UW Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Newsletter, May 2017
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Message from the Chair

Dear friends and colleagues,

In March I reported that our department received an “Employer of Choice Award” from UW Medicine because of our faculty’s consistently high level of reported satisfaction with their clinical practice. When asked in a recent provider survey, 89% of respondents said they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their clinical practice. The vast majority (97%) said they are able to “provide high quality care to [their] patients,” that the “clinical environment is supportive of building a collegial and positive team approach,” that “at work, my opinions regarding clinical care seem to count,” and that they would “recommend the UW Medicine system to my friends and family for health care.” Ninety percent of respondents endorsed that “my job gives me an opportunity to do the things that I do best.” I know how hard our clinicians work and how challenging our clinical work can be, and I am positively surprised and gratified by these reports.

I also know that our work is not finished. The same survey revealed some areas of concern. Only half (52%) of survey respondents reported that “our electronic health record (EHR) systems support me in providing high quality of care to my patients.” Many of us struggle with balancing the time we give to our patients and to the EHR. Only 59% of our faculty reported they have “access to personal development opportunities at work” and, of most concern to me, less than half (43%) of respondents reported “my personal wellness is supported at work.” While these clinician survey results only represent a subset of our faculty, informal data suggest that many of our faculty and staff share similar frustrations, and I am committed to working with all of you to improve in these important areas.

In the area of faculty development, I appreciate the partnership and the excellent work of Deb Cowley, our Vice Chair for Education and Faculty Development, who has helped us develop promotions criteria that identify meaningful academic paths for researchers, clinicians, and teachers and for creating a formal mentorship program for junior faculty. I appreciate the contributions of Jesse Markman and colleagues who recently initiated an excellent Mentorship Development Program (MDP) for faculty in our department. This small-group and interactive program aims to help faculty members develop as mentors. More information about all aspects of our mentorship program can be found on the department’s Mentorship Program intranet page. I appreciate the good work of Mark Snowden and Kari Stephens and our department’s Diversity Committee who have been working with us to help promote diversity and to address burnout. I appreciate our training directors who are working to address burnout in our trainees and to make sure that our programs are a safe space for everyone. I know we will have to address burnout in our faculty and staff if we want to address burnout in our trainees.

At this year’s annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, I attended several sessions on “physician burnout.” I am thankful for the fact that many of us continue to get great satisfaction from our clinical work here at UW Medicine. Although we do not have a formal survey, I believe that the same is true for those of us who are researchers and educators. At a recent faculty meeting, I had the opportunity of watching colleagues engage in an enthusiastic dialogue about how we can best share teaching materials and other tips for making our work more fun and effective. At the same time, I appreciate the myriad of stressors we all face every day. I am committed to doing what we can to make our department a safe, healthy and productive environment for everyone –faculty, staff and trainees. I am asking our senior leadership to work with all of you on improving our work environment and culture, on finding ways to eliminate or reduce those parts of our work that are simply not “value-added,” and on finding ways to improve our work-life balance and personal wellness. I encourage you to talk with each other, with your service chiefs and supervisors, and with me on how we can best achieve this goal. In the meantime, I want to thank you for the good work you do every day with our patients, our trainees, and in our labs.


VA-based UW Faculty Meeting
UW Psychiatry faculty members based at the VA attended their first-ever faculty meeting earlier this month at VA Puget Sound, Seattle Division. Jürgen Unützer, MD, MPH, presented on the UW Population Health Initiative and how our department is involved, Anna Ratzliff, MD, PhD, talked about the UW Integrated Care Training Program, and John Fortney, PhD, Greg Reger, PhD, and Brad Felker, MD, talked about the Virtual Specialty Care QUERI project. There was a robust turnout and an enthusiastic response for the group to meet quarterly moving forward.

David Ruskin, MD, Associate Chief of Staff, Mental Health (interim) at VA Puget Sound, led the meeting and set the stage for clinicians, researchers and educators to connect with department initiatives, people and programs. He is passionate about linking work done at the VA to work being done elsewhere in the department and feels strongly that increased communication benefits all of us, most importantly patients.

Nationwide Search for Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
We are conducting a nationwide search for someone to lead our Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and ask for your help in disseminating the job description and announcement. The Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry includes more than 60 child psychiatrists, psychologists, and other scientists who are an integral part of the department. The majority of Division faculty work at Seattle Children’s and the Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry will be responsible for the oversight of the academic mission at Seattle Children’s, ensuring excellence in clinical operations, training programs, and fostering the success of the faculty in their academic efforts.

We oftentimes find our best candidates through personal recommendations and referrals from our own network, so please spread the official job announcement as widely as possible. Thank you!

Faculty Teaching Retreat May 31
The department’s annual faculty teaching retreat is today, May 31 from 1-4:30 PM. This retreat will include presentations from Tom Soeprono, MD, Georganna Sedlar, PhD, and Aaron Green, MD, about the use of technology in classroom teaching, psychotherapy supervision, and clinical teaching. In addition, Tyra Fainstad, MD, and Addie McClintock, MD, from the Department of Medicine will lead a workshop about giving real-time feedback to trainees. If you have not yet RSVP’d, but would like to come, please contact Charisa Lantin at The retreat will be held at the UW’s Wisteria Hall at the Arboretum.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Funds Research
Molly Adrian, PhD, and Aaron Lyon, PhD, have received funding from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to examine the extent to which student-generated social media data provide the information needed to accurately predict suicide risk in high schoolers, compared to more traditional paper-and-pencil screening approaches. The Assessment of Suicide and Self-injury to Enhance School Safety project is adapting an existing software platform originally used to improve identification of suicide risk in veterans.

In addition to updating the machine learning algorithms to accurately predict suicide risk, the investigators will improve the usability and contextual appropriateness of the clinician-facing interface by evaluating factors in the school setting that directly affect technology adoption and implementation at scale. As a universal approach to suicide risk identification, strategic monitoring of social media carries considerable potential for public health impact to decrease adolescent suicide rates in the United States. Additional investigators include Dave Atkins, PhD; Ryan Calo, JD (law); Elizabeth McCauley, PhD; Megan Moreno, MD, MS Ed, MPH (pediatrics and health services); Mike Pullman, PhD; Emma Spiro, PhD (information school and sociology).

Bernier Lab Represents UW Psychiatry at IMFAR
The Bernier Lab had an amazing presence at the 2017 International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) in San Francisco, CA, with thirteen lab members presenting posters and panel discussions. Highlights include a presentation by Caitlin Hudac, PhD (post-doc) on dynamic patterns of attention in children with rare SCN2A genetic variants, and a talk by Rachel Earl (5th year in the School Psychology Program, College of Education) on phenotypic presentation and the role of parental phenotype in accounting for variability in individuals with disruptive DYRK1A mutations.

"I am thrilled with our lab's research and presentations at IMFAR,” said Raphe Bernier, PhD. “We have had a productive year in research, and it is truly amazing to see the hard work our students and staff have put into the advancement of Autism Research." For a PDF for all posters and a summary of the presentations, visit

New Network for Implementation Science
The Network of Experts in Implementation Science (NExIS) is a great way to network and learn about implementation research from experts in the greater Seattle area. Lydia Chwastiak, MD, MPH, and Dror Ben-Zeev, PhD, among others, presented their current work at the most recent meeting to over thirty faculty and trainees, generating discussion and interest among colleagues.

The purpose of NExIS is to provide research, training, clinical consultation and technical assistance focused on evidence-based, dissemination and implementation of policies. Such programs are patient-centered and address patients’ and providers’ medical and health needs through delivery systems that are financially, operationally, and clinically integrated or closely coordinated. The long-term mission of this working group is to improve the health care and public health offered to people in the UW catchment area through evidence-based implementation of novel strategies. For more information please email

Quarterly Research Report
In the third quarter of FY 2017, our department received 10 grants totaling approximately $1.17 million. This only includes competing grants, contracts and supplements processed through OSP for which we have received funding notice and does not include grants or contracts processed through the School of Medicine, Seattle Children's or VA Puget Sound. Awarded grants (January 1- March 31, 2017).

Psychiatry and Psychology Service at SCCA Expands
The Psychiatry and Psychology Service at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), directed by Jesse Fann, MD, MPH, and staffed by faculty in our department, has received approval to expand in order to provide increased on-site mental health care for patients undergoing cancer treatment. As the SCCA continues to grow – planning for the addition of a new clinic building to open in 2022 is currently underway – clinical demand has exceeded the Service’s current capacity (the Service receives over 700 new referrals per year). Starting this summer, Julia Ruark, MD, MPH, and Laurel Pellegrino, MD, will join the SCCA to provide direct patient care and supervise residents and fellows during their psycho-oncology rotations.

The Psychiatry and Psychology Service is an integral part of the SCCA’s Integrated Psychosocial Oncology Program, which uses the Collaborative Care model to integrate mental health care into cancer care. Clinical social workers who are integrated into each oncology clinic serve as care managers within a multidisciplinary team designed to meet each patient’s individual needs. The Integrated Psychosocial Oncology Program is one of the first in the country to implement this type of model in the cancer setting and continues to develop innovative approaches, including a telepsychiatry consultation program to assist outlying SCCA Network sites throughout the WWAMI region.

Trainees Team Up for Special Issue on LGBTQ People of Color
Rashad Hardaway, MD, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellow, and Seon Kum, MD, a 2016 graduate of our residency program, have papers that will be published in a forthcoming special issue of the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health on LGBTQ People of Color. The special issue is being guest edited by Vivek Datta, MD, MPH, a 2016 graduate of our residency program. The work was completed as part of Hardaway and Kum’s American Psychiatric Association/SAMHSA Minority Fellowships, and Kum’s paper is based on work he completed when a resident at UW.

LGBTQ Adolescents of Color: Considerations for Working with Youth and Their Families (James Murphy, MD, and Rashad Hardaway, MD)

Gay, Gray, Black, and Blue: An Examination of Some of the Challenges faced by Older LGBTQ People of Color (Seon Kum, MD)

Last Reminder! Graduation Ceremony June 23
The Department's annual graduation ceremony will be on Friday, June 23 beginning at 5:30 PM at the Center for Urban Horticulture. This ceremony will honor the graduates of our many educational programs. Invitations will be distributed in May. Please RSVP with Charisa Lantin at by June 9, 2017.

Heidi Combs Elected to Gold Humanism Honor Society
Congratulations to Heidi Combs, MD, for being elected into the University of Washington Undergraduate Medical Education chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. The Gold Humanism Honor Society recognizes students, residents and faculty who are exemplars of compassionate patient care and who serve as role models, mentors, and leaders in medicine. GHHS members are the ones that others say they want taking care of their own family.

Third and fourth year medical students nominated Dr. Combs for her commitment to humanism in medicine, and she was ultimately selected by student members of the UW School of Medicine Gold Humanism Honor Society chapter. Her nominations were incredibly supportive, including the example below:

“In addition to being one of the best teachers at UW (as evidenced by her perpetuity award for teaching), Heidi is a warm, enthusiastic, and brilliant face for the Psychiatry clerkship. Despite the daily challenges of working with the some of the most severely ill patients in the state, and doing so in one of the most under-resourced medical specialties, she never fails to brighten students' days with fabulous lectures, encouragements, and delightfully quirky purses. However, where she really shines is as an example of how to be a compassionate listener while also providing necessary medical care and making difficult decisions, and as a clerkship director, she is also one of the most open and supportive faculty members I have encountered.”

Slumber Camp Wins Grand Prize
Jeff Clark, MD, a psychiatry resident, received the Grand Prize for his work on Slumber Camp at the Psychiatry Innovation Lab held during the recent American Psychiatric Association meeting. Slumber Camp is an affordable, direct-to-consumer online course that teaches cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) skills. He noticed that many patients weren't able to access CBT-I in the community, and was disappointed by the quality and expense of current online offerings. Slumber Camp is the result of 18 months of work, and is planned for release in August 2017.

The Psychiatry Innovation Lab debuted at the APA’s 2016 Annual Meeting as a platform to accelerate innovative ideas and ventures that aim to improve the delivery of mental health care. This year, eight finalists from around the world pitched Psychiatric Innovations in a “Shark Tank” style event and received feedback from judges and innovation leaders from academia and industry. “It was great opportunity to connect with role models,” says Clark. “I got some great advice that will make Slumber Camp a stronger, more accessible product.” Clark received $2,500 as part of winning the Grand Prize.

Saxon, Peskind Honored by VA Puget Sound
At the recent VA Puget Sound Research Week Symposium, the Northwest Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America presented Andrew Saxon, MD, with the 2017 Jack Michaels Award for Excellence in VA Research, and Elaine Peskind, MD, with the 2017 Larry Searle Lifetime Achievement Award. Presenters at the symposium included Keren Lehavot, PhD (career development awardee), Stephen Thielke, MD (seed grant awardee) and Dianne Lattemann, PhD (seed grant awardee). The annual symposium celebrates the remarkable Research Program at VA Puget Sound Health Care System, now in its 92nd year!
For upcoming events, please visit the UW Psychiatry calendar .
Copyright © 2017 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington. All rights reserved.
University of Washington
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
1959 NE Pacific Street, Box 356560
Seattle, WA 98195

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