New residency program boosts profile of clinical psychology at KHSC

In this year of milestones, Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) has added one more with the launch of a new residency program in adult clinical psychology, an opportunity to train the next generation of professional psychologists while boosting patient access to care.

Clinical psychologists currently work in KHSC patient care programs such adult eating disorders, chronic pain and bariatrics.  However, only now is formalized training available, says clinical psychologist Dr. Brad Mac Neil, training director for the new program.

“Psychology residency programs typically exist within a health sciences centre,” he says.  “Our new status as KHSC positions us to establish our own program, so this is definitely an integration win.”

That win translates into 12 months of supervised training for inaugural resident Diane Bell, who will be focused on developing competencies in psychological and diagnostic assessment, case consultation and evidence-based treatment.  Supporting that work will be exposure to the clinical work of licensed psychologists and other multidisciplinary team members such as social workers, nurses, psychiatrists, dietitians and occupational therapists.

For Bell, the residency’s major rotation in the adult anxiety disorders clinic at the Hotel Dieu Hospital site is a good fit.  She has a strong clinical interest in trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, including the trauma accompanying sexual abuse and assault.  And her approach to clinical practice dovetails with KHSC’s commitment to patient and family-centred care.

“I think it’s important to be taught by my patients and clients, who have found the courage to come forward and talk with me,” she says. “It’s a process where we’re all open learners.”

As it prepares its trainees to become skilled independent scientist-practitioners, the psychology residency program will also help to boost access to patient care, says Brad.

“Having a resident on staff means we have the resources to offer more services such as group therapy programs, which we can run more often, and that reduces wait lists,” says Mac Neil.  “The eventual goal is to have two residency positions so our services can expand even more down the line.” 

As well, he says, the program serves our health sciences centre as an excellent recruitment tool.

“Most residency programs tend to retain high-quality talent, which then raises the profile of clinical psychology within the organization and beyond in terms of clinical care, learning and research,” he says.  “Implementing this program is a very exciting step forward for KHSC.”

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