This portion of the curriculum is designed to enhance residents’ skills in interpersonal relationships and communication and to examine the types of psychopathology commonly found in the practice of family medicine. Training in the methods of behavior change that are applicable to a medical setting is also included. The overall philosophy is that experiential learning is optimal.
First Year: Training includes both didactics and behavioral precepting. Specifically, monthly small group noon conferences focus on skill-building of interpersonal techniques and strategies for behavior change. Behavioral precepting includes shadowing in the clinic, during which residents are able to utilize aforementioned skills with real-time feedback. The behavioral preceptor can also demonstrate specific techniques as well. Monthly “open agenda” discussions allow residents an opportunity to discuss issues both personally and professionally and to offer suggestions for improving the learning environment. Lastly, a psychosocial home visit is conducted in order to appreciate a patient’s biopsychosocial environment and to incorporate insights into direct clinical care in subsequent office visits.
Second Year: Monthly small-group didactics focus on mental health issues common to the family medicine setting and expand the skillset outlined in the first year. Behavioral precepting continues and open agenda meetings shift to a bi-monthly basis.
Third Year: Behavioral Medicine precepting in the clinic continues, as well as an additional psychosocial home visit with a geriatric focus. The focus of monthly small group didactics shifts to professional issues, such as confidentiality and informed consent, as well as to making a successful transition from residency to practice. The four-week psychiatry rotation involves direct education from Beacon Behavioral Health and may include inpatient and outpatient patient care. Bi-monthly open agenda meetings remain in place.
Longitudinal Learning in Behavioral Medicine: In addition to small-group didactics, monthly noon conferences to all residents address relevant behavioral topics. These are presented by a variety of interdisciplinary clinicians (e.g., psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed mental health professionals). The behavioral medicine team is additionally available on an as-needed basis to support residents in the care of their patients. Whether in the clinic staffing room, by appointment or an informal consultation, the team is a resource for residents to address the psychosocial needs of patients. The Director attends inpatient rounds approximately once per week for the medicine service as an additional resource point.