RHA Partnering with MAHEC to Address Psychiatrist Shortage in WNC

By Dr. Michael Murray, RHA Medical Director

RHA Behavioral Health in Asheville has been partnering with the new psychiatry residency program at Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC), since the program’s inception in 2017.

MAHEC developed new psychiatry and surgical residencies to add to their existing family practice and OB/GYN residencies. The new residencies were created in a unique manner, with MAHEC partnering financially with the state of North Carolina, in order to address a pressing deficiency in terms of the numbers of these specialists in Western North Carolina.

Dr. Steve Buie, the residency director, approached me to determine if RHA might be interested in providing a community psychiatry component to the unique longitudinal instructional program that the residency was developing.

Beginning in July 2018, MAHEC psychiatry residents began rotating through to provide outpatient psychiatric services at C3356, RHA’s Comprehensive Care Center located at 356 Biltmore Avenue in Asheville. Second-year (PGY2) residents rotate through every three months and work in concert with the full-time staff providing care.

Both the RHA medical staff and the residents have commented on the mutual benefit of this arrangement, with the residents providing updated information regarding best practices and the seasoned community psychiatric practitioners providing insights into the treatment of our unique population.

There are future plans — not yet fully developed — to have more senior residents in their PGY3 and 4 years participate in optional rotations at RHA, including the possibility of working in our more rural clinics in Yancey or Mitchell counties and/or working on an ACT team.

RHA Behavioral Health has always been committed to partnering with educational institutions in an effort to provide a unique experience for students. In this case, we hope such participation will also provide RHA with a unique recruitment opportunity as these psychiatrists graduate and begin looking for employment.