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WHY I Chose Integrated Primary Care

With the growing wave of health psychology and integrated primary care taking the psychological world by storm, I have often been met with the question…

“WHY did you choose to train and work in integrated care?”

I find myself answering this question by merging my personal experience and passions with my professional goals of advocating for the most vulnerable people in our society.

Need. A chasm exists in the mental health world, with some of the most at-risk people in our community on one side and professionals equipped to serve them on the other. I have seen first-hand how gaps in access can ripple through entire families and communities. Real suffering is echoed in the clinics and doctors’ offices throughout our country with people facing chronic health issues such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, addiction, cancer, dementia, and more every day.

Meeting People Where They Are. Two years ago, I joined a busy integrated primary care clinic and realized the reach and impact of bringing services to patients, rather than having them navigate a complex mental health system on their own. It has been extremely energizing to engage within a multidisciplinary team with the sole goal of providing care to all patients who walk through our clinic doors.

Never a Dull Moment. This short-term, evidence-based care occurs within a fast-paced environment of twenty-minute visits, concurrent documentation in the electronic medical record, warm hand-offs, curbside consultation with providers, and completing diagnostic clarification and treatment planning with other departments in the hospital. Often meeting with ten to sixteen patients per day, my perspective on health care has drastically changed.

First Contact. At least once per day, I meet with patients who have never interacted with mental health professionals. Especially when working with older adults, I hear the phrase “I’ve never talked about this with anyone.” People are being exposed to behavioral health and therapy for the first time in their lives within their doctors’ offices; they are finding hope. Even when patients are in need of a higher level of care, it is an amazing experience to help people access therapy in their local communities and expand their network of support.

Moving Forward. My experience within integrated primary care has shown me the amazing impact a team of professionals can make in the lives of hundreds of people. Although there are always problems to solve within a system like a primary care clinic, I am grateful for the opportunity to work with so many unique, creative, and resilient people on a daily basis. I look forward to joining my peers in research, assessment, neuropsychology, community mental health, and private clinical services as we find new and innovative ways to serve our communities in the future.

What’s Your Story? Feel free to share your own reasons for choosing to train in your area of expertise within psychology in the comments section below. What motivates you? How do your personal passions and interests come alive in the work you do every day?

Author Bio:

Roseann Fish Getchell is a graduate student of clinical psychology at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. She is a member of the APAGS Committee and serves as the APAGS Member-at-Large for Membership Recruitment and Retention.