In her job as a clinical psychologist at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Dr. Angelic Chaison works closely with primary care providers to make sure mental health is part of the whole healthcare plan designed for Veteran patients.

Dr. Chaison serves as part of the Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT), an innovative care model adopted by VA. In PACT teams, mental health and primary care providers work in tandem with nurse practitioners, medical support assistants and administrative support staff to coordinate care for Veterans across specialties, through inpatient hospital stays or visits to the emergency room.

“The way the PACT team works is that you have the patient or the Veteran at the center and then you (involve) the primary care provider who is working to help manage that Veteran’s care,” Dr. Chaison explained in a video. “The primary care doctor sees the different needs that the Veteran has and then consults with different specialties.”

Choose VA for mental health innovation and collaboration

VA mental health career professionals like Dr. Chaison have helped make VA a national leader in the study and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), led by the VA National Center for PTSD.

Through the broader VA Mental Health services program, providers can also participate in research; see patients via an innovative telehealth program; and apply evidence- and measurement-based care to improve outcomes for Veterans diagnosed with PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, anxiety, depression or other issues.

Delivering the best possible care for Veterans with mental health conditions means hiring the best career professionals with skills in psychiatry, psychology, psychiatric nursing, peer counseling and other areas. Last year, VA hired 87 psychiatrists and 212 psychologists to meet these needs, recent data showed.

Mental health professionals at VA can leverage resources available throughout the VA system, including primary care providers and other specialists. Dr. Chaison, for instance, works closely with VA primary care physician Dr. Sarah Candler to support patients. Their relationship has grown over the years.

“Dr. Chaison is one of my favorite people to work with,” Dr. Candler said in a video. “And Angelique is always positive … every time I see her, she has a smile on her face. Every single day. So sometimes I like calling her for my own patients, but also just so that we get to spend some time together because being around her makes me feel happier.”

Choose VA to practice whole-Veteran care

Dr. Chaison and other mental health providers at VA work in PACT teams to consider a Veteran’s health, wellness and life goals and assemble the needed resources into a healthcare plan. This helps build trust between patient and provider and informs which aspects of care to focus on.

“I love working on the PACT team,” Dr. Chaison said. “It helps the person feel like they’re part of a team.”

This care model differs from a more traditional disease-focused approach to healthcare, which picks apart health conditions and creates a treatment program for each needs.

The PACT way improves coordination. “I can easily connect with other specialties that could help manage that Veteran’s care in their best interest,” Dr. Chaison said.

Choose VA today

Dr. Chaison chose VA to practice innovative, patient-centered mental healthcare.

See if a VA career in mental health is the right choice for you too.

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Published on Dec. 28, 2018

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