Addressing the workforce crisis in integrated primary care

J Clin Psychol Med Settings. 2009 Mar;16(1):113-9. doi: 10.1007/s10880-008-9142-7. Epub 2009 Jan 16.


Training and education in integrated primary care is limited. We see a need for addressing the looming workforce shortage as behavioral health services in primary care become more widely implemented. Bringing mental health clinicians straight from specialty mental health settings into primary care often results in program failure due to poor skills fit, assumptions about services needed, and routines of practice these clinicians bring from their specialty settings. Health psychology graduate programs tend to prepare graduates for specialty research and practice in medical settings rather than preparing them for the pace, culture and broad spectrum of needs in primary care. Family medicine residency programs provide an underutilized resource for training primary care psychologists and family physicians together. Even if comprehensive graduate training programs in integrated primary care were developed, they could not begin to meet the need for behavioral health clinicians in primary care that the present expansion will require. In response to the demand for mental health providers in primary care, new initiatives have emerged which attempt to provide training for the preexisting mental health workforce to enable their successful integration into primary care settings.

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Medicine
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated
  • Education / organization & administration
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Organizational Culture
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Workforce