Faculty Spotlight - February 2017

Bradford Felker, MD

Bradford Felker completed a combined Psychiatry-Internal Medicine residency at the University of Virginia leading to board certification in both fields. Once on faculty at the University of Virginia, Dr. Felker developed one of the first programs that integrated primary care services in specialty mental health clinics at the Veterans Affairs (VA).

Based on his work in integrated care, the UW Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences recruited him as a faculty member. He continued his integrated care work with the VA Puget ​Sound Health by leading the development and implementation of the Primary Care Mental Health Integration Service program.
The Primary Care Mental Health Integration Service program at the VA Puget Sound has grown to include the two medical centers and seven community-based outpatient clinics and was recognized by the national Department of Veterans Affairs as one of the top ten programs in the country. Currently, Dr. Felker is working with the national VA Center of Excellence for Primary Care Education to help develop integrated care mental health curriculum.
Dr. Felker’s research has focused on developing models of care management, implementation of integrated care programs, and the assessment and treatment of PTSD in primary care. He has recently started researching the implementation of telemental health services within primary care. 
In addition, he helped develop, implement, and now leads the Promoting Access to Telemental Health (PATH) Service at VA Puget Sound. This team uses an innovative approach to integrate the emerging tele-technologies and functions on three platforms: clinical, outcomes/research, and education. Besides the telemental health rotation for the Integrated Care Fellowship, the PATH Service offers psychiatry resident rotations as well as a Telemental Health Psychology Fellowship.
  • What do you find most satisfying about working in Integrated Care or on the ICTP Project?

    This is such an exciting project and I am thrilled to be included in it. I honestly believe the Integrated Care Fellowship is highly innovative and is critically needed in the field. As far as I know, no other sites are taking such an advanced sophisticated approach to developing and implementing such a curriculum.

  • What are your ideas about new programs and/or new directions the ICTP project should develop?

    As we all know, there is a chronic shortage of psychiatrists. We need to find ways to amplify psychiatric services to meet the need. The Integrated Care Fellowship is an important step toward creating a true interprofessional care team that could promote such an amplification of psychiatric services. Specifically, I am excited about how we can incorporate the emerging tele-technologies to expand the delivery of such services. For example, the integrated care psychiatrist of the future will likely work in an interprofessional team using a combination of in-person appointments, clinical video conferencing, web-based applications, phone apps, and data-base management to create highly flexible interprofessional treatment plans.

  • What led you to where you are today professionally?

    My interest in neuroscience dates back to my undergraduate days. Based on this interest, I took extra mental health rotations in medical school but ultimately decided to pursue Family Practice (FP). Once I started in my outpatient FP clinic and based on my mental health rotations, I recognized the high prevalence of mental disorders in primary care and the lack of treatment options. So, I switched from FP and completed a combined Psychiatry-Internal Medicine residency with the University of Virginia. After residency, I implemented a primary medical care team within the Mental Health Clinic in a VA affiliated with the UVa. Based on this work, I was recruited by the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and VA Puget Sound. Upon arriving, I had the privilege to work with many outstanding providers and researchers to develop the Primary Care Mental Health Integration Service at VA Puget Sound. This work led to many rewarding professional projects across national VA in the area of integrated care and Implementation Science. Finally, it occurred to me that rural primary care clinics were not receiving adequate mental health services leading to my current interest in telehealth. I have worked with a great team to build the PATH Service at VA Puget Sound, a service that prioritizes clinical care, education, and Health Services research.

  • What is the best praise or advice you’ve received?

    Over the years, I have learned so much from so many wonderful mentors. I suppose an amalgam of this advice can be summarized in a couple of points:

    • Always respect the unique human being sitting in front of you.
    • It is important to truly understand the difference between management and leadership. In addition, it is important to know when one needs to be more of a leader vs. manager when developing teams and programs.
  • Tell us about your favorite vacation. What makes it your favorite?

    My favorite vacations are those when my entire family can join us. My wife and I have enjoyed taking our three kids to explore many of the great cities of the world. As our kids are pretty much grown, these days my wife and I enjoy boating and exploring the tremendous beauty of the NW. More specifically, we like to take our boat, All That Jazz, out and disappear in the San Juan Islands.

  • What book are you reading and what do you like about it?

    I enjoy reading fiction and first person travel journals and often flip between the two. I just completed another book by Haruki Murakami. I enjoy his protagonist’s views and dreamy plots. Currently I am reading Caroline Leighton’s Life at Puget Sound with Sketches of Travel; 1865-1881.This amazing woman describes her travels as a young, single woman who sails from the East Coast, is ship-wrecked, and arrives in the Puget Sound. She then describes the Puget Sound area, her interactions with Native American Tribes, other settlers, and the undeveloped beauty of the NW during this interesting time in history.

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