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Message from the Psychiatry Chair

A Message from Carol Olson, MD, Department Chair

Carol Olson

As Chair of the Psychiatry Department of the Creighton University School of Medicine Phoenix Campus, I welcome your interest in our Psychiatry Residency Program, and hope you have the opportunity to get to know our program, staff and residents during your visit today.  We are very proud of the clinical care we provide to the population of Maricopa County, and of the educational experience we offer to our residents.  The Valleywise Health Psychiatry Department has a long history of providing care to the most vulnerable members of our community. Our staff is dedicated to the care of the most ill patients, and we play a unique and invaluable role in mental health treatment in the Valley of the Sun.  A crucial component of our mission is the education of residents as future psychiatrists who will be knowledgeable, ethical, skillful and humane.  Graduates of our program tell us that the training they received allowed them to feel comfortable in many different career settings and with many different treatment approaches-from doing psychotherapy in a private office to caring for the most severely disturbed patients in a locked inpatient setting.  They also tell us that they could better care for their patients because they felt cared for in the program.  We highly value, and indeed celebrate, the great diversity of backgrounds, experiences and learning styles which our residents bring to the program.  Our faculty is equally as diverse, and our Attending staff members have chosen to work in this setting in part due to their desire to teach and mentor residents.  The integration of Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Creighton University School of Medicine, Valleywise Health and District Medical Group into the Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance has allowed us to expand the educational opportunities for our residents, with special expertise at St. Joseph’s Hospital related to treatment of psychiatric complications of neurologic disorders, consultation psychiatry and transplant psychiatry. 

In recognition of the central role Valleywise Health plays in the health care system in Maricopa County, voters in 2014 approved almost $1 billion in bonding capacity intended to allow the health system to modernize its outpatient and inpatient facilities, as well as to support further integration of behavioral health services into its outpatient primary and specialty care clinics.  In the past several years we have started four new outpatient programs: a clinic based at our Mesa Family Health Center intended to provide integrated treatment for seriously mentally ill patients; an Assertive Community Treatment team for seriously mentally ill patients who require intensive services and outreach in the community;  a First Episode Center for individuals with a recent diagnosis of a psychotic disorder, and integrated behavioral health services provided by masters’ level behavioral health clinicians and psychiatrists in the Valleywise network of primary care clinics.  In addition, in early 2018 we opened a unit for adolescent patients at Valleywise Behavioral Health Center – Mesa.  Finally, we have purchased a hospital in the West Valley which we remodeled and re-opened as Valleywise Behavioral Health Center-Maryvale in April 2019; this hospital has 196 psychiatric beds and an Emergency Department and brings our total complement of psychiatric beds to over 400, including a geriatric unit.  We also have an active ECT service, and busy Consultation Psychiatry service at both Valleywise and St. Joseph’s Hospital. The three Valleywise Behavioral Health hospitals are the only hospitals in Maricopa County providing court ordered psychiatric evaluations, offering invaluable experience in assessment for civil commitment and court testimony for our residents.  We are in an exciting period of growth for our department, intending to better serve our community in a time of great need.  We thank you for your interest in our Psychiatry program and look forward to showing it to you.


Carol Olson, M.D., F.A.P.A.