Dr. Ron Bale, Ph.D. oversees our longitudinal behavioral health training. Dr. Bale has 30+ years of experience teaching family physicians and practicing psychology in a medical setting. Each resident works with Dr. Bale several times each year in a variety of settings.
Because behavioral health is central to the practice of Family Medicine, we integrate behavioral health training into our continuity clinic. In the Academic Family Medicine Center, psychologists and psychiatrists see patients with residents on a weekly basis. Residents may see patients from the psychologist or psychiatrist's regular schedule, or may schedule their own patients to be seen. Dr. Bale also shadows residents as they see their own patients, providing feedback to enhance the doctor-patient relationship and advice on managing difficult patient interactions. Finally, residents rotate with Dr. Bale in his HIV/AIDS clinic, seeing patients with HIV infection and co-morbid mental health problems. Residents are well-exposed to the diagnosis and management of depression, anxiety, personality disorders, substance abuse, and even more complicated diagnoses such as schizophrenia.
Behavioral health is well-represented in our didactic curriculum as well, with topics ranging from diagnosing anxiety disorder and pharmacologic management of depression to dementia and distinguishing delirium from psychosis. Balint groups were incorporated into the resident Core Conference in 2016, allowing residents (grouped by class) an opportunity to process their patient interactions.
There is an optional selective month in psychiatry, in which the residents work with the consulting psychiatrist in the hospital and the inpatient psychiatric unit, learning the hands-on management of psychiatric illiness in the inpatient setting.
Finally, each of the core family medicine faculty contribute to the behavioral health education by promoting patient care from the bio-psycho-social perspective. We relate to our patients as a whole person and place a great deal of emphasis on humanistic medicine, which becomes even more important in our medically-underserved population.