Dell Medical School is committed to revolutionizing how people get and stay healthy, with a particular focus on serving the most vulnerable and underserved populations. We know that mental health is critical to sustaining physical health, and so the Department of Psychiatry is leading the medical school’s efforts to integrate mental health services within all of our clinical operations. Instead of receiving mental health care in a separate clinic, our patients will get it while they are in the clinic to see their gynecologist or their orthopaedic surgeon, for example.
We are also committed to revolutionizing how health care professionals are trained. That’s why our very first class of medical students took an innovative course in interprofessional collaboration that brought together students from medicine, social work, nursing and pharmacy to learn how professionals with different training and skills can work together to improve the lives of the patients they collectively serve.
But how do we train these professionals to work in innovative clinics that have, for example, orthopaedic surgeons working side by side with psychiatrists and other mental health professionals?
Dell Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry recently received a grant from the Hogg Foundation to do just that. The $440,000 award is to develop a team-based learning curriculum that engages students from medicine, psychology, social work and nursing in the best practices of integrated mental health care, and to embed into that training an increased focus on cultural variables that contribute to health disparities.
With the grant, the Department of Psychiatry plans to lead an effort that engages thought leaders from across the UT Austin campus to collaboratively develop and implement a unique clinical training curriculum in an integrated health care setting to prepare future clinicians to address the social, economic and environmental factors that impact health outcomes. The new curriculum also will focus on an increased awareness of and sensitivity toward cultural variables that contribute to major health disparities. Guided by a health disparities expert, students will conduct team-based projects to critically identify and address potential barriers to patient engagement, equitable care and successful recovery.
Through this unique cross-campus collaboration, the Department of Psychiatry hopes to assure that doctors in the future are already familiar with integrated mental health care when they go into practice. They will know that good care of diabetes and heart disease means caring for the patient’s depression, too, as well as assuring that the patient has stable housing, access to healthy food and family support.