Curriculum

Fellows receive focused training in clinical health psychology as it is practiced in primary care. They provide behavioral health treatment in the health centers and in other Family Medicine practices in the U.Mass/Memorial system. They provide behavioral science precepting (one on one observation and teaching) for residents in Family Medicine and join them in collaborative patient care. They teach selected behavioral science subjects in the health centers. Finally, they participate in a capstone project that might be an independent or collaborative research study, program evaluation, curriculum development, or a clinical innovation. 

Fellows receive one hour per week of clinical supervision from the Director of the program and one from the site supervisor in their health center in both years of their program. In addition, they average one to two additional hours of supervision per week in live supervision and case discussions. During all their work, there is a medical faculty preceptor available on site for back up with decisions, adding a second layer of guidance and support.                                                                           

Year One

The first year is spent refining skills that are necessary for the practice of clinical health psychology in primary care, becoming familiar with the routines, language, and issues of assessment and intervention in primary care. They learn how to develop a role as a caregiver in primary care medical practice. The weekly training time is roughly broken down into 10 half-days, with supervision and other learning opportunities such as grand rounds, chart rounds, pain rounds, and other relevant training and learning opportunities occurring over the lunch hour. A sample schedule for a first year fellow is below followed by additional descriptors of the various experiences. As some activates occur monthly or only for a portion of the half-day, more than one experience is represented in this schedule per half-day.

 



Morning

Afternoon

Monday

Clinic, Dual Interviews, Team Precepting

Clinic, Dual Interviews, Chart Rounds

Tuesday

FMIS, Dual Interviews

Balint Group, Tuesday workshops

Wednesday

Clinic for School Aged Children, Supervision

Clinic, Dual Interviews, Chart Rounds

Thursday

FMIS, Supervision

Clinic, Dual Interviews, Chart Rounds

Friday

Clinic, Dual Interviews, Certificate Program

Clinic, Admin, Certificate Program, Chart Rounds


Clinical practice and consultation in primary care - Six half-days per week

The fellow spends the majority of his or her time as a member of primary care treatment team in one of the family practice residency clinics. This involves observing resident physicians in their practice, seeing patients jointly with physicians, and carrying a caseload referred by physicians in the practice. In the beginning of the year, the fellow’s time is fairly unstructured. They learn what the residents are doing by observing them as they see their patients. This leads quickly to dual interviews in which residents and fellows work together to treat patients. All family medicine residents have to complete a minimum number of dual interviews with the behavioral science faculty throughout their three year training and the post-doctoral fellow conducts the majority of these with the residents thereby having both the resident and the fellow experience true, collaborative, team-based patient care.

In their clinical work in this setting, fellows are most likely to see patients who are anxious, depressed, coping with illness, child behavior problems, having relationship or family problems, or are abusing substances. They also consult to physicians concerning patients with serious mental illnesses or in acute risk situations. As our clinics implement chronic care disease processed and protocols, the post-doctoral fellow is also likely to be called into cases to assist with lifestyle changes, adherence to a treatment plan, chronic pain management, smoking cessation, sleep disorders and other physical health conditions.

 

Program for School Aged Children – One half-day

This is a family therapy oriented brief assessment and treatment clinic co-directed by Dr. Blount and Dr. Braden. It serves children aged 5-12 and their families. In addition to the post-doctoral fellow, it is also a training clinic for residents in Family Medicine and Pediatrics. Fellows practice clinically in front of the one-way mirror under the supervision or provide teaching for residents during this rotation.

 

Behavioral Medicine Practice – One half-day

On this half-day per week, fellows practice alongside Dr. Blount and Dr. Runyan at Hahnemann Family Health Center in Worcester. This half day is "open clinic" when patients can come without appointments and when all the physicians know that behavioral health providers are available for any reason. When it is busy, everyone is working, or observing each other work. When it is quiet, it is a good time for conversation in detail about cases and issues.

 

Family Medicine Inpatient Service (FMIS) Hospital Rounding – One half-day

Fellows spend one half-day per week rounding in the hospital with teams of residents and Dr. Mullin. The fellow is an integral part of the team, helping to highlight psychosocial issues and offering a psychologist’s perspective on the patients. Click here for more about FMIS.

 

Team Precepting – One half-day

Team Precepting involves a medical preceptor and a behavioral science preceptor working with one resident for one half-day patient session. The precepting team is behind a one-way mirror while the resident sees their usual schedule of patients in front of the screen. The purpose of team precepting is to provide medical and behavioral science precepting together so that residents do not have to dichotomize patients’ problems into “physical” and “psychosocial” domains in order to determine whether a particular problem should be presented to a medical or a behavioral science preceptor. Being with the team allows the fellows to observe primary care services and hear the feedback of faculty about what they are seeing. Fellows can observe or participate in the process as they gain confidence and experience.
                                                                                                    

In Addition.... 


Seminar in Primary Care Behavioral Health

Fellows take and often help teach the Certificate Program in Primary Care Behavioral Health.The program consists of six all day workshops given one Friday a month for six months which are designed to provide the skills and tools needed by mental health professionals who want to work successfully as a behavioral health clinicians in primary care. The course is given twice a year. Initially it provides the core didactic component to the fellowship; however, over time, the fellow also develops expertise in the various areas and is eventually called upon to teach some portion of the certificate program.

The Tuesday Experience

Tuesdays are set aside and protected to provide special educational activities for fellows and residents. Family Medicine and Community Health Grand Rounds are held weekly on Tuesdays at noon at the Memorial Campus on a wide array of Family Medicine topics. Fellows participate alongside the family medicine residents in the Tuesday workshop curriculum, which is focused on a wide array of topics including communication skills, core family medicine outpatient knowledge and skill development, counseling skills, practice management, or current important medical and ethical topics like palliative care, abortion and options counseling, and chronic pain and addiction.

Chart Rounds and Noon Conferences

All of the health centers thrive in an atmosphere of perpetual learning. Conferences are an important part of the daily routine on rotations and in the health centers. Chart rounds, which occur daily, are case-based, learner-centered conferences focusing on the science and art of medicine and fellows are in attendance at these to offer a behavioral science perspective and input to case discussions. Fellows also give occasional lectures on mental health topics of interest to residents at. They usually give one Grand Rounds presentation to the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. The fellows also help deliver structured behavioral and educational programs for identified groups of patients.

Balint Group

First year fellows join the second year family medicine residents in their weekly Balint group. Balint group is a group of clinicians who meet regularly in a leader-facilitated group to present and discuss clinical cases in order to better understand and utilize the clinician-patient relationship in a therapeutic, professional way. Balint Groups provide an opportunity for doctors to reflect on their work as well as an outlet for anxieties and frustrations generated by their work. It can arouse a doctors’ interest in patients whom they have previously found upsetting, annoying or “difficult” and open minds to other possibilities, both of diagnosis and day to day management. This same group remains together the Balint the following year, allowing the fellow two years of Balint group experience with the same family medicine residents. The fellow is not the leader of the group; he/she is a participant and is expected to remain in that role and allow the Balint facilitator(s) to lead the group so that the fellow can take maximum advantage of this training and professional growth opportunity. 


Year Two

The second year is spent refining primary care psychology skills as well as creating opportunities for more advanced study in one or more area of interest. Additionally, second year fellows spend a fair amount of time in formal precepting with residents and in the development of a research project that is expected to be conducted throughout the second year of training. Whereas in the first year, the fellows are functioning more as peers and collaborators with residents, in the second year they take on more faculty-like responsibilities. Again, the training time is accounted for and described based on a 10 half-days per week. A sample schedule which depicts the various activities for a second year fellow is below followed by descriptors of any experiences not described above, or as they may differ for second year fellows. As some activates occur monthly or only for a portion of the half-day, more than one experience is represented in this schedule per half-day. 



Morning

Afternoon

Monday

Clinic, Dual Interviews, Supervision

Clinic, Dual Interviews, Chart Rounds

Tuesday

FMIS, Research

Balint Group, Tuesday workshops

Wednesday

Clinic, Dual Interviews

Clinic, Supervision, Chart Rounds

Thursday

FMIS, Chronic Pain Group

Clinic (new practice), Chart Rounds

Friday

Clinic, Research

Clinic, (new practice), Chart Rounds

Clinical practice and consultation in primary care – Five or six half-days per week

As in the first year, the fellow spends the majority of his or her time as a member of primary care treatment team in a family practice residency clinic. However, there is special emphasis on consultation to help residents care for patients that they would have referred before. There is also an experience of developing population-based clinical care. The fellow identifies a particular group of patients who need a behavioral aspect to their care and researches, develops, proposes and helps implement one “critical pathway” of care to be offered to every patient in the practice with the identified illness. 

Family Medicine Inpatient Service (FMIS) Hospital Rounding – Two half days when on rotation

Second year fellows also spend two half-days per week independently rounding in the hospital with teams of residents. The goal on this rotation in the second year is for fellows to develop teaching skills in the inpatient medical setting.

Teaching and consultation at a different Family Medicine practice – One day

During this day the fellow is flexibly available for patient care and consultation at a practice that is new to him or her. We are offering the experience of joining a practice and meeting the needs there when the practice is not used to having a fellow. It teaches organizational transformation skills in addition to allowing the fellow to use their clinical and consultation skills in a new venue. 

Fellow’s Capstone Project– One half-day
Fellows pursue a capstone project in their second year (although sometimes this begins in year one). The Department of Family Medicine and Community Health has developing and ongoing research in primary care in areas such as pain, homelessness, depression and substance abuse. The fellow is also invited to develop their own project that could be research based or may be developing innovative clinical services, or curriculum development. Examples include developing a chronic pain group, participating in the global health initiatives, research on open access scheduling in primary care.

In Addition...

The second year fellow still attends chart rounds, noon conference, weekly Balint group, and the Tuesday lecture series with the third year family medicine residents. The second year fellow is also called upon to teach in the Primary Care Certificate Program. 

Evaluation:

Fellows participate in a “360 degree” evaluation twice yearly. Feedback relevant to each group’s experience with the fellow is solicited from psychological and medical faculty, nursing and office staff members and residents. The fellows and immediate supervisors complete a rating of the fellows on the competencies identified by the program. A summary document, signed by the Fellow, Director, site supervisor and Residency Director is placed in the record. The Fellow is permitted to add a comment on the document if they choose. Feedback on Fellows' work is ongoing. Because Fellows view their supervisor's clinical work and are observed in their work, the process of exchange for mutual growth is ongoing, making formal evaluations usually enjoyable, and sometimes redundant in feel. A Due Process plan has been adopted for trainees. It is available on request. In areas that are relevant to fellows not covered by the Due Process plan, the Residency Policy Manual of residency of the fellow’s main placement is observed.