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P21. Increasing Behavioral Health Providers in Underserved Areas: A Workforce Expansion Program

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P21. Increasing Behavioral Health Providers in Underserved Areas: A Workforce Expansion Program

Learner category:

  • Intermediate Level

Learning objectives:

  • Participants will describe the structure of a team-based inter-professional behavioral health training.
  • Participants will discuss the short-term and long-term impact of the behavioral health training


Background: There is a workforce shortage of behavioral health professionals in treating people with substance use disorder across the nation, especially in rural and underserved areas. To help address this shortage, a workforce expansion program was created to provide advanced training to graduate students. This project aims to improve students’ knowledge and skills in providing behavioral health care and increase the number of well-trained behavioral health providers working in underserved areas. Methods: We developed a well-structured, multifaceted didactic training program that addressed issues such as substance abuse treatment, interprofessional education, evidence-based treatment, cultural competency, integrated care, as well as a motivational interviewing simulation. Questionnaires measuring knowledge and competencies as well as focus groups were used to collect quantitative and qualitative data. Furthermore, we followed up with students who have completed the training program regarding their career choice. Results: A total of 64 graduate students from four graduate programs (psychiatric nursing, social work, mental health counseling, and rehabilitation counseling) participated in the training program. After completing the program, students demonstrated significate improvement in various outcomes. Focus groups revealed that the training program was extremely helpful and meaningful to the students. Our follow-up survey showed that most of the students are now working in a variety of settings treating underserved populations. Conclusion: Our findings indicated that a structured addiction training program has a positive short-term impact on graduate students’ knowledge and skills in delivering behavioral health care as well as a long-term impact on their career choice in working with underserved populations.


Yu-Ping Chang
PhD, RN, FGSA, FIAAN, FAAN, University at Buffalo

Dr. Yu-Ping Chang is the Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Endowed Professor, Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship and an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing with the University at Buffalo. Dr. Chang has a Masters Degree in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing and a PhD in Nursing. Her research focuses on integrating behavioral interventions, including motivational interviewing and mindfulness-based stress reduction, for substance abuse and mental health in primary care settings and evaluating the effects of intervention on various outcomes.

Christopher Barrick
PhD School of Nursing, University at Buffalo

Dr. Christopher Barrick is a clinical psychologist and works as a Research Associate Professor with the University at Buffalo’s School of Nursing. Dr. Barrick has a PhD in Psychology. His research interests focuses on looking at effective ways to disseminate evidence-based interventions into broad clinical practice and using technology to facilitate clinical substance abuse research.

Kurt Dermen
PhD, Department of Psychiatry, University at Buffalo

Dr. Dermen works to improve health promotion, prevention and treatment and to support dissemination of empirically supported practices. His primary focus has been on developing, training, supervising, evaluating, and disseminating motivational and behavioral interventions for substance use disorders and for health risk behavior in substance-using populations. His efforts have involved testing facilitation of AA involvement in treatment for alcohol use disorders, identifying factors that affect dissemination of a treatment innovation, developing and piloting a brief intervention to promote oral health in the context of treatment for alcohol use disorder, and testing the impact of tailoring treatment for alcohol use disorder on the basis of pretreatment drinking. He is a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers and has instructed and supervised trainees and experienced clinicians in motivational interviewing, cognitive-behavioral therapy, twelve-step facilitation treatment, and other empirically-supported approaches. He also has extensive experience in monitoring and objectively evaluating clinician adherence.

Timothy Janikowski
PhD, Department of Counseling, School, and Educational Psychology, University at Buffalo

Dr. Timothy P. Janikowski is an Associate Professor in the Department of Counseling, School, and Educational Psychology at the University at Buffalo-SUNY. He is a member of the Mental Health Counseling and Rehabilitation Counseling masters degree programs and director of the Counselor Education doctoral program. Dr. Janikowski has a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Psychology and has been a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor since 1984. He is a former President of the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association and has been a vocational expert for the Social Security Administration since 1992. Dr. Janikowski has published over 30 journal articles on rehabilitation counseling and related topics and co-authored the textbook: The Rehabilitation Model of Substance Abuse Counseling. His research interests include counseling effectiveness and the treatment of substance abuse in people with co-existing disabilities.

Diane Elze
PhD, School of Social Work, University at Buffalo

Dr. Diane Elze is an Associate Professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. She has a Master’s of Science in Social Administration, a PhD in Social Work. Her professional and research interests focus on risk and protective aspects for sexual minority youth, LGBT health care, HIV prevention with adolescents and adolescent health and mental health. She has published articles, book chapters and presented lectures and keynotes on these topics. Dr. Elze currently serves on the Board of Directors for Gay and Lesbian Youth Services of Western New York and the Erie County Restorative Justice Coalition.

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