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Wayne State to Host Behavioral Health Mini-Conference

Published Friday, November 2nd, 2018

Wayne State faculty, students, and regional professional stakeholders will explore how the college’s region is meeting its behavioral care needs and career development in the field.

Wayne State College is proud to announce it will host the WSC Behavioral Health Mini-Conference, which has been organized by the Northeast Nebraska Behavioral Health Network and WSC faculty member Dr. Monica Snowden, professor of sociology, and chair of the Psychology and Sociology Department. The mini-conference will bring together Wayne State faculty, students, and regional professional stakeholders to explore how the college’s region is meeting its behavioral care needs and career development in the field. The conference, which begins at 2 p.m. Nov. 13 in Gardner Hall auditorium, is free and open to the public.

The conference will kick off at 2 p.m. with a panel presentation of community and professional stakeholders discussing the behavioral care needs they encounter in their positions and how those needs are currently being addressed. The panel discussion will be followed by a student poster session from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the atrium of Gardner Hall. The keynote address will be given by Dr. Howard Liu, director of the UNMC Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska and child psychiatrist at University of Nebraska Medical Center, at 7 p.m. in Gardner Hall auditorium. 

The WSC Task Force for Career Development in Behavioral Health, which will be formally announced at the conference, is charged with reviewing and cataloguing behavioral health needs in rural Northeast Nebraska in order to identify strategies to increase interest in behavioral health careers. The Task Force will provide recommendations for initiatives that will serve to support students intending to practice in behavioral health care fields in Northeast Nebraska.  

The Task Force was formed to honor Stephen Spelic, who was described as an old-time social worker after his death in May 2018. He spent his professional life in the behavioral health system in Nebraska and Iowa. He had years of experience in a case-by-case review of the behavioral health system from the point of view of the emergency room and hospital. The Task Force is directly supporting the NE Nebraska Behavioral Health Network in its goal to create and retain a behavioral health workforce in this area of the state to honor the memory of Spelic.   

The panel discussion planned for the conference will feature Misty Beair, Special Education Director for Wayne Community Schools; Julie Rother, Director of Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department; Steve Hecker of Region 4 Behavioral Health Services; Jennifer Jackson, Executive Director of Heartland Counseling Services; Marta Nelson; and Leslie Schulz, Director of Social Services at Providence Medical Center.  

Dr. Howard Liu will deliver the keynote address titled “From North Omaha to Northeast Nebraska: Building the Behavioral Health Workforce of the Future.”

“Nebraska has long suffered from a shortage of mental health and substance use providers,” according to the description of his talk. “This shortage is especially acute in rural and urban underserved communities, and this led to the establishment of the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN). In this presentation, Dr Liu will highlight national, state, and local trends that impact access to behavioral health services. He will discuss three innovations that will transform the training of healthcare providers and the delivery of effective care in the 21st century.” 

Liu is a nationally recognized educator, behavioral health workforce expert, and practicing child psychiatrist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). He serves as the Director of the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN); a state funded office whose mission is to recruit and retain a skilled and passionate behavioral health workforce in Nebraska.  He also serves as Interim Chair of the UNMC Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Liu maintains an active child psychiatry practice as an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at UNMC. 

Regarding workforce development, Dr. Liu serves as a founding member of the Medical Directors Institute for the National Council for Behavioral Health and as a member of the National Advisory Council for the Clinical Scholars Program for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. BHECN was selected to receive the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Champions of Training and Workforce Development Award in 2016. 

Nationally and internationally, Dr. Liu has presented more than 65 peer-reviewed abstracts and is a frequent invited speaker. He serves in educational leadership positions at the Association of Directors of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Dr. Liu is a recipient of numerous educational awards including the Outstanding Teacher Award from the UNMC Faculty Senate and the Creativity in Psychiatric Education Award from the American College of Psychiatrists (ACP).

For information, please contact Dr. Monica Snowden at mosnowd1@wsc.edu or 402-375-7136.