Behavioral Science

The Behavioral Science curriculum is based on the biopsychosocial-spiritual model (Engel, 1977; 1980 Wright, Watson, & Bell, 1996). Residency education in the Behavioral Sciences train residents to approach each patient as a complex but integrated system of many variables that can be organized under five domains: biological, behavioral, cognitive, sociocultural, and environmental. The curriculum is evidenced-based and designed so that every resident achieves the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) milestones. Using the Curriculum Guidelines for Family Medicine Residents by the American Academy of Family Physicians (2011, p.2) to guide curriculum development, the interdisciplinary Behavioral Science faculty assist each resident to achieve the following competencies at the completion of their residency training:  

  • Understand normal and abnormal psychosocial growth and development across the lifecycle and be able to appy this knowledge to the care of the individual patient. (Medical Knowledge, Patient Care)
  • Be able to recognize, initiate treatment for, and utilize appropriate referrals for mental health disorders to optimize patient care. (Systems-based Practice, Practice-based Learning and Improvement) 
  • Demonstrate the ability to effectively interview and evaluate patients for mental health disorders using appropriate techniques and skills to enhance the doctor-patient relationship. (Interpersonal and Communication Skills, Patient Care) 
  • Have sensitivity to and knowledge of the emotional aspects of organic illness. (Patient Care, Professionalism) 
  • Be able to intervene effectively and professionally in emergent psychiatric, domestic violence, child abuse, and disaster situations. (Professionalism, Systems-based Practice) 
  • Understand the impact of mental health disorders on the family unit.


During orientation, first year residents are videotaped and communication skills reviewed to prepare them for out-patient clinical care. Second year residents are also videotaped during their orientation and on-call communication skills are reviewed.