Pediatric primary care behavioral health track
Geisinger’s pediatric primary care behavioral health (PCBH) track offers you a comprehensive training program in short-term, evidence-based treatment in the primary care setting. As an innovative healthcare system serving thousands of patients within rural settings, Geisinger is focused on improving patient access to both physical and mental healthcare. Pediatric psychologists are fully integrated into primary care teams throughout the system.
This track offers an exciting chance for you to work side by side with medical professionals to provide effective interventions to children, adolescents, and families across Pennsylvania.
As the field of psychology continues to shift toward an emphasis on team-based care, the demand for well-qualified integrated primary care psychologists is growing. This track offers a unique opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in this fast-paced field. Upon completing this track, you’ll leave the program with a strong knowledge of clinical skills, operational factors, administrative procedures and program evaluation approaches unique to integrated care.
You will build and maintain strong relationships with medical partners, conduct brief consultations and interventions, implement systems-level interventions and design program evaluations. Many program graduates pursue careers in integrated primary care and serve as leaders in the implementation of this model at major health systems and universities.
At Geisinger, we adhere to the scientist-practitioner model of psychological practice. Clinical training experiences follow the apprentice model. You are supervised by faculty members with active clinical practices and function with considerable autonomy, assuming junior-level staff responsibilities.
As a participant in the program, you’re expected to:
- Develop clinical skills to support independent practice
- Collaborate in the medical setting by learning about the medical culture, serving as interdisciplinary team members and consulting with medical professionals
- Work with culturally diverse groups and respect individual differences
- Apply research skills in a clinical setting
- Uphold high standards of patient care and professional ethics
- Use scientific evidence to guide practice
- Advocate for the profession of psychology
Over the training year, you will expand your skills in the areas of assessment, treatment, consultation and research. Clinical experiences are of primary importance with particular emphasis placed on learning behavior change methods. Faculty members provide supervision in empirically supported therapies including cognitive-behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and motivational interviewing.
Pediatric PCBH clinics are in 17 practices across Pennsylvania. These clinics are divided into the following three regions: Western, Central and Eastern. Some clinics, known as “hubs,” also accept patients from nearby partnering clinics, known as “extensions.”
As an intern, you are assigned to a region and have multiple clinical experiences within that region. Primary care sites vary in terms of level of integration, patient populations and treatment experiences. Intern cohorts meet monthly for didactic seminar day for all interns.
Clinical practice in pediatric PCBH setting
You will provide evidence-based individual, group and family therapy approaches in the primary care setting. In this setting, there is an emphasis on short-term, problem-focused assessment and brief intervention. You’ll develop treatment plans in collaboration with primary care providers (PCPs) and deliver all services on-site in medical practices. You will operate on a similar schedule as faculty, offering 60-minute new patient evaluations and 40-minute return therapy sessions.
Consultation & collaboration
Behavioral health clinicians (BHCs) function as central members of the primary care team. As such, consultation time is built into the schedule to allow for frequent face-to-face consultations with PCPs throughout the clinic day. This consultation may include education on a behavioral health topic or specific guidance on their approach to a patient issue. You’ll have warm handoffs from medical providers throughout the day. During a warm handoff, a medical provider introduces a patient to the BHC for an unscheduled visit or consultation. Warm handoffs may involve patient education, brief intervention, triage for evaluation, introduction to and scheduling of services, or help with behavioral issues during the medical visit (e.g., shot administration).
Crisis evaluation & treatment
PCBH clinics aim to provide timely patient care close to home and reduce unnecessary utilization of high-intensity services in the emergency room or inpatient setting. Consistent with this goal, you and faculty support PCPs in the same-day management of crisis situations. You’ll expand your skills in crisis risk assessment, safety planning and stabilization in the primary care setting.
As a PCBH intern, you provide valuable training and education to PCPs, medical residents, nurses and office staff in the primary care setting. Formats vary across clinics and may include scheduled lectures and trainings, individual consultations, case conferences and clinical observation. Educational topics are tailored to meet the needs of the clinic and have included motivational interviewing, school anxiety and refusal, behavioral parent training skills, supporting transgender youth and behavioral strategies for shot administration. In addition to training the medical staff, there may be opportunities to supervise students across disciplines.
Group treatment programs
Group treatment programs in primary care may include:
- Behavioral parent training and children’s problem-solving skills training for school-age children with disruptive behavior disorders/ADHD
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for adolescents
- Gender group for members of the LGBTQ+ community
Not all primary care sites offer groups; however, trainees will spend time in multiple sites throughout the training year.
Program development & evaluation
As an intern, you will contribute to clinic-wide improvement efforts and help implement, problem-solve and evaluate these approaches. Examples of past efforts include creating a token economy to improve compliance during medical visits, the development of school note policies and the revision of vaccine administration procedures.
The Geisinger PCBH team is committed to conducting clinical outcomes research on the integrated primary care model. Schedules include protected research time, and we encourage you to participate in evaluation and dissemination efforts during training. Trainees have routinely presented at national conferences, and they contribute to manuscripts for publication.
You’ll attend one full day a month of educational seminars with all interns within our psychology internship program. Educational experiences during the training year include case conference, journal club, and faculty led seminars. Faculty-led seminars will address evidence-based techniques, ethical and professional issues, supervision, and diversity and culture.
Selection procedures and benefits
Preference is given to applicants who meet four admission criteria:
- Enrolled in an APA- or CPA-approved doctoral training program
- Have a masters degree in psychology or counseling
- At least three years of full-time graduate-level training (four years preferred)
- Passed the comprehensive or qualifying exam by the application deadline
- Approved dissertation proposal by the application deadline
Geisinger is committed to cultivating a culture of diversity and inclusion. We recognize that our team is our most valuable asset and seek to promote an environment that is welcoming of persons of all races, ethnicities, religious beliefs, genders and sexual orientations. We celebrate your life experiences, personal differences, knowledge, innovation and talent, and we work to create a welcoming and safe environment for all residents and fellows.
Geisinger is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of disability or their protected veteran status.