Expert: Improving Medical Training on Intersection Between Medicine, Psychiatry, Neurology Remains Critical


Lea Davis, PhD, of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt Genetics Institute, discusses how a lack of training in the intersection of these domains has caused health systems to fail a subset of patients, including those experiencing functional seizures.

Contemporary Clinic ® interviewed Lea Davis, PhD, an associate professor of medicine in the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and an investigator in the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute, on a study she co-authored that was published in JAMA Network Open on the epidemiology of functional seizures among adults treated at a university hospital.

Lea Davis: I think really the main message from this paper was that functional seizure conditions are not occurring in isolation; they tend to cooccur with not just psychiatric conditions, but with other medical conditions, like comorbid cerebrovascular disease.

So, just thinking about the constellation of health concerns that folks experiencing functional seizures have to deal with on top of the difficulty that they have with getting the appropriate diagnosis and then getting the appropriate treatment, I think it really, to me, suggests that we need to be doing a much better job of training our medical professionals in addressing the intersection between medicine, psychiatry, and neurology. I think the historical separations in these domains really have failed a subset of patients, and among those is definitely patients experiencing functional seizures.

My hope is that, as we do more research in this area that will inspire hopefully both researchers and clinicians to actually start looking beyond their domain to begin to understand more about what functional seizure patients are dealing with on kind of a daily basis.

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