New UK Residency Program will Train Physicians on Holistic Approach to Medical, Psychiatric Conditions

As part of the Office of Graduate Medical Education’s continued expansion of its graduate medical program opportunities, the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and UK HealthCare have established a new residency program to equip medical trainees with the necessary knowledge and experience to best treat Kentucky patients with both medical and psychiatric needs.

In July, the College of Medicine will welcome its first class of residents who will pursue a combined residency in internal medicine and psychiatry, putting the University of Kentucky at the forefront of addressing the need for this combined training.

The inaugural class will include three residents: one PGY-2 and two interns. At capacity, the program will train 10 residents at once.

Program directors Sandra Batsel-Thomas, MD, associate professor of psychiatry, and Kristy Deep, MD, associate professor of internal medicine, led the creation of the internal medicine/psychiatry residency program as part of a national push to establish combined training at academic medical centers. Sarah Oros, MD, a combined trained physician in internal medicine and psychiatry and assistant professor of psychiatry, also has been integral in planning the curriculum and structure of the program. Dr. Oros serves as associate program director.

“It seems like psychiatrists and clinicians are so siloed right now, but patients aren’t siloed. There are a lot of patients with both medical and psychiatric issues, and unfortunately, so many of them end up on medicine because our inpatient psychiatry unit isn’t able to manage the medical care,” Dr. Batsel-Thomas said. “So there’s really a need for people who are trying to treat the whole person in a better, more holistic way.”

The program will provide equal time for residents to train in both medicine and psychiatry. It will combine seven years of medical training into five, using elective time for program requirements. The first year of the program will involve six months of medicine and six months of psychiatry, rotating between the two specialties throughout the curriculum while including some combined sections.

Because the program will be housed at UK HealthCare, residents will gain experience through the hospital system’s expansive network:

  • UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital, an academic tertiary acute care hospital that cares for the sickest patients in the state
  • UK Good Samaritan Hospital, a community hospital with both inpatient medicine and behavioral health units
  • VA Hospital and Ambulatory Clinics, which provide innovative care for veterans
  • Eastern State Psychiatric Hospital, which provides recovery-focused, individualized inpatient acute care mental health services in a modern, comfortable setting
  • University of Kentucky Student Health Clinic, which provides opportunities to care for young adults
  • New Vistas Community Mental Health Center, Central Kentucky’s non-profit multiservice mental healthcare network

A major goal of the program is to encourage physicians to use what they have learned in the program to practice medicine and psychiatry in Kentucky.

“Our state has a need to improve access to health care, primary care, and mental health care, particularly in rural areas,” Dr. Deep said. “As a hospital system that takes in the state’s sickest patients, we see this program as a mechanism to provide a one-stop shop for patients with both medical and psychiatric medical and mental health conditions so we can meet the health care needs of the Commonwealth.”

The internal medicine/psychiatry residency program joins UK’s other combined residency programs including med-peds and pediatrics/psychiatry/child psychiatry, one of the first triple-board residency programs in the country.

For more information about UK’s graduate medical programs, visit www.gme.med.uky.edu.