Aiming to address nearby shortages in mental healthcare and to help build the bourgeoning College of Medicine, CMU’s Health Division secured a psychiatry residency this fall.
Under the umbrella of CMED, the residency will provide treatment for a wealth of psychological issues facing students and local residents as a fully-functioning psychiatric practice, and will train students looking for a career in psychiatry.
The addition of the psychiatry department is also a requirement for CMED to be accredited through the Liaison Committee on Medical Eduacation, the national accrediting body for medical schools.
“It has been a concern for years, this need for more psychiatrists in mid Michigan,” said Chief of Psychiatry Ron Bradley. “The need in Northern and lower Michigan is very important.”
Bradley said the average of the psychiatrists who do practice in the area is 62, and retiring therapists will need to be replaced. He said he was hired in summer 2012 to begin planning for the residency and recruiting students.
The first class of residents will begin in July 2014.
“It’s hard to get people to go North of Ann Arbor,” Bradley said. “We’re hoping to bring more kids up here. Hopefully, we’ll be able to grow our own kids and they’ll stay.”
Before Bradley started his work at CMU, he said, the area – and CMU students – suffered from a lack of psychiatric care. He said 959 students at CMU suffer from mental illnesses ranging from depression to alcoholism.
“There was not psychiatry in Mount Pleasant before I came,” Bradley said. “There was no psychiatric care.”
The top issue facing students, Bradley said, is drinking. Peer pressure is the biggest cause for concern regarding substance abuse.
“Drinking is a rite of passage,” Bradley said. “When you’re an 18-year-old and you’re away from your parents, you do what your peers do. It’s a million-year-old phenomenon.”
Consultation has been available this semester at CMED East in Saginaw. Bradley sees students on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with some visits on Friday. He said about eight students per day come in for treatment.
Partnering with Saginaw Hospitals, Covenant Healthcare and St. Mary’s of Michigan, Bradley hopes the residency will continue to relieve the psychiatry shortage by recruiting students into the area for training.
“The residency is intended to train people in those communities,” he said. “It’s very hard to recruit to this area.”
He explained the hospital contracts will allow the psychiatry department to supply services for the next three years. Presently staffed with six psychiatrists, Bradley hopes to add three more soon.
“We have more 100 years of experience between us,” Bradley said of his team. “We are practicers and publishers. We have some pretty cool people starting out. We’ll have the highest concentration of academic psychiatrists North of Ann Arbor.”
Founding Dean of CMED Ernest Yoder expressed his expectation that the department of psychiatry will not only provide quality education for dedicated medical students, but that he will be able to serve the underserved residents of nearby communities facing a lack of care.
“Dr. Bradley and his team are integral to providing our students with a well-rounded medical education,” Yoder said. “The residency program will allow us to reach more patients in an important area of need in the region.”