Grant continues to enhance psychological care in the region

Professor Valerie Leake
Professor Valerie Leake

In 2016, Radford University received a grant to expand training positions for psychology doctoral students in integrated care facilities in the region. Now in its third year, the grant continues to enhance psychological care at the partnered facilities.

The Rural Integrated Care Expansion Project is a partnership of the Radford University doctoral program in counseling psychology with Tri-Area Community Health and the Community Health Center (CHC) of the New River Valley.

The $863,000 grant was submitted by Professor of Psychology Sarah Hastings and is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with the goal to expand practicum training positions for doctoral students in psychology (Psy.D.) to enable the development of skills to practice in rural underserved integrated primary care settings over a three-year period.

Integrated health care

Both the CHC and Tri-Area Community Health are integrated health care centers, at which providers offer a wide range of services to patients, including general medical care, women’s health services, dental care and behavioral health care. The health centers strive to be a one-stop-shop for patient care.

Doctors and providers at the health centers use the Psy.D. students to assist doctors and provide a warm handoff for other services, as it is rare for a patient to visit with only one issue.

“[The CHC] brings together mental health and behavioral health with more traditional medicine and dentistry in a place that really helps to lower stigma and get people introduced to mental health clinician and expand their knowledge of what services are available,” said Victor Bullock, a psychology doctoral student from Prince George.

Rural Integrated Care Expansion Project

The grant administrator, Professor of Psychology Valerie Leake, said that the grant allows funding for training sessions on a variety of health care topics for students, Radford faculty and those at the integrated health care centers.

Psy.D. students work with a licensed psychologist at the Tri-Area Community Health and with a Radford faculty member at the CHC. The director of Tri-Area Community Health, Dr. Joshua Bradley, is a Radford alumnus.

Bradley is designated to work one hour each week with students assigned at Tri-Area Community Health, as well as providing help on an on-call basis. At the CHC, students work with Assistant Professor of Psychology Nick Lee.

Leake said that the grant pays for the practitioners services with the students. In the case of Bradley, it compensates for time away from patients at the clinic.

Psy.D. students provide mental health counseling for patients at these clinics, but because they aren’t licensed, the clinics cannot charge for these services.  

The mission of the grant is to expand the available training slots for each of the doctoral students in the integrated health care setting.

“The integrated care experience is really important,” Leake said. “There will always be a role for traditional psychologists in private practice in various roles. In many communities, there is a huge move toward integrated care. It reduces the stigma of mental health care.”

Jun 26, 2018
Max Esterhuizen