People of the U: Dr. Saurabh Bhardwaj
Published on Wednesday, January 8, 2020
By: Kate Royals
Dr. Saurabh Bhardwaj saw a lot of addiction – including opioids, alcohol and tobacco – during his medical residency at the University of Pittsburgh after graduating from medical school in India. He became very interested in treating those patients – and in particular, treating them with compassion.
“It was a good way to provide a public service. These patients are in such dire need and minimal to no help is available for a lot of them,” Bhardwaj, assistant professor of psychiatry, said.
He points to a statistic from the U.S. Surgeon General’s office that in the United States, only about 11 percent of patients who are diagnosed with an addiction get any form of treatment.
“This is usually because of the stigma (associated with addiction) and lack of resources,” he said.
Bhardwaj’s passion led him to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in August of 2018 to be medical director of its new addiction clinic, which is open four days a week at the Jackson Medical Mall.
There, he works as an outpatient psychiatrist for patients with addiction – in addition to seeing general patients, teaching residents and medical students and doing some research the rest of the time.
“Half of my work is running the addiction clinic which we do in collaboration with the psychology department. We provide comprehensive addiction services, which includes diagnostic testing and treatment, including medication-assisted treatment and contingency management based treatment,” or treatment that involves using incentives, he explained. “We try to provide evidence-based care and match the standards of care that are going on elsewhere.”
Before the new clinic, UMMC’s addiction services were limited to mostly psychosocial individual therapy.
“Now, we treat a broad scope of addictions – alcohol, methamphetamine, opioids” in new ways, he said.
When Bhardwaj is not seeing patients, teaching or doing research, he can be found spending time with family, watching Formula 1 auto racing or, as a self-described “avid amateur astronomer,” peering through his telescope at nebulae, star clusters and planets.
Dr. Jeff Parker, director of the clinic and professor of psychiatry, said he and patients have noticed the care and compassion Bhardwaj shows in his work.
“Dr. Bhardwaj approaches each patient with compassion and individually tailors their treatment. I frequently hear spontaneous comments from patients about how nice he is and how much he’s helped them,” Parker said.
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