Online course aimed at improving psychiatric medication use gains support
Jolene Bostwick, Pharm.D., clinical associate professor of pharmacy and clinical pharmacy specialist in psychiatry, has been awarded $50,000 from the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation in support of a project aimed at improving psychiatric medication use.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 43 million American adults — approximately 20 percent of the population — will experience mental illness in a given year. Meanwhile, the psychiatrist population is dwindling.
“One way to increase primary and mental health care capacity is greater use of Nurse Practitioners (NPs),” suggested Bostwick. “NPs deliver high quality, safe, and effective care to diverse populations, and are more likely than physicians to provide care in a wider range of community settings and to vulnerable populations, including isolated, underserved, remote and rural areas.”
In the U.S., NPs fall under the umbrella of advanced practice registered nurses. NPs are trained at the graduate level and specialize in wide variety of practice areas. While psychiatric NPs have specialized skills in assessment, psychotherapy, psychopharmacology and care management, those specializing in primary care often encounter patients with mental illnesses and would benefit from advanced training.
“We are developing an online course on the use of medications to treat mental health disorders, or psychopharmacology, for nurse practitioners,” said Bostwick. “Through this course, we will promote the professional development of nurse practitioners and patient safety. The course will provide advanced psychopharmacology training and related management of major psychiatric disorders including major depression, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia and managing key drug interactions.”
The content will be delivered in an interactive, web-based, continuing education program in an affordable, convenient, accessible and flexible format. The course is a pilot, and will demonstrate the feasibility and usefulness of this approach to psychiatric continuing education for NPs across Michigan. It will also serve as a model for future courses aimed at both specialists and primary care prescribers.
In addition to Bostwick, the program is led by Sagar V. Parikh, M.D., associate director for education and outreach at the U-M Depression Center, John F. Greden Professor of Depression and Clinical Neurosciences in the U-M Medical School, and Maria Bastida, M.S., APRN, psychiatric nurse practitioner in the Michigan Medicine Department of Psychiatry.