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CME conference for health professionals to focus on violence

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JOHNSON CITY (October 9, 2013) – The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at East Tennessee State University’s James H. Quillen College of Medicine holds a continuing medical education conference each year, and organizers settled easily on this year’s theme: violence, and the prevention and treatment of it.

“Basically, we were looking for a highly relevant topic,” said Dr. Merry Miller, “and what topic could be more relevant in this day and age?”

Miller is an ETSU professor of psychiatry and activity director for the Psychiatry in the Mountains Conference “Violence: Prediction, Prevention and Treatment,” being held Friday, Oct. 18, at the Millennium Centre. The event is co-sponsored by the department and the ETSU Office of Continuing Medical Education (CME).

The conference is designed for physicians and all health care, public health, law enforcement, social work and academic professionals who provide or have an interest in mental health care and the increasing occurrence of associated violence.

The panel of speakers includes many experts from the ETSU faculty. They include two from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences: Dr. Jill D. McCarley, assistant professor and associate director of residency training, speaking on “Effects of Media on Violent Behavior in Children,” and Dr. Thomas Schacht, professor, who will address “Female Violence: Rhetoric and Reality.”

Other participating ETSU faculty include Dr. Jill Stinson, assistant professor with the Department of Psychology, on “Risk Assessment and Treatment of Sex Offenders”; Dr. Judy Rice, assistant professor with the College of Nursing, on “Typical or Troubled: A Program to Prevent School Violence”; and Dr. Stacy Miller, assistant professor of pharmacy practice with the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, on “Pharmacological Treatments that Induce or Prevent Violence.”

Miller said the department chose topics that are particularly relevant in today’s world. She is looking especially forward to the discussions that will result from the presentation by McCarley.

“Children are exposed to so many horrible events and such a level of violence through the media,” Miller said, “and we’re in a time where those events get more focus from the media. There’s ongoing discussion related to that question: How much does that violent content influence the behavior of children?”

Other speakers and topics include Dr. R.J. Elbin, assistant professor of exercise science at the University of Arkansas, on “Concussion: Students and Professional Athletes”; Dr. Heidi Vermette, acting chief of psychiatry with the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center; and Dr. Badari Birur, psychiatrist with Hillcrest Associates in Birmingham, Ala.

Vermette will look at “Risk Assessment for Violence” and Birur will present “Early Intervention and Prevention of PTSD.”

“Risk assessment is a constant concern for any mental health professional,” Miller said. “Whenever I hear about some violent act that’s been committed, my first reaction is, ‘Was the person who committed that act receiving mental health treatment?’ We cannot predict violent behavior as well as we would like, because we’ll never be able to predict it perfectly.

“And with early intervention to prevent post-traumatic stress syndrome, that topic rightly puts the focus on the victims. Whenever violence is committed, the unfortunate fact is that sometimes the victims are forgotten.”

Despite Miller’s stark caution – that even trained professionals will never be able to achieve perfection in predicting violence related to mental health problems – mental health treatment is the answer to reducing it. The talk by Dr. Stacy Miller on effective pharmacological treatments is of particular value in that vein.

“Her talk is very relevant for prescribers,” Dr. Merry Miller said. “When patients do become agitated to the point of violent behavior, it’s important to know which medications can make their condition better and which can make it worse.”

For online registration and more information, including a complete list of speakers and topics, visit www.etsu.edu/com/cme. Registration for the conference, as well as assistance for those with disabilities, is also available by calling the Office of CME at (423) 439-8027.

The Quillen College of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.