency programs tend to stick with them. “We’re hoping to give them more skills, greater breadth of skills, and higher quality of skills to meet that need to treat mental illness in family medicine.”
Reynolds also said about two-thirds of people in the U.S. who are getting treated for depression get that treatment through their primary care doctor, which is often family medicine or pediatricians. There is a shortage of psychiatrists, but sometimes patients are more comfortable talking to their primary care doctor. Hershberger said primary care doctors are also sometimes the first to notice substance use disorders in their patients.
Hershberger said their family medicine residents typically do four week-long rotations. This grant will involve modifying at least two of those rotations to include increased attention to the mental and behavioral health needs of children and young adults.
In addition to the current inpatient and outpatient medicine rotations that family medicine residents complete at Dayton Children’s Hospital, they will work with psychiatrists at Dayton Children’s. Residents will also gain experience in the Student Health Center at Central State University.
Residents will also continue to receive training with OneFifteen, an addiction treatment center in Dayton, and Dayton Public Schools. Family Health Services, a federally qualified health center in Greenville, will be added as a new training site.
The medical school will also develop or enhance its mental and behavioral health content in instructive and clinical training for family medicine residents, including suicide prevention, trauma-informed care, and the effects of abuse and gun violence.
“The experience of adversity in childhood is known to predispose individuals to poorer health across the lifespan, including poorer mental health. While prevention is most desirable, to the extent that mental health problems can be appropriately diagnosed and treated early in life, risks for substance use disorders, suicide, and the perpetuation of patterns of abuse can be reduced,” Hershberger said.
New training sessions will begin within the next few months with new features in the residents’ clinical rotations starting in July.
Each year, 10 residents are accepted into the Boonshoft School of Medicine Family Medicine Residency Program, spending three years in the program.
“Each family medicine resident who receives training supported by the project will be better prepared to serve the mental and behavioral needs of patients,” Hershberger said. “Current patients of residents will benefit, but so will the thousands of patients for whom they provide care over their careers as physicians.”