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Psychology interns tour mental health services sites in rural Kansas

The trainees visited multiple Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center (SEKMHC) sites during the one-day tour.

Interns in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science Division of Psychology at the University of Kansas Medical Center recently toured multiple Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center (SEKMHC) sites in rural Kansas.

Interns Samantha Reznik, M.A., and Ruben Tinajero, M.S., along with Edward Hunter, Ph.D., director of the psychology internship program at KU Medical Center, visited SEKMHC sites in Iola, Humboldt, Chanute and Yates Center on March 12.

The tour was hosted by Shawna Wright, Ph.D., volunteer faculty in the division of psychology and associate director of the University of Kansas Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth (KUCTT), and her husband, Doug Wright, Ph.D., director of clinical services at SEKMHC. Joy Williams, telemedicine senior coordinator at KUCTT also helped coordinate the tour.

SEKMHC provides mental health care services and programs for residents in Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Neosho, Linn and Woodson counties in Kansas, and often serves individuals who are rural and medically underserved.

"Visiting the SEKMHC provided us a unique opportunity to understand the complexities of providing psychological services to patients in rural, underserved regions of the country," Tinajero said. "Above all, it increased my admiration for clinicians who work diligently each day to create relationships with organizations and patients in rural settings."

Reznik and Tinajero are on the internship program's underserved populations track, which is designed to train aspiring psychologists to help underserved populations through clinical service, educating others, training other professionals, advocacy and administering programs.

The tour, and other similar activities, give interns on the track a chance to learn about the needs and opportunities in rural and urban underserved communities.

"This was a tour of an area of Kansas where there are many individuals who are rural and medically underserved, and we seek to find providers who can work in these locations," Hunter said. "While Ruben and Sam are heading out of Kansas, they are committed to working with challenging and sometimes underserved populations"

Shawna Wright and Doug Wright supervise and train interns, while Williams works with interns and individuals who use telehealth services through the KUCTT.

Hunter hopes the tour will become an annual activity on the underserved populations track, which might attract interns to work in such locations.

Tinajero and Reznick will complete the one-year internship program in June. Tinajero will join the faculty at the University of West Virginia Medical School, where he will see some rural patient populations through telemedicine. Reznik will enter a postdoctoral residency in a special program for severely mentally ill persons at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

University of Kansas Medical Center
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Mailstop 4015
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Kansas City, KS 66160
Phone: 913-588-6400
Fax: 913-588-6414