Rural and Public Mental Health Track
The Rural and Public Mental Health (RPMH) Track prepares residents to serve in the most underserved areas of our country and to develop expertise in the technology and the health care policy relevant to this work. Throughout the US, and within the state of Texas, rural communities have both profound shortages of psychiatrists and logistical barriers to accessing care. At UTSW, we developed the RPMH Track with the goal of training psychiatrists to serve rural communities and effectively work in the public mental health system. This track provides opportunities in public mental health systems, integrated care paradigms, telepsychiatry and related technologies, and public mental health policy. We hope that our graduates will provide both direct care to rural communities and statewide leadership in rural mental health.
RPMH Track residents will be based in Dallas during their first three postgraduate years (PGY) of training, completing core general program rotations within the UTSW affiliated institutions, including public mental health experiences through Parkland Hospital and Metrocare and psychotherapy training.
- PGY1 – In addition to completing program requirements in medicine and neurology, PGY1 residents rotate on acute inpatient psychiatry units at both Parkland and Terrell State Hospital and work in the outpatient psychiatry setting at Metrocare.
- PGY2– RPMH Track residents complete two rural outpatient psychiatry rotations at the Bonham VA outpatient clinic during the PGY2 year, in addition to core psychiatry rotations and electives in Dallas.
- PGY3 – The third year is rooted in longitudinal outpatient experiences. Track residents will have rural outpatient electives that are within driving distance of their home base in Dallas. Residents will train within the Parkland Outpatient Clinic, a core experience for all residents, as well as choose from opportunities to provide direct patient care and telepsychiatry to rural communities within a public mental health care system and an insurance-based private practice.
- PGY4 – RPMH Track residents will spend much of their time in PGY4 practicing in a rural setting. These experiences will include inpatient, outpatient, telepsychiatry, and integrated care services. Residents will be housed in rural locations, further integrating them into these communities. RPMH residents will also have the opportunity to work with state public mental health leadership in research and QI projects.
In addition to participating in general program didactic curriculum across postgraduate years 1-4, track residents will also receive specialized curriculum focused on public mental health systems, rural communities and psychiatric practice, telepsychiatry, and integrated care.
"The RPMH track was an appealing opportunity to work with a critically underserved population. As a medical student seeing patients coming to the medical center from rural North Texas communities, I observed a need for changes in how such patients access mental health care. I am looking forward to participate in innovative practice models and to understand methods in providing effective psychiatric treatment within resource-limited settings."
"As urbanization expands, there continues to be a growing disparity of psychiatric care in rural areas and public health institutions in Texas and around the nation. As part of the UTSW RPMH track, I hope to deliver quality clinical care to rural and underserved populations, identify creative ways to address this gap, and expand my knowledge base of the public systems that serve these vulnerable populations.”
"There are so many reasons why the Rural and Public Mental Health Track sparked my interest, from the track's willingness to address underserved populations to their support of my growth as a physician I already felt during my residency interview (especially regarding my interest in LGBTQI+ health care). I knew that I would get the chance to see an important, lesser known side of psychiatric care if I joined this track. And I have continued to feel that support and willingness to serve in the short time I have been here, which I believe will help shape me into the doctor I want to be."
"My interest in the rural psychiatry track stemmed from my experiences as a medical student working in colonias along the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. There, I witnessed the challenges of working with an impoverished population, reduced rates of health insurance, stigmatization of mental health conditions, and lack of access to referral resources. However, I also realized that the reward of providing reliable and compassionate mental health care to some of the most underresourced individuals in my state far outweighed the challenges and obstacles. Thus, I felt the Rural and Public Mental Health Track at UTSW would provide me the best residency training to serve such rural communities while also learning about public mental health policy, advocacy, and telepsychiatry."
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. When do residents join the track?
A. Residents apply through ERAS specifically to match into the RPMH track.
Q. Can residents join the track and still fast track into child psychiatry?
A. Yes, we strongly encourage applicants who wish to practice Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in rural settings to apply for the RPMH Track. As with general program residents who wish to fast track into a CAP fellowship, we will prioritize completion of general program requirements within the first three postgraduate years.
Q. How can I get more information?
A. Please contact the track director, Lindsey Pershern, M.D., Lindsey.Pershern@UTSouthwestern.edu