Late Breaking News
TRICARE Offering Online PTSD/TBI Education for Civilian Physicians
- Categorized in: March 2009 Issue
WASHINGTON—TRICARE Management Activity is offering post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury education training to civilian providers in a new online pilot program. The pilot is designed to provide online training to civilian primary care and mental health providers who care for servicemembers and veterans with PTSD and TBI.
“We are very excited about getting the word out about this capability,” said Mike Veasey, Defense Health Services Systems principal deputy program manager.
Servicemembers returning from war with PTSD and/or TBI has been a growing concern in the military. Many of these service-members may live in rural areas where they receive care through TRICARE’s civilian network. It is important that these physicians have the training they need to care for these patients, Veasey said.
“This particular pilot is aimed at civilian doctors and the fact of the matter is that America gets some of its ﬁghting folks from pretty remote parts of the country,” Veasey said. “These kids come back and they go home and they don’t have ready availability of a DoD facility. A VA hospital is not right down the street, so they go to their local doctor. That’s the purpose of this course to train those local doctors who are going to take care of these young men and women.”
Through the pilot program a range of different courses are offered that cover topics such as concussion management, living with TBI and the physical health effects of traumatic exposure. The program includes lessons on TBI and courses within the PTSD 101 Curricula.
The pilot program began in late January and will run for six months. Through the program any civilian network provider can register for free and take courses online at their convenience anytime during the six month time period. Both the VA and DoD chose the material taught in the online courses.
“This is a six month pilot and we are going to assess how it goes at the end of six months. If there is reason to expand it, I am sure the enterprise will consider it, but this is a ﬁrst time effort for us,” Veasey said.
Caring for TBI and PTSD Patients
While military providers caring for servicemembers already have access to the information offered through the pilot, it was important that civilian providers who care for these patients have this material as well, Veasey said.
“These returning soldiers saw extreme violence day after day after day and sometimes they were the ones that caused the violence. It is a unique situation. I don’t think that civilian doctors see anybody in this category other than soldiers,” Veasey said.
All of the courses have a military slant designed to help train civilian providers to deal with PTSD and TBI issues that are unique to servicemembers and veterans. For example, a course called ‘PTSD and Families’ covers not only how to help the soldier or veteran, but how to help the family cope with the patient’s condition as well.
“We send these soldiers into harm’s way and they are trained to be self-sufﬁcient and self-contained,” Veasey said. “Then they get injured and they come back to the States and they sometimes don’t want to be forthright about how they feel mentally or physically. They are self-contained, ‘I am a rock, I am an island’ mentality. By virtue of the fact that this is unique to the military, doctors don’t appreciate that they have this wall between them and the patient. They need to appreciate where the soldier is coming from, what his experiences were. He has seen a lot of destruction and a lot of violence and it takes some degree of understanding to get the soldier to open up and talk about his experiences and how he got injured.”
Information on the pilot program can be accessed at www.health.mil/civilianprovidereducation
First the user must create an account and password. “Then,” said Veasey, “because it is online, they can take courses anytime, anywhere. They get continuing education credits and their record of logging in and taking courses and successfully completing courses is maintained in MHS Learn.”
“When a provider registers they will be assigned all of the training courses and then they can choose whichever ones they actually want to take. The courses will always be there available to them the next time they log in, so they don’t have to search for them,” Veasey explained.
Veasey said that the pilot program cost about $34,000. As of Feb. 10, 241 providers had registered.