Psy.D. and MSW programs get big federal grant

Steve Jones

Spalding University has received a federal grant of nearly $1.15 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support advanced-level psychology and social work students who perform behavioral health work in primary care settings in medically underserved areas of Louisville.

The grant, which comes via the federal Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training program (BHWET), will provide stipends to doctoral candidates in clinical psychology (Psy.D.) and students pursuing a master’s degree in social work (MSW) who are part of Spalding’s Interdisciplinary Behavioral Health Scholars Program (IBHSP). The stipends will assist in recruitment and retention of future behavioral health professionals who do their training work in vulnerable and medically underserved areas.

Spalding, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville were the only institutions in Kentucky to receive BHWET grants.

Spalding’s psychology and social work scholars are partnering with three Louisville health and wellness organizations to provide services. They are the Family Community Clinic, which provides medical assistance to individuals without health insurance, including many who don’t speak English, at its facility in the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Butchertown; Shawnee Christian Healthcare Center, which provides affordable primary health and dental care to patients in West Louisville; and Smoketown Family Wellness Center, which offers wellness programs in a neighborhood in which residents’ average life expectancy is 10 years below other Louisville areas, according to the center’s website.

“I am very familiar with the health care academic programs at Spalding University and find it very rewarding to know that individuals who rely on health care services will receive the quality care and attention that a partnership with Spalding will bring,” said George Fischer, founder of the Family Community Clinic. “I’m grateful to Spalding and its faculty and students for providing help to members of our community who need it.”

The grant money for Spalding students will be dispersed over four years with the funding increasing after the first year. There will be six student recipients in the first year and 10 in Years 2-4.  The psychology students will receive $28,352 each, and the social work students will receive $10,000.

“We are thrilled to have received this federal grant,” said Dr. Steve Katsikas, faculty chair of Spalding’s School of Professional Psychology and the IBHSP program director.  “Between 60 and 70 percent of all health-related problems have a behavioral component, such as smoking, living a sedentary lifestyle or eating an imbalanced diet.  The grant will allow us to partner with primary care sites in underserved parts of Louisville to provide integrated behavioral health services. Individuals who see a health care provider and need a referral will be able to immediately see a behavioral health specialist. Spalding’s schools of social work and psychology are excited about this program because it allows us to train the next generation of psychologists and social workers to make a lasting health impact in our community.”

The grant will also be used to hire a clinical coordinator and fund seminars.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under M01HP31342 and the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program for $1,149,483. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.