To advance his research on integrated mental health and substance use services and rural health equity, PhD candidate Daniel Baslock has been awarded a prestigious National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded T32 Behavioral Sciences Training in Drug Abuse Research (BST) pre-doctoral fellowship.
Based at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, each year the BST program prepares nine pre-doctoral and seven post-doctoral fellows from across the country in various behavioral disciplines for careers in research on drug abuse. In addition to funding, the fellows receive intensive training and gain hands-on experience conducting research, building their publication records, and writing grants for external funding.
Daniel, who earned his MSW at NYU Silver in 2010, expressed particular appreciation to his PhD Program mentor, Professor Victoria Stanhope, whom he cited as one the most important people in his professional development since he took her Advanced Social Policy course as an MSW student. “Her teaching and research really stuck with me,” he said. “Without Dr. Stanhope, I wouldn’t have engaged in developing my skills in evidence-based practice and thinking really hard about what it means for policy to influence practice. She supported me in getting into the PhD program and every moment since, including in my application for the BST fellowship.”
A Focus on Integrated Services and Rural Health Equity
Throughout the fellowship, Daniel will be working on his dissertation, which is entitled “Understanding the Impact of a Blended Payment Strategy on Mental Health and Substance Use Service Utilization.” The study entails an analysis of electronic health record data from rural state community mental health system to see if the state’s shift to a capitated payment structure (in which providers are paid a fixed amount per patient for a period of time regardless of usage) for mental health services while maintaining fee-for-service funding for substance use treatment has incentivized agencies to provide co-occurring mental health and substance use treatment.
Daniel chose to focus his research on integrated mental health and substance use because of systemic failings he observed during his nine years as a clinician in mental health and substance use treatment programs in Vermont prior to pursuing his PhD. “America’s substance use treatment system can be harmful when it aligns with the war on drugs, and it is closely embedded with the carceral system,” he said. “As a clinician, I saw a lot of poor care because clinicians are often doing things that don’t work in systems that don’t work. My values as a social worker drew me to care about integrated treatment: ways that agencies that facilitate person-centered care can adopt substance use treatment into their workflow. Simply integrating mental health and substance use treatment creates more opportunities for people, particularly in rural areas, to get all of their needs met in one place.”
Leveraging his NYU Silver Training
Beyond the funding and advanced training provided by BST, Daniel is looking forward to being part of an interdisciplinary community of substance use researchers. “Being part of the research community at BST, just feeling that connection and having a shared language around the work we’re doing, really matters to me,” he said. He also appreciates that being a BST fellow makes it easier to network with researchers in the field outside of NYU Silver and its affiliated centers whose work he admires. “It gives you an excuse to reach out and opens doors to researchers I haven’t had access to in the past.”
Daniel credited NYU Silver’s PhD Program with setting him up for success in the BST Program. “Because of the education I’ve received at Silver,” he said, “I think I am well positioned to make use of the training the BST provides.” In particular, he cited his research and coursework with Dr. Stanhope and the grant writing course he took with Professor Ramesh Raghavan, who serves on his dissertation committee. “Both Professor Stanhope and Professor Raghavan really accelerated my writing and my ability to conceptualize research studies from a theoretical base. I’ll be able to really benefit from the BST program’s advanced training in grant writing, research, and conceptualization skills because of the strong foundation they helped me establish.”