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Kim Gratz, PhD, coordinator, Personality Disorders Case conference series

“There is always something new to learn—that’s what these conferences are all about. This kind of team approach benefits the clinicians just as much as it benefits the patients.
“These discussions improve our understanding and help us become better clinicians.”
—KARSTEN KUEPPENBENDER, MD, a third-year resident in the Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital Adult Psychiatry Residency Training Program

Team work makes better medicine

Sitting around a large mahogany table in a conference room at McLean, 15 clinicians listen intently, occasionally jotting down notes. One of their colleagues is describing a recent clinical session with a patient. The case is particularly difficult, he explains, because although the patient seems to be progressing, he fears she would not turn to him if she were in trouble.

Throughout his presentation, clinicians, including Jay Bonnar, MD, Elsa Ronningstam, PhD, and George Smith, MSW, offer their thoughts and suggestions.

This may seem like a typical case conference, but what makes it unique are its participants. The weekly gathering, coordinated by Kim Gratz, PhD, presents an opportunity for clinicians in McLean’s Outpatient Program to continue to develop, learn and receive consultation, as well as to train psychiatry residents. Most of those initially participating in the conferences represented psychodynamic perspectives. Recently however, clinicians representing other treatment perspectives have been attending, as have psychology interns and trainees.

The conferences, says Edmund Neuhaus, PhD, one of the participants, directly translate into improved care for patients.

“They represent honest, open discussions of what works and what doesn’t work, drawing upon insight from a diverse group of clinicians. It gives all of us an opportunity to collaborate on creative treatment solutions.”

McLean cofounded and jointly operates the Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital Adult and Child Psychiatry Residency Training Programs, two of the country’s leading training programs. Education is critical to McLean’s mission. To carry out that mandate, the hospital offers a robust continuing education program, featuring numerous national conferences for mental health professionals.