Anand Jayanti, MD, Psychiatry Resident
Our ACGME-accredited Psychiatry Residency Program at The University of Texas Health Science Center in Tyler (UTHSCT) is one of the institution’s newer programs, beginning in 2017. In its early stages, we already see the tremendous impact it has made for our patient population. The critical shortage of mental health providers in Texas is extremely predominant in Northeast Texas, the area UTHSCT calls home. The program welcomes six residents per year in a four-year program with a full complement of 24 residents. The goal is to train the residents in Tyler and focus on retaining them in our immediate area upon graduation.
The psychiatry residents train at UT Health Science Center at Tyler, where the inpatient census consists primarily of acute and long-term State psychiatric beds. We also operate a geriatric psychiatry unit and a robust outpatient clinic on our campus. Residents rotate at Rusk State Hospital and Terrell State Hospital during their first and second years of training. These State hospitals are unique with their variety of patients, including child/adolescent, geriatric, forensic and maximum security. Terrell State Hospital is the only State hospital to provide ECT. Our residents assist with ECT early in their training.
Nationwide, access to mental healthcare is far below other types of medical services. According to the 2015 Physician Workforce in Texas Report, of the 254 counites in Texas,185 have no psychiatrists. That’s almost 3.2 million people who do not have access to mental health services. UTHSCT has received much-needed support from the State of Texas. The state legislature committed to increase the mental and behavioral health workforce and appropriated a substantial fund over the next biennium to help address the issue.
Because of the needs identified in our area, UTHSCT offers a psychology internship and fellowship program, as part of behavioral health integration. These interns, along with other mental healthcare workers (such as licensed professional counselors and social workers), work alongside the psychiatry residents during their training to provide a comprehensive treatment plan for our patients. Additionally, the psychology faculty teach residents’ didactics that focus on therapies.
Many of the perks of residency training at UTHSCT revolve around what Tyler has to offer. Our residents love living and working in this area. Tyler is known for its strong, diverse economy, its affordability, excellent healthcare, higher education and its landscape of rolling hills and tall pine trees. Area lakes and parks offer recreation such as fishing, hiking, cycling and sight-seeing. Tyler has a dog park, and there is always a new restaurant or retail store opening. The city boasts a colorful history of rose queens and an annual rose parade. A historical area of homes, the “Azalea District” erupts each spring with the blooms of azaleas and other spring flowers. Since 1960, visitors have been making the trek to Tyler and its Azalea Trail, which stretches eight miles and attracts more than 100,000 tourists each year.
Mental health affects millions of people in America, and the stigma associated with mental health affects those who suffer as well as those who want to treat the illness. Training psychiatrists who will join the workforce addresses access to care for those who need it and shines a light on mental health awareness. Mental illness is just that – illness. Behavioral health services are simply another facet of healthcare. We are looking for residency candidates who want to treat these illnesses and devote their lives to bridging the gap of healthcare vs. mental healthcare.