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CFHA in Philadelphia: A Field Trip for ETSU Doctoral Students in Clinical Psychology

Posted By Jodi Polaha, Wednesday, November 23, 2011
As a school girl, I always loved going on field trips, what kid doesn’t? What I know now is that it is just as fun, and maybe even more so, to guide one.

A few weeks ago, I took five students from East Tennessee State University (ETSU) to Philadelphia to see the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association in action. The students are in their second year in our doctoral program in clinical psychology, which has an emphasis on rural, integrated care. This semester, the students are taking my course, Primary Care Psychology; devoted to learning the language of contemporary healthcare, understanding the rationale and research behind integrated care, and evaluating models for its administration. Overall, the conference was a great way to bring to life the great potential and actual effects of their "book learning.” In particular, I was pleased to see that the content was not redundant with classroom-based knowledge, but advanced what they have learned. And, it was exciting for them to have employers asking, "When will you be finished?” with a position in integrated care in mind!

I thought blog readers might like to hear from these up-and-coming professionals themselves, so I asked them, "What impressed you most about the conference?”

Laura Maphis
I chose to earn my Ph.D. in psychology at ETSU, because I was hoping to learn how to "do” integrated care. What I have learned so far is that there is no instruction manual for "doing” integrated care, that it is a pioneering endeavor, and that the more I learn, the more questions I have. For instance, how are we going to do this in primary care when primary care has its own unique problems (e.g., fewer physicians seeking generalist careers)? How are we going to do this with multiple insurance/coverage barriers? How are we going to do this with little legislative support? As a graduate student new to the integrated care frontier, I felt the excitement of this "frontier” enhanced by the vastness of it (so many questions!), as well as the isolation of having only a small minority of U.S. care providers on-board. I am super impressed with how the 2011 CFHA conference was able to give shape and form to this vastness by honing treatments for specific disorders, treatment modalities, issues inherent in working with special populations, ethical concerns, billing and reimbursement considerations, cultural considerations, issues at the provider level, and education and research as they pertain to integrated care. Moreover, the collaborative nature of the CFHA conference made me feel, if only for a few days, part of a majority. As a result, I feel more capable of navigating this frontier in the future, and know that I will be in good company.

Sheri Nsamenang
My trip to CFHA happened right when I needed better shape to my career aspirations. Aside from the things I learned from listening to talks by renowned leaders in the field, the mentoring opportunity, the friendliness and the willingness of conference attendants to discuss the practicality of collaborative care, I was inspired by the informative research presentations at the poster sessions. While I have increasingly become conversant with the clinical practice of collaborative care, I have been less familiar with conducting research in primary care settings. As I visited various researchers and learned about their projects, I was exposed to a plethora of research topics, ideas, and designs. Although I did not necessarily leave the conference with an idea to research, I left with ideas on how I could design studies, examine interventions, and how to examine non-conventional data such as patient charts in a primary care setting. Off additional importance, I left feeling that there was an audience for primary care research. A highlight moment for me as I walked from one poster to the next, was meeting researchers from Japan. As an international student, this encounter made me realize that, CFHA was an association I could rely on in the future if I were practicing collaborative care somewhere in Africa.

Alishia Foster
At this conference, the model I had become accustomed to reading about had taken on new life. I felt I was part of a dynamic process of change and that the struggles of integrated care are also my own struggles. For example, sustainability was a prominent topic, and I found myself debating with my fellow students over pitching integrated care to insurance companies, the use of H&B codes, as well as the reality of current dependence on grant funding for many programs. Amidst the brainstorming over those few days and after, I felt that we are the generation rising up to follow in the footsteps of those we’ve read about such as Strosahl and Blount and be the innovators for a changing age of health care. The conference was an enlightening and encouraging experience, reassuring me that I am on the right track!

Jamie Tedder
What impressed me most about the conference was the "boots on the ground” mentality that was such a pervasive theme across so many of the sessions. It was exciting to hear about various integrated care research and projects that are having an impact and helping people in the here and now. I felt like I could easily take the information I gathered at the conference and immediately apply it to my own clinical and research experiences. During the First-Timer’s Orientation, CFHA’s outgoing president Jennifer Hodgson made the remark that CFHA is where she feels rejuvenated professionally and I certainly now echo that statement. The new perspective I gained from the conference has completely reshaped how I view my current program of research as well as the direction I would like to see my professional career take in the future. This grad student has definitely been inspired to lace up my boots and hit the ground running!

Jenny Barnes
Of the many impressive aspects of this conference experience, I would like to address the outstanding sense of community. It was such a great feeling to engage with like-minded up-and-comers and professionals who are truly committed to high quality care. Though the different healthcare disciplines may have their differences, one would never know from observing the interactions at this conference. It can be easy to think only in terms of one’s own "bubble,” so it was refreshing to see that the push for collaborative care is happening nationwide, and not just on paper, but in real, boots-on-the-ground applications. As well, the passion at this conference was palpable, and speaking of passion, I could not think of a better way to kick off the conference than with Dr. Brenner’s opening plenary session! Overall, this conference was a great learning experience and I’m glad we made the trip from east Tennessee. This is a conference I definitely plan to attend in the future as I stay abreast of the newest innovations in integrated care.

In closing, it’s worth mentioning that I am grateful to CFHA, who provided a scholarship to each student to defray the registration cost. I am also grateful to my Department Chair, Dr. Wally Dixon, who provided funds to cover transportation and hotel costs. Without this support the field trip wouldn’t have been possible… and that would have been a real loss for the students considering all they gained at the conference in Philadelphia … not to mention the cheesesteaks!

     Left to right:                                                            
     Sheri Laura, Jamie, Jenny and Alishia

The view expressed in the blogs and comments should be understood as the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association (CFHA). No information on this blog will be understood as official. CFHA offers this blog site for individuals to express their personal and professional opinions regarding their own independent activities and interests.

Tags:  CFHA  collaboration  ETSU  Philadelphia 

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Comments on this post...

Jennifer Hodgson says...
Posted Sunday, November 27, 2011
What a beautiful blog Jodi and students. Thank you for your inspiration thoughts and refections. CFHA has always been a career shaper for me...which is why I go back year after year.

Permalink to this Comment }

Peter Y. Fifield says...
Posted Monday, November 28, 2011
It is great to hear the voices from the future of collaboration. Thank you all and I greatly look forward to hearing more from you all and other students and new professionals.
Permalink to this Comment }

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