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Behavioral Science/Family Systems Educator Mentors

Julie Schirmer

Julie Schirmer, LCSW—Director, BFEF Fellowship

Ms Schirmer is the director of the behavioral science curriculum in the Department of Family Medicine of Maine Medical Center (MMC) and assistant director of the family medicine clerkship for the Tufts/MMC School of Medicine. Once thinking that she would die of boredom if in a position for 7 years or more, she has been constantly challenged and inspired in her more than 20 years as a teacher, clinician, researcher, and a behavioral health consultant in family medicine. With Bill Gunn, she is co-chair of a Northeast Regional Integrated Behavioral Health Care Learning Community. She is an author and co-editor, along with Alain Montegut, MD, of Behavioral Health in Primary Care: A Global Perspective, based on their family medicine and behavioral health development work primarily in Vietnam. Ms Schirmer's favorite thing to do is to hang out with her husband and their two twenty-something-year-old daughters who are carving their own paths, despite her efforts to carve them herself.

Kathryn Fraser, PhD—Director, Mentorship Development

Dr Fraser is the psychologist/behavioral medicine coordinator in the Halifax Health Family Medicine Residency in Daytona Beach, FL since 1994. Her special interests include cross-cultural health, anxiety disorders, physician wellness, and the doctor-patient relationship. She especially enjoys one on one teaching/consultation with residents, curriculum development, and doing seminars with professional and community groups. She recently published and continues to work on articles about counseling skills of family physicians with her colleagues in the Florida Behavioral Medicine Consortium. Away from work she enjoys spending time with family, including her husband, son, and daughter; yoga, aerobic exercise, and taking walks and exploring Florida’s parks with their beloved dog (and whichever human family members want to come along). She had the incredibly rewarding experience of being a Small Group Mentor in Year 3 of the fellowship and feels privileged to serve in her current position as Meta Mentor.

Jennifer Ayres, PhD 

Jennifer is the Director of Behavioral Health Services at the UT Austin Dell Medical School Family Medicine Residency Program. She is a clinical psychologist who completed a postdoctoral fellowship in child abuse and trauma. Prior to relocating to Austin in 2007 to begin her position, she worked in community mental health centers in Los Angeles as a bilingual, child trauma psychologist. Her interests include trauma in primary care, multiculturalism, resident self-reflection and support groups, palliative care, and mentoring psychology graduate students who wish to pursue health psychology. She was a member of the inaugural class of the Behavioral Science/Family Systems Educator Fellowship. When she is not working, she is usually found chasing her 4-year-old twin boys and taking them on exciting adventures in Austin.

John Freedy, MD, PhD

John is an associate professor of family medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). He is both a licensed clinical psychologist and a board certified family physician. His professional duties include serving as director of Behavioral Science Curriculum for the Trident/MUSC Family Medicine Residency. He also serves as associate dean for Student Affairs for the College of Medicine. He works with learners at all stages of professional development, novice to expert. He is editor for the Medline referenced International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine. Academic interests include: violence and traumatic stress, PTSD, mental health and chronic illness, behavioral science curriculum development, and Balint. John and Melba (wife) married 29 years ago. The Freedy household includes: John, Melba, Madison (15 y/o daughter), Matthew (11 y/o son), and Nellie (6 y/o cocker spaniel). John enjoys family time, exercise, Charleston restaurants, camping, travel, reading, and college football. (Go Buckeyes!)

William Gunn, PhD

Bill is currently a faculty member at the NH/Dartmouth FMR in Concord, NH and has been a director of Behavioral Science in family medicine residency programs in Colorado and at Duke University. He holds a clinical appointment at Dartmouth Medical School and is on faculty for the Leadership/Preventive Medicine Residency Program. Bill was the principal investigator on a study of the prevalence of psychological distress in a primary care; co-author of Models of Collaboration, a book designed for mental health professionals working in medical settings; and co-author of The Collaborative Psychotherapist. His special areas of interest include promoting integrated care, organizational psychology, and faculty development. He was on the steering committee for the BFEF from its inception and was a small group mentor in 2012.

Cynthia King, MD

Cynthia is an attending faculty physician at the New Hampshire Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency in Concord, NH. She graduated from University of Massachusetts Medical School in 2002 and completed her residency in family medicine at the University of Rochester in 2005. She is especially passionate about resident teaching, resident mental health, global health and inpatient medicine. For the last 7 years she has co-facilitated a resident Balint Group with Dr Bill Gunn. She lives with her husband, two children and two dogs in Concord, NH, where she enjoys spending time hiking, skiing, and supporting Concord’s only independent movie theatre.

Mike Olson, PhD

Mike is an associate professor and director of behavioral medicine in the family medicine residency at UTMB. He earned his MS and PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy from BYU and KSU respectively followed by a fellowship in behavioral medicine in 2000-2001 at UTMB. He has worked as a member of the faculty at UNMC in Omaha, NE and served as co-director of behavioral medicine while there. His passion is in integration and team-based care, particularly in bringing mental/behavioral health into the front line of the PCMH. He and Catalina Triana, MD, co-teach much of the residency program’s behavioral curriculum, emphasizing integrated team-based learning and motivational interviewing into their work. He has been married for 20 years and has five children spanning from kindergarten to junior in high school. What brings joy to his life is his faith, sports, teaching, writing, composing and playing music, and his family.

Bethany Picker, MD

Being from a small rural town herself, Bethany decided to come east to Maine and practice full scope family medicine in a rural area. After starting out with a few students, she was bitten by the teaching bug and wanted to make teaching a bigger part of her life. Believing that “If you want to feed someone for a day, catch a fish, if you want to feed someone forever, teach them how to fish,” she joined the faculty at Central Maine Medical Center FMR where she is now the medical director. Her professional interests include patient safety, developing lasting physician-patient relationships, ensuring high quality care, and influencing national healthcare polices especially for vulnerable communities. She loves women’s health, including maternity care and caring for young families. Now, being here with her husband and children, she loves where they live and what she is doing.

Valerie Ross, MS

Valerie is a family therapist and has been director of behavioral science for the University of Washington Family Medicine Residency since 2003. Her interests include: relationship centered care, narrative medicine, direct observation, complexity in primary care, and mind-body medicine. Her professional writing focuses on narrative ideas, direct observation, and complexity care plans. She is exploring the application of theater improvisation in residency (medical improv). She enjoys spending time with family and her wonderful dog Leila, playing cello, yoga, meditation, and hiking in the beautiful Northwest. Being an SGM in Year 1 was a career highlight. She is thankful for all the mentorship she has received within her program and from members of STFM, and is excited to be an SGM once again. 

Dael Waxman, MD

Dael is the interim chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, NC. Additionally, he serves as medical director of behavioral medicine. After family medicine residency and a faculty development fellowship at the University of Arizona, he completed a second fellowship in family systems medicine at the University of Rochester. 

In addition, he has received training in and has been integrating family therapy, clinical hypnosis, and other modalities of mind/body medicine into teaching and practice for over 20 years.  An Associate Professor of Family Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill, he has taught regionally, nationally, and internationally on: family influences on health, physician-patient communication, collaboration between mental health and primary care, physician wellness, and mind/body medicine. Dael and his wife Brenda have an 18 year old daughter, Meara.  They all enjoy the outdoors and travel.

Copyright 2016 by Society of Teachers of Family Medicine