Behavioral Health Track

The Behavioral Health Track is unique elective opportunity for physician assistant students in the PA-Manhattan program.

Established in collaboration with the New York City Health + Hospitals, with the primary objective to expand knowledge of Behavioral and Mental Healthcare issues that affect patients in all aspects of their lives. This enhanced instruction will offer students in the track an additional skill set to identity and address the mental health needs of the patients they serve and can be integrated into all aspects of practice, regardless of clinical setting.

The Behavioral Health Track instruction consists of 2 seminar style courses that begin in the didactic year. In the clinical year, in addition to a core Behavioral Health Supervised Clinical Practice Experience (SCPE), students will be required to take at least one additional elective rotation/SCPE in behavioral health. Upon successful completion of all Behavioral Track requirements, students will receive a certificate of completion.

Behavioral Health Advanced Seminars

The seminars occur over two semesters in the didactic year and cover the emerging and expanding role of the physician assistant in behavioral healthcare, including, but not limited to, collaborative/integrated care. There is a focus on:

  • the benefits of prevention and wellness within the general population
  • a bio-psychosocial approach to human development throughout the life stages, specifically related to disorders of cognition, emotion and behavior is utilized.

Students are presented the etiology and risk factors, including cultural/social factors, that influence the disease processes of major psychiatric illnesses across medical conditions and various settings, along with the barriers individuals confront in seeking help (stigma, financial, accessibility, etc.).

These seminars provide a basic framework for the importance of developing the therapeutic alliance, awareness and proper selection/administration of assessment tools, and various treatments of common psychiatric disorders seen in general medical practices; these treatment modalities include evidence-based practices such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI).

Understanding the various roles of multi-disciplinary team members is essential in the identification and treatment (referral when indicated) of behavioral and mental healthcare conditions. A student-centered teaching model will be integrated into the courses along with the use of lecture, multi-media presentations, class activities and demonstrations, including modeling and role playing (clinician and simulated patient), to give the students the most relevant and comprehensive learning opportunity.

Behavioral Health Track Requirements

Didactic Year

PAMN 608 - Behavioral Health Advanced Seminar I (Summer-2 Credits)

This course is designed to focus on and expand student knowledge base, skills, theories, research models, and critical issues in Behavioral Health. Topics in the seminar focus on advanced-level knowledge and skills regarding public-sector delivery systems, financing, collaborative/integrated care, and the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). The role of mental health counseling, structures and operations of professional organizations, ethical and legal considerations related to counseling, and multicultural issues in mental health are explored. Behavioral Health Advanced Seminar I provides students with the integral knowledge and skills pertaining to the diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and prevention of behavioral health related issues. This course emphasizes the role of mental health counseling within the context of the community, strategies for community needs assessment, program interventions, and management of mental health services and programs. Prerequisite: PAM 605 and Approved Application into the Behavioral Health Elective Track.

PAMN 609 - Behavioral Health Advanced Seminar II (Fall-2 Credits)

This course presents the BIHN-psychosocial approach to human development, and the context for thinking about disorders of emotion and behavior that appear and play a role in outcomes across medical conditions and settings. Students are exposed to basic human behavior, major mental illnesses, psychological development, personality functioning, and cultural/social factors that may influence disease processes. The seminar provides a basic framework for understanding the assessment and treatment of common psychiatric disorders seen in general medical practices, and an understanding of when specialized consultation with behavioral health specialists is needed. Emphasis is placed on the application of new medical knowledge to clinical situations, diagnostic 206 problem-solving, development of a clinical formulation, and differential diagnoses. Students refine their ability to reason independently in developing treatment and management plans for various patient presentations.

Prerequisite: PAMN 608.

Behavioral Health Clinical Experience (part of Advanced Seminar II)

Clinical Year

PACN 678 - Behavioral Health and Psychiatry (required for all students)

The students are assigned to work under the supervision of a licensed physician and/or physician assistant as part of the psychiatric health care team. The rotation is designed to give students practical experience in the diagnosis and management of psychiatric patients in the clinical setting. Students will work to sharpen their ability to recognize psychiatric diagnoses in the outpatient and/or inpatient settings, with the goal of applying their knowledge and skills to the many other disciplines of medicine and clinical practice. In this rotation, students will evaluate and manage patients with a variety of psychiatric problems, do follow-up evaluations of those patients seen in the Psychiatric Emergency Room, and develop skills in the performance of mental status exams and psychiatric interviews. Students study the diagnoses and treatment plans of child and adolescent patients, and the daily, intensive long-term treatment of severely disturbed out-patients, to gain an understanding of psychopathology, therapeutic community and team functioning. Students incrementally develop the ability to analyze and synthesize medical information, to reason independently, and to apply the concepts of medical decision-making and problem-solving to complex patient presentations. Students are expected to attend scheduled lectures. Students will be required to take a comprehensive exam upon completion of the rotation. 5 credits

One or more of the followng:

PACN 677 - Psychiatry Elective

Students are assigned to work under the supervision of licensed physicians and/or physician assistants in conjunction with the health care team in an inpatient psychiatric setting, where they will learn a biopsychosocial approach to mental illness. In this rotation, students will evaluate and manage patients with a variety of psychiatric problems, do follow-up evaluations of those patients seen in the Psychiatric Emergency Room, and develop skills in the performance of mental status exams and psychiatric interviews. Students study the diagnoses and treatment plans of child and adolescent patients, and the daily, intensive long-term treatment of severely disturbed out-patients, to gain an understanding of psychopathology, therapeutic community and team functioning. Students incrementally develop the ability to analyze and synthesize medical information, to reason independently, and to apply the concepts of medical decision-making and problem-solving to complex patient presentations. Students are expected to attend scheduled lectures. Students will be required to take a comprehensive exam upon completion of the rotation. 5 credits

PACN 650 - Behavioral Health Elective

This elective clinical learning experience is available to students who have elected to complete the Behavioral Health Track and who have already completed the Psychiatry core rotation and the Behavioral Health Elective rotation. This elective rotation provides students with additional in-depth clinical training in the treatment of patients with behavioral health problems. Students learn with the supervision of licensed physicians and psychiatric physician assistants as well as other mental health professionals in clinical settings such as the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP), and Behavioral Health Primary Care Outpatient Clinics. Students continue to build on the knowledge and skills they have acquired in their Behavioral Health Elective. Prerequisite: PACN 678. 5 credits

Culminating Semester

PACN 700 - Advanced Elective Rotation

This is a second elective learning experience of 4 weeks’ duration, scheduled during the last semester of the program, where the student develops a one-on-one relationship with the supervising physician. The student has the opportunity to gain a more advanced level of clinical experience in an area or specialty of future employment. Students are expected to analyze and synthesize medical information, to reason independently, and to apply the concepts of medical decision-making and problem-solving to complex patient presentations. Students are required to write a clinical research paper and/or give a presentation on a relevant topic or case. Prerequisite: Any one of PACN680-PACN 690. 4 credits

Master’s Capstone Project in a Behavioral Health-Related Topic (required for MPAN 659)

This course is designed as a capstone to the program and the culmination of the research module. Students will develop an original scientific question that will advance the field of medicine, social policy, or PA practice. Students work with course instructor/advisor to prepare a literature review of publishable quality. Students learn the structure of a research project, appropriate use of APA format, scientific prose and professional writing style that is appropriate for biomedical fields. Students understand how to interpret research findings reported in the literature; synthesize, draw conclusions, and make recommendations; and think critically about the applications to clinical practice. Students work with course instructor/advisor to formulate a research question, perform literature searches on the topics, and produce an annotated bibliography, with the end resulting in a 20-30-page Master’s paper of publishable quality that explores a research question thoroughly, draws novel conclusions, and puts forth recommendations that impact health care delivery or practice. Selected students will have the opportunity to present their topic to an audience. The course consists of advisory sessions, along with substantial independentresearch time. As part of MPAN 659, students may have the opportunity for advanced clinical training. 3 credits