Botetourt County Schools have entered into an agreement with the Virginia Tech Carilion Medical School to have a psychiatric fellow on board. The first fellow is Dr. Wei Guan who is a medical doctor on a 6 month assignment with BCPS. She comes every Tuesday to meet with Special Education Supervisor Julie Baker and her school psychology and special education staff.
It is a five year agreement with two fellows per year. “Each fellow will bring something to the table,” said Baker.
“Dr. Mark Kilgus is the adviser from the school of medicine and was instrumental in setting the program up with the School administration,” said Baker. “He contacted us to discuss the program which is a win-win for both. Our community gets expertise and the fellows gain valuable hands on experience as advisers in areas like special education law and school environments. “There is a difference in a medical model and an education model that should be invaluable to the fellow,” said Baker.
The fellows are licensed medical doctors, but this component will add to the diagnosis and treatment of a student. The Psychiatrist would have practical knowledge of how a school division operates instead of theoretically hoping a treatment will work within special education. “We hope by working locally the fellow may decide to stay in the Roanoke Valley to set up a practice.” There is a a shortage of child and adolescent practitioners according to Baker.
Guan meets with Baker weekly. While she is not a diagnotistic part of the team, she can offer suggestions and input while she works on her area of interest. She has a very detailed schedule in the medical school that includes not only her trips to Botetourt, but also rounds and research in her area of interest. Guan is interested in students with Autism.
Basically the fellows program and subsequent recommendations may improve not only the medical side of care, but help students and their families access care that will help them maximize their education experience.