Emily Chapman

Supervisor: Shelley Ross

Project: In-depth evaluation of mental health and addictions training in family medicine residency to improve prevention and early intervention initiates for youth and adults in this setting

Degree program:

Medicine & Dentistry-Family Medicine

Lay abstract:

Family physicians are uniquely positioned in the community and are often the first point of contact when health concerns arise. In addition, family physicians play an important role in maintaining and improving public health through health promotion (e.g., focusing on improving health before illness develops). Mental health is now considered to be the number one disease burden by the World Health Organization. Unfortunately, availability of services for addiction and/or mental health has not matched demand, particularly for vulnerable groups, such as women and children. Based on this information, we propose a change is needed beginning in family medicine training so when community members reach out to family physicians, as the first point of contact for support with health, family physicians are competent and confident in the area of screening, brief interventions and referral to treatment pathways. As such, the purpose of this research is to better understand the training family residents receive in the area of addiction and mental health and to identify gaps in learning to inform curriculum development.

What motivated you to participate in this research?

I became motivated to participate in this research topic as it incorporated my interest in family medicine, addiction and mental health. Patients with addiction and/or mental health challenges are increasingly seeking first-line support in primary care; however, evidence suggests that the training family residents receive may not be sufficient to provide appropriate care to these individuals. The results from my studentship research project have the potential to inform my future practice as a physician, while enhancing the discipline of family medicine overall. Further research and education about addiction and mental health may support the competence and confidence of primary care physicians in their ability to serve vulnerable populations, such as women and children. Because of these aspects, I saw this as an opportunity to engage in a meaningful, relevant and timely area of medical education research.

What are your career aspirations?

I’m currently entering my second year of medicine at the University of Alberta. Prior to entering medical school, I completed two degrees: one in science and the other in education. My career aspiration is to integrate my passion for education with medical practice once I graduate.

How has this studentship helped you toward those aspirations?

This research opportunity has provided the unique experience to explore family medicine, addiction and mental health. Through my research, I’ve gained insight into family physicians' ability to address and support patients with addiction and/or mental health challenges, and some of the barriers patients experience when accessing primary care. More specifically, I’ve been able to examine detailed notes on patient-resident interactions in the clinical domains of addiction and mental health within the Family Medicine Residency Program. Ultimately, the awareness and experience I’ve gained during this studentship will enhance my practice as a future physician and my ability to serve my patients.