Dell Medical School and the University of Texas Steve Hicks School of Social Work received a $1.2 million gift from John David and Leslie Moritz to provide scholarships for social work students, fund two more social workers at the medical school, and help fund the Department of Health at the medical school. in Social Work, which is a joint program between the schools of medicine and social work.
$500,000 in scholarships will be matched, making the total impact $1.7 million. Morris owns a group of car dealerships in Fort Worth.
Dell Medical School is unusual in that it has a department of social work within the school, said department chair Barbara Jones. She divides her time between the schools of medicine and social work.
The department grew out of an interprofessional class for 250 students from UT’s social, medical, nursing and pharmacy schools. In that class, students are divided into groups, each representing a school. Team members must work together to help resolve the patient’s situation and no hierarchy is allowed.
“They learn how to do health care with other professionals,” Jones said.
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Social workers learn to find their own voice and expertise in health care among their medical colleagues, she said. For future doctors, “My hope is that all of our medical students, the physician leaders of the future, will emphasize interprofessional relationships,” Jones said.
The class was so successful that a shared health social work department was created between the medical and social work schools.
The gift will further cement that department with $100,000 in funding.
“It strengthens the relationship between the two schools,” he said.
The department is doing a lot of research on how integrated behavioral health affects different health outcomes and what models work best.
Dell Medical School will be able to add two social workers to its clinic with a $600,000 gift. It already has social workers in clinics attached to medical schools It has not been decided which clinic will get the two new ones, Jones said.
Mikaela Frisell works as a social worker at the Musculoskeletal Institute at UT Health Austin. UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of the medical school.
He works with patients who are experiencing chronic pain on how to reduce that pain through psychotherapy. She helps patients overcome barriers to healthcare such as transportation or housing by connecting them to resources.
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Often someone on the team will refer a patient to him and then the team will have a conference with him on how to best serve the patient. He will work closely with the patient to improve access to health care and overall health.
Being part of the clinic means patients aren’t as likely to fall through the cracks because they’re getting their emotional needs met in the same place as their medical needs, Frisell said.
Sometimes her role may be simply to translate the doctor’s information and help develop an action plan for the patient’s care. Other times it provides mental health care or connects patients to resources.
His presence has influenced how care providers talk to patients and think about their needs, he said.
“They’re learning about new ways to work with patients,” she said. “They learn to think more holistically about patients.”
Due to the number of patients at that clinic, not every patient can see a social worker, but social workers are present if a patient is identified as needing them based on a survey prior to the patient’s first visit or based on information. Gathered at the time of appointment.
This gift, as well as having a shared department for schools, Jones said, “elevates the social work profession.”
“To donate so much money to a school of social work is unique,” she said.