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Bryan JL, Kauth MR, Asghar-Ali AA. Transforming Veterans Health Administration Mental Health Clinician Education and Practices: 20 Years of Educational Initiatives by a Center of Excellence. The Journal of Continuing Education in The Health Professions. 2019 Jan 1; 39(2):119-123.
Twenty years ago, the US Congress articulated a need to decrease the time it takes clinical best practices to move from the literature to daily clinical practice. The Veterans Affairs South Central Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center was one of several centers of excellence established to address this need. It is also unique in that it focuses on rural and underserved veterans. This article summarizes the education accomplishments of the South Central Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center thus far in providing educational resources and trainings to frontline Veterans Affairs mental health staff with the goal of bringing best practices to routine clinical care, thus improving mental health services. We describe the use of implementation science to support dissemination of information, such as the monthly mental health grand rounds, especially for rural staff to receive continuing education, and the adoption of evidence-based psychotherapy trainings. The Clinical Educator Grants program allows clinicians to share their clinical expertise through development of practical tools for practice gaps they identify. We describe some future directions to meet the evolving needs of Veterans Affairs and community clinicians to provide the best possible care to Veterans. Take-away messages are that, for trainings to be successful, an implementation plan is critical and that an effective educational program requires funding and leadership commitment.