When I started my MSW journey, I had a difficult time choosing between the Direct Practice or Community Management and Policy Practice concentrations. Over my summer semester I learned about the Primecare program. Being accepted as a part of the Primecare program allows the opportunity to be trained in Integrated Behavioral Healthcare (don’t worry, I didn’t know what that meant either!) and attend free workshops and seminars that provide knowledge related to this profession. IBH can look very different depending on the agency. There are multiple types of integration models, and various services may be offered at each location. I decided to pursue Primecare because an integrated setting offers me the opportunity to learn assessments and brief interventions based on a mixture of treatment modalities, instead of a focus on long-term therapy- all in a fast-paced medical setting!
I am working at the Prospect Hill Community Health Center, a fully integrated rural clinic that uses the patient-centered medical home model and operates under Piedmont Health Services. PHCHC opened in 1970, and was the first community health center in North Carolina. They are a teaching site for various professions through UNC, including Social Work, Pharmacy, and Family Medicine. At PHCHC, patients are able to receive most of their needed health services in one location-spanning from medical care, dental services, WIC, pharmacy, Behavioral Health, ACA Enrollment, and more! My supervisor is the only Behavioral Health Clinician on staff and is an LCSW. Essentially, our services are requested by the patient’s Primary Care Provider (PCP), usually because they scored positive on our annual screening for depression and substance misuse. There are also many other co-existing mental and behavioral health conditions we work with patients on, especially patients who are experiencing chronic disease. Though there is no typical visit, the majority of the time we spend 20-40 minutes conducting functional assessments and implementing brief interventions with the patient, based on the presenting problem as identified by both the PCP and the patient.
Other than the widely diverse group of patients I am able to work with, I highly value the interprofessional experience that I am acquiring. Working in a team can be very challenging at times, but when all members of the healthcare team have the patient at the forefront of their mind, it is amazing to see what quality care the patient receives! Below, you can see a few of the professions that I may collaborate with at the clinic.
If Primecare sounds like an opportunity you might be interested in but still have questions, reach out to one of the Student Ambassadors and let us know! Happy Fall, y’all!