Post-Doctoral Program in Clinical Health Psychology in Primary Care

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Organization Type: 
Educational Institution
Program Type: 
Standing Program
Education Level: 
Postgraduate (e.g., residency, fellowship)
Educational Elements: 
Self Reflection Activities
Experiential not including services to patients
Experiential including clinical contact with patients
Other Element(s): 
Collaborative visits with family practice residents and attendings; team precepting of residents with family medicine attendings; balint groups
Program Description: 

The University of Massachusetts post-doctoral program in Clinical Health Psychology in Primary Care is a two year program designed to train clinical and counseling psychologists on the following three goals: 1) to deliver culturally competent and evidence-based behavioral health assessments and treatment in primary care settings to underserved, vulnerable, traumatized and chronically ill populations across the lifespan; 2)  use collaborative practice to educate and train family medicine, nurse practitioner residents, and practicing primary care providers to identify and address behavioral health needs of diverse, underserved and vulnerable populations in culturally competent ways; and 3) prepare to be leaders in the development and implementation of programs for patient centered medical homes (PCMH).

The program’s training philosophy and model is based on a supervised experiential approach in which first year post-doctoral fellows are trained in evidence-based clinical health psychology through intensive didactics, clinical observations, clinical supervision, and by training side-by-side with family medicine residents. In the second year, fellows continue their clinical training and supervision, but also begin a more focused experience of learning how to teach and train family medicine residents to recognize behavioral needs and use psychosocial knowledge and behavioral health skills. Fellows also learn to build integrated service programs in a primary care setting and are evaluated in a number of ways, including live observation.  Participants are expected to gain competencies in: 1) clinical health psychology assessment techniques; 2) clinical health psychology and family therapy intervention strategies; 3) conducting effective consultations with physicians; 4) professionalism, communication, effective documentation, and acculturation to the medical environment; 5) healthcare management and administration, including leadership skills; and 6) research skills, particularly in the area of conducting clinical quality improvement initiatives.  By having behavioral health providers as peers in their training, residents can better develop the personal relationships on which collaboration is based. In addition, having family medicine residents as peers in their training helps fellows to develop familiarity with the primary care setting in an environment of support where help with the vagaries of “medical culture” is easily available.

Targeted Professions
Clinical Health
Self-Reported Competencies
PCPCC’s Education and Training Task Force identified 16 interprofessional training competencies critical for preparing health professionals for practicing in team-based, coordinated care models such as patient-centered medical homes. Listed below are the self-reported competencies that this program has achieved, which have been organized by the five core features of a medical home as defined by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Patient-Centered Care Competencies: 
Advocacy for patient-centered integrated care
Cultural sensitivity and competence in culturally appropriate practice
Development of effective, caring relationships with patients
Patient-centered care planning, including collaborative decision-making and patient self-management
Comprehensive Care Competencies: 
Assessment of biopsychosocial needs across the lifespan
Population-based approaches to health care delivery
Risk identification
Coordinated Care Competencies: 
Care coordination for comprehensive care of patient & family in the community
Health information technology, including e-communications with patients & other providers
Interprofessionalism & interdisciplinary team collaboration
Team leadership
Quality Care & Safety Competencies: 
Assessment of patient outcomes
Business models for patient-centered integrated care
Evidence-based practice
Quality improvement methods, including assessment of patient-experience for use in practice-based improvement efforts
Accessible Care Competencies: 
Promotion of appropriate access to care (e.g., group appointments, open scheduling)
Last updated November 15, 2013

* Please note: Information contained in this database is self-reported by representatives from each program. It does not represent an exhaustive list of education and training programs and inclusion does not constitute an endorsement from the PCPCC.


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