Education & Workforce

Education and Workforce
There is a significant need to train behavioral health and primary care clinicians to work together as teams.

An estimated 26 percent of patients seen in primary care meet criteria for a mental disorder1; however, according to a large national sample survey (n = 9,282), only 41 percent of people with mental disorders received any form of treatment in the preceding year2. And while more of these people received treatment in primary care than in any other setting, the treatment provided in the primary care setting met minimal adequacy standards only 13 percent of the time.

Neither the professional workforce nor the system of structuring and paying for care is adequate to address the need for behavioral health services in the United States3. However, multiple studies suggest that collaboration between medical and behavioral health providers improves patient outcomes and satisfaction4,5.

Education and training of the workforce is essential if we hope to adopt integrated behavioral health and primary care on a widespread basis. 

Integrated care team members may include:

  • Primary care clinicians, physician’s assistants, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners
  • Behavioral health providers such as social workers, psychologists, mental health counselors, substance abuse counselors, and family and marriage therapists
  • Allied health professionals or paraprofessionals such as health educators, care coordinators, depression care coordinators, community health workers, promotores de salud, peer coaches, or patient navigators.

Since our traditional educational and training paradigm has not focused on collaboration and a comprehensive, team-based approach, the majority of our health care workforce has not received training on working together to provide effective integrated services6.

Training and education programs that are focused on integration are emerging. More than 90 are listed in our Programs section.

Visit the literature collection for a list of citations on integration Education and Workforce issues.

Latest News

Two recent Health Affairs blog posts cite strategies to re-engineer Graduate Medical Education (GME) to better serve integrated primary care.

Expansion of the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program could help to address the current primary care physician shortage as well as the mental health workforce shortage, according to the authors of two Health Affairs Blog... Read more

The Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC) partnered with the National Center for Interprofessional Education to create a series of five podcasts, “Stories from the Nexus: Progress and Promise.” The podcasts are based on the PCPCC report... Read more

Recent Collaborative Family Healthcare Association (CFHA) blog posts have featured approaches to supervision of behavioral health professionals in primary care. Part I, featured in... Read more

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) released in March 2015 new training recommendations calling for residency programs to educate the next generation of psychiatrists in integrated behavioral... Read more

Despite the changing health care environment’s increasing need for primary care physicians that can manage populations, deliver care in interdisciplinary teams and address quality outcomes, national data indicate that not enough students and residents are choosing careers in primary care. According to family medicine organizations and researchers, “factors that influence specialty choice [... Read more

Despite increasing awareness of integrated behavioral health and primary care, little is known about the distribution of integration across the United States. Currently, there is a lack of information at the state and national levels about:

Number and location of primary care practices with integrated behavioral health; Where the potential for collaboration exists through provider... Read more

With significant changes occurring in the health care system, psychiatry’s role is also evolving leading to an increased need for transforming education and training programs. In this article, Doctors Richard Summers and Jeffery Liberman describe five specific areas of focus for training the psychiatrists of the future so the field can keep up with the changing health care system and... Read more

Demonstrated workforce competencies are essential to successfully meet both patient and provider needs and cost constraints in integrated primary care settings. Since 2007, approximately 1,500 health care professionals have received this specialized training through The Certificate Program in Primary Care Behavioral Health at the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Integrated Primary Care... Read more

Expert Insight

As behavioral health services in primary care settings become more widely implemented across the country, the need for skilled providers in this area grows. In response to this demand, initiatives to cross-train behavioral health providers are under way. The goal of these training programs is to ensure these providers can successfully integrate their various disciplines into the primary care field.

“Training for behavioral health providers in primary care is in the early stages of developing an infrastructure. There are a few training programs or tracks specifically for work in... Read more

Sandra Bailly, M.S.W, of the Simmons School of Social Work, interviewed Alexander Blount, Ed. D., Director of the Center for Integrated Primary Care at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. This interview outlines what social work students should expect when learning about the practice of integrated primary care, as well as the training implications for those in that field. Dr. Blount says that social workers and primary care providers (PCPs) face many of the same challenges because the majority of behavioral health issues will only ever be treated in the primary care setting. In... Read more

Mon, 11/03/2014