UTHSCSA Faculty Profiles v1.0

Dawes, Michael A

School of Medicine
(210) 321-2700 ext. 64008
uthscsa: dawes@uthscsa.edu; va: michael.dawes@va.gov

For the past six years, my primary career emphasis has been service. Secondary emphases have been teaching and research. I transitioned to a career emphasis of service after doing mostly clinical research for over ten years. I discovered that I missed providing clinical care in general and assessment and treatment of Substance Use Disordered (SUD) patients in particular. I therefore changed my career trajectory to make better use of my clinical skills while continuing to use insights from my research experience. A career goal is to provide and continually improve effective treatments to SUD patients in the Veteran?s Health Care System. My recently completed implementation science research and ongoing teaching are designed to improve delivery of effective SUD treatment within the VA while training prescribers and other healthcare providers to effectively treat this population.

In preparation for my career path in Addiction Psychiatry, I earned undergraduate degrees in Biology and Zoology (graduating Phi Beta Kappa) and a medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I chose Psychiatry because for me this medical specialty was the most interesting and rewarding. After my father died from alcohol-related health problems when I was a young teen, I asked myself how I could make a difference by preventing and treating Alcohol Use Disorders. Through my graduate medical training, I have found that the best psychiatric care requires a developmental focus. This realization led to Adult Psychiatry training followed by Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Addiction Psychiatry training, after which I obtained board certification in each of those specialties.

For the past six years most of my efforts have been as Medical Director of the South Texas Veterans Healthcare System Substance Abuse Treatment Program (STVHCS SATP). I ensure that Substance-Use-Disordered (SUD) Veterans who are admitted to SATP (residential and outpatient services), are medically and psychiatrically stable at admission to our specialty programs. My daily clinical work includes doing psychiatric admissions, consults, and follow-up visits for SUD patients. This clinical care is delivered within a continuum of care that includes inpatient, residential and outpatient services. My clinical and administrative responsibilities include facilitating and coordinating interdisciplinary inpatient and outpatient treatment planning and delivery of care. Our team works hard to increase Veterans? access to SATP services, and we promote continuity and transitions in care to other Mental Health programs. I also have leadership responsibilities to help coordinate care to ensure SUD Veterans have access to ongoing primary care. I have clinical and administrative oversight responsibilities for all prescribers at SATP, including two physician assistants and an adult psychiatrist.

My love for teaching and mentoring has grown throughout my career and has led to training clinician-researchers to better assess and treat SUD populations. For the past three years, I have served as Co-Director of the VA Office of Academic Affairs sponsored STVHCS Advanced Fellowship in Addiction Treatment. This Advanced Fellowship is designed to produce clinician-researchers in Addictions Treatment. I have had major leadership and teaching roles in local curricula development for the Fellowship, as well as administrative responsibilities for recruiting, evaluating and mentoring Advanced Fellows. In addition, I teach, precept, and mentor Psychiatry residents from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) and other trainees, many of whom rotate through our SATP. Some of these Psychiatry residents have career interests in Addiction Medicine and Addiction Psychiatry.

My primary research and quality improvement interests focus on improved access to and transitions between SATP levels of care. Prior to becoming Medical Director of STVHCS SATP, my training prepared me for a clinician-scientist career studying adolescent and adult populations who have or are developing substance use disorders. I have been the recipient of a Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) examining developmental trajectories of children of substance-use disordered parents who are at high risk for developing substance use disorders. I have been Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator on clinical and prospective cohort studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), examining relationships among impulsivity, substance use disorders, and suicidal behavior in adolescents and adults. I have research experience in conducting clinical trials in SUD adolescents and adults. For the past several years, I have been doing quality improvement coaching using collaborative care models in primary care settings designed to increase prescribing rates of medications to treat Veterans with Alcohol Use Disorders.