Conference on mental health treatment proves popular with primary care providers

March 22, 2017

When the OHSU School of Medicine's Division of Continuing Professional Development decided to offer its first ever conference on mental health care for primary care providers, its stretch goal for attendance was 75.

The conference, held March 17 at the Sentinel Hotel in downtown Portland, drew 112 participants. Physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners came from the metro area, across the state and as far away as San Diego.

"Primary care providers are having to handle so much mental health care for their patients, and many don't feel they have had enough formal training or the formal training they received was years ago," said Nels Carlson, M.D., assistant dean for continuing professional development, OHSU School of Medicine.

The conference, "Mental Health: Challenges and Treatment in Adult Primary Care," was a response to requests from providers for this type of training. Moderated by David Mansoor, M.D. '04 R '09, associate professor of psychiatry, OHSU School of Medicine, and staff physician, VA Portland Health Care System, the training covered:

  • The epidemiology and clinical presentation of common psychiatric disorders seen in primary care –from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to bipolar disorder.
  • Approaches to diagnoses of common psychiatric disorders.
  • Treatment planning involving pharmacotherapy and non-pharmacological interventions, including when to refer a patient to a mental health provider.

And, in another first, the division offered a remote conference in Coos Bay/North Bend where about 15 local providers watched the presenters and viewed the presentations on a screen in a conference room arranged by the Bay Area Hospital and staffed by an OHSU provider relations specialist.

"The remote option for the conference saved us money and, more importantly, time," said Geraldine Somera, M.D., internal medicine, Bay Area Hospital and North Bend Medical Center. "With more advertising, I believe more physicians and allied health professionals from North Bend/Coos Bay will attend."

Carla McKelvey, M.D., M.P.H., regional associate dean, OHSU Rural Campus Coos Bay/North Bend, and Linda Martin, south coast site coordinator, were key advocates for holding the remote conference in Coos Bay.

The Division of Continuing Professional Development is eager to expand its ability to offer remote conferences in locations across the state, as well as additional conferences on the topic of mental illness, such as a training specific to treating adolescents in need of mental health care.

"This is a 96,000 square mile campus and our learners are all Oregonians," said Christine Flores, M.P.H., administrative director of continuing professional development, OHSU School of Medicine. "We were thrilled by the success of our pilot in Coos Bay and look forward to partnering with colleagues across the state to offer more training opportunities to providers on the front lines of improving the health of Oregonians."