WVU plans rural psychiatry residency training to help patients with limited access to care in North Central W.Va.

Friday, August 2, 2019

West Virginia University will expand its capacity for treating psychiatric patients in North Central West Virginia by establishing a rural residency program in counties identified as Health Professional Shortage Areas, or HPSAs.

With funding from a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant, residents in Barbour, Braxton, Gilmer, Harrison, Lewis, Marion, Taylor and Upshur counties could see an increase in resident provided services as early as 2021.

WVU School of Medicine faculty will use the nearly $748,000 to develop the infrastructure for a rural residency training track where residents will use a combination of in-person and telehealth/telepsychiatry treatment modalities with their patients.

“Suicide and addiction are not exclusive to our clinical campuses at WVU,” Dr. Daniel Elswick, M.D., Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry associate professor and psychiatry residency director said. “As a land-grant institution, it’s our responsibility to find ways to better the lives of West Virginians and their access to care. This rural track will also provide our medical residents with unique training and a better understanding of the challenges our patients face when seeking care in rural settings.”

Key partners include the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry, WVU Institute for Community and Rural Health, the United Summit Center, WVU Medicine, Louis K. Johnson Veterans Medical Center, and Community Care of West Virginia.

“Ultimately, we hope and expect that many of these residents will enter the workforce in these communities following their training,” Elswick said. “West Virginia has so much to offer to these trainees. This rural residency track helps to highlight those opportunities to give back to underserved communities.”

Faculty leads from WVU include Elswick, who serves as the grant’s principle investigator; Institute for Community and Rural Health Director Dr. Larry Rhodes; and Director of Telepsychiatry Dr. Kari-Beth Law.

“This prestigious HRSA grant will have a significant impact on the lives of many West Virginians,” Dr. Rhodes said. “The partnership between the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry and the WVU Institute of Community and Rural Health is an example of how two distinct WVU programs can work together for the good of our state."

For more information on the WVU School of Medicine, visit medicine.wvu.edu. For information on Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry residency programs, visit medicine.hsc.wvu.edu/bmed/residents. 

-WVU-

Cat 07/31/19

CONTACT: Cassie Thomas, WVU School of Medicine

304-293-3412, cassie.thomas@hsc.wvu.edu