New IOP Clinic specializes in patients with co-occurring disorders

Medical Receptionist Emily Guthrie and Operations Lead Cindy Sands gather information at the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) Clinic.

On July 9, 2018, the Department of Psychiatry opened a new Behavioral Health Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) clinic.

The IOP clinic helps support the needs of individuals with co-occurring mental and addiction disorders who require more support than weekly or monthly outpatient services provide but do not require detoxification or other inpatient treatment. Dr. John Franzen, psychiatrist and medical director of the IOP, says the program is off to a good start.

“We have an amazing staff, and we’re getting a lot of support within the unit,” Dr. Franzen said. “It’s exciting because we know that these services are needed and not available in many places, especially when you look at the high level of care we can offer.”

Dr. John Franzen
IOP Director

The IOP has started with patients meeting three hours in the afternoon four times a week.

“People are showing up, which is great,” said Erin Bagwell, a licensed mental health provider with the IOP. “You never know how things will go when you start a new program, but people are engaged and communicating with one another.”

On Aug. 6, the IOP added an evening group, which provides adults who work during the day openings to receive treatment for addiction and mental disorders.

Treatment entails a combination of individual and group therapy and may also include medication-assisted treatment provided by a multidisciplinary team of providers including a board-certified addiction psychiatrist, licensed therapists, and a registered nurse.

“We hope to be able to find the right time for people to get help, which is why we have the evening session for working groups. Mental illness and addiction can go hand-in-hand for many individuals. We want to be able to capture as many people as possible,” Dr. Franzen said.

The treatment program typically lasts four to six weeks. Outside of the IOP, patients can also see therapists or addictions specialists one-on-one. Dr. Franzen said the IOP additionally tries to get families involved.

To refer a patient or schedule an appointment, call 402-552-6007


Dr. Beck starts second decade as director of ADMSEP

After 23 years, Dr. Gary Beck Dallaghan has left UNMC, but he will still play a role in educating future and current UNMC doctors as the director of the Association of Directors of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry (ADMSEP).

Dr. Gary Beck Dallaghan at the 2018 ADMSEP Annual Meeting

This month, Dr. Beck Dallaghan stepped down from his roles as Assistant Dean for Medical Education, Director of the Office of Medical Education, and Assistant Professor in the UNMC Department of Pediatrics. He has accepted a job as Director of Educational Scholarship at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill.

While Dr. Beck Dallaghan will be missed in Omaha, he will still work with UNMC students and faculty as Director of ADMSEP, a role he has held since 2007. Dr. Beck Dallaghan has made it his life’s work to train current and future health providers, which also happens to be ADMSEP’s mission.

“The group started 45 years ago, and the purpose was to give physicians, who teach psychiatry together, a place to network, participate in faculty development and share resources with each other,” Dr. Beck Dallaghan said.

He added that the group has helped provide medical schools with helpful and critical tools to teach their medical students. Dr. Howard Liu, Interim Chair of the UNMC Department of Psychiatry, and Dr. Martin Klapheke, Psychiatry Professor and Assistant Dean of Medical Education at the University of Central Florida, have developed e-modules that Dr. Beck Dallaghan says “trigger discussions on various clinical cases.”

“There have been so many wonderful professional development projects and task forces,” Dr. Beck Dallaghan said. “We have a task force working with geriatric psychiatry. We are constantly creating resources for child and adolescent psychology and psychiatry. We’re creating resources for group addiction programs. Whatever we can do to help a school’s curriculum we will do.”

In June, Dr. Beck-Dallaghan, along with eight other UNMC faculty members, attended the ADMSEP Annual Meeting in Minneapolis. Much like the organization, the annual meeting has grown during Dr. Beck Dallaghan’s tenure as director.

He said in 2007, around 90 medical professionals signed up for the two-day meeting in Park City, Utah. This year, the three-day conference had close to 200 participants.
“The workshops are fantastic. Sessions have always been very well received. Most people come into it, and we try and make them very interactive sessions. You can get something out of it as opposed to sitting there and listening to someone lecture,” said Dr. Beck Dallaghan.

Next year, the ADMSEP annual meeting will be held in Portland, Maine, and Dr. Liu agreed to be the meeting’s secretary.

UNMC trio helps create 1st-place poster

Dr. Jennifer Inbarasu, Dr. Shinnyi Chou, and Dr. Dana Raml played key roles in the creation of a poster discussing wellness. The poster took home first-place honors at ADMSEP.

Current UNMC psychiatry resident Dana Raml and former UNMC medical students, Dr. Shinnyi “Cindy” Chou, and Dr. Jennifer Inbarasu played a big role in creation of an award-winning poster.

The trio was part of a 13-person team that produced and presented a poster titled, “Medical Student Mental Health Wellness: Assessing Resources and Needs Across Five Medical Schools.” The poster earned first-place trainee poster at the ADMSEP Annual Meeting in Minneapolis.

“I believe that this poster represented an incredibly important shared goal of keeping our medical students healthy and safe,” said Dr. Inbarasu. “We were able to work together with many schools across the country to try and learn from each other what resources are available for their students with the future goal of finding ways to successfully promote the wellness of all medical students in the country.”

The poster looked at existing medical student mental health and wellness resources at five medical schools. Qualitative characteristics were then categorized based on distinguishing features and themes.

Major themes emerged after characterizing distinguishing features of wellness resources. These included professional service, peer support, self-help, peer groups, and Care during Transitions. The researchers concluded that with the demonstrable negative impacts of medical student burnout, implantations of wellness curricula is crucial. While many strategies have been proposed, research showed that optimization requires critical evaluation of existing programs and collaborative communication between institutions.

“I felt proud and honored to be a part of such a wonderful collaborative project,” said Dr. Inbarasu, who attended UNMC and now is a resident at the Mayo Clinical School of Graduate Medical Education.

UNMC educators share tips on engaging students

(Left to Right) Dr. Daniel Gih, Dr. VaKara Meyer Karre, Dr. Linda Love, Dr. Sheritta Strong, Dr. Sharon Hammer, and Dr. Jonathon Sikorski.

Several UNMC psychiatrists and educators shared their tips on how to get a lecture off to a good start.

Dr. Linda Love, Dr. Daniel Gih, Dr. Sheritta Strong, Dr. Sharon Hammer and Dr. VaKara Meyer Karre teamed up to share ways to make the first five minutes matter.

Dr. Love discussed the importance of engaging students in order to bring them back to the classroom. Studies show that less than half of students coming to lectures in pre-clinic years. When the medical students attend the lectures, Dr. Meyer Karre, Dr. Strong, and Dr. Hammer shared real-world examples of how they transformed the first five minutes to keep them coming back.

“We shared ideas on how to turn a boring PowerPoint lecture into an engaging, vivid presentation with a lot of images that will pull the students in.”

Dr. Meyer Karre said that although big changes are needed in the medical student education curriculum, reform really starts with one or two small, meaningful changes and then grows from there.
“I hope our participants walked away with enthusiasm for change, as well as the confidence that they too can transform the way in which they educate and engage their learners,” Dr. Meyer Karre said.

Dr. Hammer said the participants in the workshop were very attentive and supportive.

“ADMSEP is a very supportive group of educators,” Dr. Hammer said. “And everyone there is trying to become better educators. You feel like you’re very supported in your efforts. I thought it was very positive.”

UNMC doctors discuss social media principles and pitfalls

(Left to Right) Dr. Howard Liu, Dr. Linda Love, Dr. Lindsey Smith and Dr. Donald Hilty presented a workshop on Twitter and social media.

UNMC leaders answered questions about Twitter’s place in medical education.

Dr. Howard Liu, Dr. Linda Love, Dr. Lindsey Smith of the UNMC Department of Psychiatry and Dr. Donald Hilty of the University of California-Davis presented, “Tweeting Your Way to the Top: Navigating Social Media Principles & Pitfalls in Medical Education.”

The presentation was set up for everyone, whether you didn’t have an account or tweet every day. Dr. Smith said the group was broken into novice, intermediate, and advanced users.

“There was a lot of variation among the group in the use of social media,” Dr. Smith said. “Some had skepticism about why they should use it. They consider it one more thing to do during their busy day. Others were interested in and wanted to get started.”

The objectives of the workshop were to describe how Twitter differs from other social media platforms; apply social media principles to case scenarios of common online dilemmas for educators; and participants were asked to share one useful resource to build an online community.

After an introduction, participates joined small groups stratified by expertise. The largest group (15-20 people) was Dr. Smith’s novice group.

Smith, who joined Twitter last fall, shared her experiences with the group.

“It’s a great resource to network with other people in the medical field,” she said. “I think social media has a role in medical education. When you tweet or follow others on Twitter, you gain perspective from others in the industry. You speak with a lot of people you wouldn’t know otherwise.”

Movie fans also get memory lesson

UNMC Research Director and Child Psychiatrist Dr. Soonjo Hwang (right) moderated a panel discussion on memory and emotion with UNMC neuroscientists Dr. Vaishali Phatak (center) and Dr. David Warren (left) on June 5 at the Ruth Sokolf Theater.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fans packed Ruth Sokolof Theater for a special showing of the cult classic and then stayed for a discussion on memory.

UNMC Research Director and Child Psychiatrist Dr. Soonjo Hwang moderated a panel discussion on memory and emotion with UNMC neuroscientists Dr. Vaishali Phatak and Dr. David Warren.

The 2004 movie follows Joel (Jim Carrey), who is stunned to discover that his girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) has had her memories of their tumultuous relationship erased. Out of desperation, he decides to have Clementine removed from his own memory. But as Joel’s memories progressively disappear, he begins to rediscover his love for Clementine.

Following the movie, crowd members asked about the possibilities of a procedure being done and ethics of such a procedure. Dr. Warren said such a procedure is not possible and ethics plays a key role in all memory research.

Dr. Hwang said he was honored to serve as moderator.

“I am a board member of Film Streams, and also a community committee member as well,” Dr. Hwang. “I think it is important to have meaningful conversation about science via the media of art, including films. Films are a powerful tool to invoke emotion, thus combining them with relevant topics of science is a very effective way of educating and engaging the public in science.”

The movie was shown as part of “Science on the Screen,” which is an innovative series that creatively pairs classic, cult and documentary films with lively talks led by notable figures from the world of science, technology and medicine.

Teachers honored at luncheon


Dr. Juvet Che and Dr. Alyssa Hickert were honored with The Ember Award in UNMC Medical Student Education Excellence.

On May 22, UNMC honored students and faculty at the Department of Psychiatry Annual Teaching Awards. Congratulations to the winners.

The Menolascino Award is given to an M4 student who demonstrated outstanding clinical skills during their Psychiatry clerkship, and who has evidenced scholarly mastery in the field of Psychiatry. The student must demonstrate peer leadership among student colleagues that directly relates to the field of Psychiatry. The student should also express an interest in a career in Psychiatry.

Recipient: Dr. Priya Gearin

The Ember Award in UNMC Medical Student Education Excellence recognizes two Psychiatry Resident physicians whose glowing teaching quality, burning passion, and service ignites a fire in UNMC medical students.

Dr. Juvet Che, Dr. Alyssa Hickert

The Flint Award in Educational Excellence recognizes a Faculty member whose teaching quality and passion create a spark in the department.

Recipient: Dr. Daniel Gih

The Steel Award in Educational Engagement recognizes a Faculty member whose daily teaching service illuminates the department.

Recipient: Dr. Jeana Benton

Volunteer Faculty Teacher of the Year Award recognizes a volunteer Faculty member whose volunteer teaching has had a positive impact on medical student education.

Recipient: Dr. Nathan Bruce

Teacher of the Year Award recognizes a non-Faculty member in the department whose teaching has had a positive impact on medical student education.

Recipient: Leigh Cook

(left to right) Dr. Nathan Bruce, Dr. Jeana Barton, Leigh Cook and Dr. Daniel Gih all received awards at the Department of Psychiatry Annual Teaching Awards.


Wengel, Akers, Smith honored for work with residents

Dr. Steven Wengel congratulates Dr. Andrew Smith on winning the Cecil L. Wittson Award.

Three Department of Psychiatry employees were honored for their excellent work with new doctors on June 6 at the Creighton University Psychiatry Program Resident and Fellowship Banquet.

Dr. Steven Wengel, vice chancellor of wellness education for UNMC/UNO and interim geriatric division director, was awarded the Golden Couch Award. Community Service Technician Celeste Akers received the Golden Star Award.

Adrienne Van Winkle, senior program director, said the residents raved about their work with Wengel and Akers.

This Golden Couch Award is given to recognize an outstanding psychotherapy supervisor. Psychotherapy supervision is a working alliance between a faculty member and a resident in which residents offer an account of their work. The resident reflects on it, and receives feedback and guidance. The object of this alliance is to enable the residents to expand their ethical competence, confidence, and creativity as well as give the best possible care to their patients.

“Dr. Steven Wengel has served as a supervisor for many years and has been a constant favorite,” Van Winkle said. “With his truly vast array of knowledge of both psychiatric and non-psychiatric topics he creates a fun and engaging atmosphere for conversation.”

The Golden Star award is given to a staff member who has demonstrated character beyond the requirements of their calling. This involves making themselves available to residents, particularly in challenging situations and often the participation of these team members has changed the course of a patient’s prognosis or treatment.

“Celeste Akers was described by residents as ‘the bomb social worker’ who everyone loves, as she continually improves both the working environment for residents and the lives of the patients.”

During the ceremony, Dr. Wengel presented the Cecil L. Wittson Award to Dr. Andrew Smith.

The Wittson Award for Outstanding Performance as a House Officer in Psychiatry is given to the resident who consistently demonstrates excellent qualities as a physician, psychiatrist, and colleague. Dr. Wengel said Smith’s showed outstanding clinical skill, innovative thinking, availability, supportiveness, dedication to the field, humanism, and respect for diversity. Residents and fellows who win this award are poised to become future leaders, researchers, teachers, and advocates for their patients


Dr. Andrew Smith congratulates Celeste Akers on winning the Golden Star Award.

Staff Spotlight: Brigette Vaughan


For the past two decades, Brigette Vaughan has played many roles when it comes to UNMC Research. Now, she works as a lead research coordinator.  Brigette helps Dr. Soonjo Hwang on his research with children and adolescents.

What are a couple of your main duties?

I have been at UNMC 20 years. Initially my primary role was as a research nurse coordinator, which meant I managed the clinical conduct of our research protocols (patient care in the context of clinical trials). Gradually my duties expanded to regulatory documentation, training of our residents and research assistants, and serving on the IRB. I have served on study coordinator advisory boards, provide some of the training for study coordinators at UNMC/NE Medicine, and have been a monitor for a nationally funded aneurysm study for which UNMC was the coordinating center. I am currently a Vice-Chair of IRB-02. My main duties currently are working with Dr. Hwang to manage and conduct all of the research activities in the department, with special emphasis on regulatory documentation, monitoring and study oversight.

Why did you join the Department of Psychiatry?

I was actually recruited by Dr. Chris Kratochvil who I had worked with at St. Joseph Center for Mental Health’s Child and Adolescent Residential Treatment Center for a couple of years. Dr. Kratochvil was our program medical director, and I was his charge nurse. We developed a relationship that has lasted over 2 decades. He was leaving our program (this was when the department was “splitting” between UNMC and Creighton, and asked if I was interested in continuing to work with kids and learn to coordinate research studies. He knew I enjoyed “hands on” nursing, so I was able to do a lot of procedures (phlebotomy and lab procedures, ecg’s). We became the leading site for a series of pivotal studies for ADHD which saw the development and marketing of Strattera (atomoxetine), and also the NIMH funded TADS Study (Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study). Dr. Kratochvil later submitted and received a K-award.

What are some projects you are currently working on?

I am currently coordinator for Dr. Hwang’s studies which use neuroimaging modalities, neuropsychological tasks and (in some cases) pharmacotherapy, to evaluate children and adolescents with disruptive mood and behavior disorders.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy working with children and families most of all, but I also enjoy the research process. I have a wicked case of OCD, which Dr. Kratochvil made me promise never to treat as it made me a very good researcher. Serving on the IRB allows me to stay in touch with research across departments in the University and to learn about new and exciting projects. My Columbus clinic is a passion as the children and families there are very special to me.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

What spare time? Ha! I have been a BODYSTEP and BODYPUMP instructor for the last 12 years, so I teach about 7 hours of group fitness each week. I am a life-long Denver Broncos fan (born and raised in Walsenburg, Colorado) and a serious fantasy football manager. My husband David and I have been married for nearly 22 years. We have 3 cats (Phurba, Floyd and Rikka) who keep us busy. We also love travelling to the Caribbean twice a year for sun, fun and frosty beverages.

UNMC Professor Dr. Mark Fleisher has made a lot of news this year

Earlier this year, Dr. Fleisher was elected as a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha – Faculty, a national medical honor society. Dr. Fleisher joins Dr. Steven Wengel as UNMC professors in the acclaimed national medical honor society. In addition, Dr. Fleisher became a Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

On Aug. 22 in Rockville, Maryland, Dr. Fleisher will be part of a 12-person panel, which will discuss supporting individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and co-occurring serious mental illness in crisis. The panel hopes to increase understanding of the extent of the problem in addressing the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who experience crisis, help understand ideal community support systems to prevent crises in this population, and develop next steps and promising strategies for broader activities at the federal, state and local levels.

In attendance will be a combination of community experts in the field. Additionally there will be consumers/advocates as well as federal partners in the government, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, which is hosting the important discussion.

This spring, Dr. Fleisher helped write the newest version of the “Diagnostic Manual – Intellectual Disability: A Clinical Guide for Diagnosis of Mental Disorders in Persons with intellectual Disability (DM-ID-2 Clinical Guide).”

Dr. Fleisher said the book is the companion guide to the “Diagnostic Manual – Intellectual Disability: A Textbook of Diagnosis of Mental Disorders in Persons with Intellectual Disability.” (DM-ID-2 Textbook). Both volumes facilitate an accurate, DSM-5 diagnosis of individuals who have an intellectual/ developmental disability and a mental illness.