For family practitioners, attending the combined CME program provided more
than information on improving care for their patients (see Teamwork Helps
Family Medicine, Psychiatry Break Down Walls).
Bobby Joe, M.D., lives in Memphis but works in a private practice 40 miles
down the road in Tunica, Miss. His patients come from poor, rural areas, and
Joe encounters a lot of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Those
topics were covered well by members of the University of Tennessee family
medicine, cardiology, endocrinology, and other departments.
"But about 40 percent of my patients also have some sort of
psychiatric problem, too—mostly depression," said Joe. So he
listened closely to the talks by the members of the Department of Psychiatry.
They spoke on topics such as treating bipolar disorder, psychiatric
complications of HIV/AIDS, evaluating suicide risk, and psychiatry in
geriatric populations. A panel discussed psychiatric emergencies and
psychopharmacology for children and adolescents.
"I wanted to learn about how I can initiate therapy safely in my
patients," he said. "I want to be able to talk to a patient
presenting with psychiatric symptoms, and if I feel on solid ground, start the
In more emergent cases, though, he prefers to refer the patient or consult
with a psychiatrist. The CME program not only provided him with up-to-date
psychiatric information he can apply to cases in his practice, but also
allowed him to meet informally with psychiatrists he can call on later.
"These local connections are important beyond just learning the
latest information in the field," he said. "I want to be able to
put a face to a name when I pick up the phone to call a specialist."
The nature of the family practice model may also open doors for better
follow-up, said David Maness, D.O., chair of the Department of Family Medicine
at the University of Tennessee.
"Family practice doctors can do some brief counseling on their own,
set up appropriate intervals for following a patient, or refer for local
psychotherapy, as needed," said Maness. ▪