Tampi, Moca direct Valley psychiatry residency and fellowship

Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Residents to train in adult psychiatry and fellows in child and adolescent psychiatry

HARLINGEN (Nov. 11, 2013) — Two nationally known psychiatrists, Rajesh Tampi, M.D., and Marian Moca, M.D., started work this fall as founding directors of psychiatry graduate medical education at the Lower Rio Grande Valley Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC). The RAHC is part of the comprehensive University of Texas institution being established in the Valley and is currently under the auspices of the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Dr. Tampi, who started at the RAHC in November, is director of the general adult psychiatry residency program. He came from the Yale University School of Medicine, where he was associate clinical professor of psychiatry. He was director of Masonic Care Behavioral Health, a geriatric care facility affiliated with the Yale medical school. He completed his adult psychiatry residency training at the University of Vermont and a geriatric psychiatry fellowship at Yale.

Dr. Moca assumed duties Sept. 16 as director of the child and adolescent fellowship program. Currently he is the only fellowship-trained, board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist in Cameron County. Prior to this appointment he was the director of Hartford Behavioral Health, a mental health clinic affiliated with the University of Connecticut (UConn) School of Medicine, and created and directed the UConn Health Center’s Public School Consultation Service. Dr. Moca was an assistant professor of psychiatry at UConn and served as core faculty within the UConn child psychiatry fellowship. In addition, he was a clinical instructor of child psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center and engaged in educational activities with other child psychiatry training programs in Connecticut.

“Psychiatry is one of the areas of significant need in the Valley, particularly in Brownsville and Harlingen,” said Francisco González-Scarano, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. “Establishing this residency and fellowship will begin to address this shortage, because physicians tend to develop relationships in the geographical areas where they train and many stay to practice in those areas once they are finished with their training.”

The adult psychiatry residency program will be four years in duration and will build toward five residents per postgraduate year while serving the entire Rio Grande Valley. The child and adolescent fellowship will be two years long with two fellows accepted per year. “The Valley has a great need for both programs,” said M. Philip Luber, M.D., associate dean for graduate medical education and interim chairman of psychiatry in the School of Medicine.

“Dr. Tampi and Dr. Moca are excited about working in the Valley and building an academic department of psychiatry at the RAHC,” Dr. Luber said. “They are committed to serving the Valley’s people, providing clinical training to others who will do the same, and working in an academic medical center to find the best evidence-based practices for the region.”

Their initial focus will be to prepare the RAHC adult psychiatry residency and child and adolescent fellowship for accreditation by the Residency Review Committee of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, said Leonel Vela, M.D., M.P.H., regional dean of the RAHC. The program will not start recruiting residents until accreditation is achieved, he said.

The adult psychiatry residency program sites are the Valley Baptist Health System, Rio Grande State Center and the VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System. Valley Baptist Health System provided $400,000 for program development during state fiscal year 2013 and is also one of the child and adolescent fellowship sites along with Rio Grande State Center.

“The Valley Baptist Inpatient Behavioral Health Facility will be a great resource for the psychiatry residents,” said Valley Baptist Medical Center-Brownsville CEO Leslie Bingham. “Likewise, our communities will benefit from the training of more much-needed mental health practitioners.”

Since its opening in 2002, the RAHC has been the site of a three-year internal medicine residency program. The psychiatry residency program initiative includes collaboration between all of the UT entities in the region, including the UT Houston School of Public Health Regional Campus in Brownsville.

Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy counties continue to be mental health HPSAs (Health Professional Shortage Areas), according to an updated designation list published this summer by the U.S. Bureau of Health Professions. There is more demand in those counties than the available mental health professionals can address.

Only 37 psychiatrists practiced in the four counties during 2011, serving a population in excess of 1.3 million people, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Before Dr. Moca’s arrival, no fellowship-trained child and adolescent psychiatrist practiced in Cameron County, home to 425,000.

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