AUGUSTA, Ga. – Dr. Peter F. Buckley, a psychiatrist and Dean of the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University, has received the 2012 Cancro Academic Leadership Award from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
The award recognizes contributions to child and adolescent psychiatry by a general psychiatry training director, medical school dean, CEO of a training institution or chair of a psychiatry department. It honors, Dr. Robert Cancro, who chaired the Department of Psychiatry at New York University for 40 years and remains on faculty as a professor.
Buckley was honored during the Academy’s 59th Annual Meeting, where he gave an honors presentation, “Advancing Child and Adolescent Training Experiences Through a Recovery-Oriented Model of Care.”
“His high energy, positive outlook and far-reaching vision constantly encourages all of us toward excellence and professional commitment to go above and beyond the standard expectations in clinical practice and academic mission,” Dr. Sandra B. Sexson, MCG Section Chief, wrote in nominating Buckley for the Cancro Award.
“I am privileged to receive an award honoring both Bob Cancro, a truly great leader in psychiatry, as well as the field of child and adolescent psychiatry, which has such a terrifically positive influence on children’s health and futures,” Buckley said. “Throughout MCG, we are fortunate to have individuals who have a strong sense of team and the greater good which are essential to individual and collective excellence as well as true leadership. I count myself fortunate to support their effort.”
Buckley, who chaired the MCG Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior for a decade before becoming Dean in 2010, led the rebuilding of a department rocked by research fraud. Under his leadership, the department reinvigorated existing programs and developed innovative new ones, including a treatment and training model that focuses on recovery from mental illness, engaging patients as educators and advisors.
Project GREAT, or the Georgia Recovery-Based Educational Approach to Treatment, earned the 2012 Award for Creativity in Psychiatric Education from the American College of Psychiatrists. ”Part of the magic of Project GREAT is it says: ‘If you really want to develop your skills as a clinician, you need to listen to the person right in front of you,’” Buckley said.
While Chair, Buckley also helped transform Georgia’s troubled public mental health care system, serving on Georgia’s Gubernatorial Task Force on Mental Health Commission for a New Georgia and Georgia’s Mental Health Systems Transformation Task Force. In October 2009, Buckley and the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, announced that GHSU would take charge of East Central Georgia Regional Hospital, a state facility for mental health and intellectual disabilities that had been considered for closure.
The collaboration has enhanced the department and the hospital but, most importantly, helped improve care for patients, Buckley said. “Every day we are out there, in some small way, we are improving the care of people who are the most disadvantaged.” It’s also healthy to step away from the segregation that resulted from largely well-intended efforts to develop public mental health systems, he noted.
“Essentially psychiatry has been a spinoff, a parallel, independent, separately funded health care system,” Buckley said. “The parallel system that serves mental health keeps it at bay from the rest of physical health.” He noted the “artificial distinction” in differentiating between diseases – and patients – such as Parkinson’s and schizophrenia, when both are linked to problems with the neurotransmitter dopamine. Significant overlap exists in many areas such as obesity, depression and cardiovascular disease as well as general physical well-being and the risk of suicide.
Health-care reform provides a real opportunity for mainstreaming, for shifting psychiatry’s focus to prevention and treating mental and physical health in tandem, said Buckley, a member of the American Psychiatric Association Workgroup on the Role of Psychiatry in Health Care Reform. “We need to embrace the overlap and work more synergistically to provide total health care to our patients.”
Buckley, an expert in schizophrenia, received the 2011 Wayne Fenton Award for Exceptional Clinical Care from the Schizophrenia Bulletin. He chaired a Special Emphasis Panel on the condition for the National Institutes of Health in 2010, served on two other NIH panels and chaired the Interventions Committee for Disorders Related to Schizophrenia of the National Institute of Mental Health from 2006-09.
He is an Advisory Board Member of the International Congress on Schizophrenia Research and a member of the Scientific Council of the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders. He served on the American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education Board of Directors and chaired the NIMH Interventions Committee for Disorders Related to Schizophrenia, Late Life or Personality. He serves on a NIMH Data and Safety Monitoring Board to safeguard research participants and monitor clinical trials and is a member of the American Psychiatric Association Committee on Research Awards. He chairs the PanAmerican International Division of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which facilitates worldwide exchange of psychiatry information. His collaborative research has explored genetic differences that can improve disease diagnosis and treatment, identifying a predictor of disease relapse, monitoring for the potentially dangerous metabolic side effects of newer antipsychotic medications and comparing injectible medicine to tablets.
Buckley started a fellowship to groom aspiring chairmen while he was President of the American Association of Chairs of Academic Departments of Psychiatry. He received the 2007 Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association’s Psychiatrist of the Year award as well as an Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.