Teaching Pediatric Mental Health to Student Doctors June 18, 2021
Faculty Focus on Ann L. Contrucci, MD, FAAP
As an assistant professor of pediatrics and a mother, Ann Contrucci, MD, has four focal areas that she is passionate about: mental health, eating disorders,
immunizations and screen time.
After practicing pediatric medicine for over 25 years, she’s seen the impact those
areas can have on infants, children, adolescents and young adults. Because of this
up-close and personal experience, she’s charging herself with bringing more pediatric
mental health education to medical students.
She said that mental health is critical to teach the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine classes, especially those students who aim to practice medicine in rural areas.
“The reality is that these future physicians may be the only people who can provide
any mental health services in a rural area,” she said. “Our students need this education
in order to properly provide for their future patients. In rural areas, sometimes
you’re the only physician, which means you see adults, adolescents, children, and
infants. Our students have to know about pediatrics to be in primary care in rural
areas, so my experience and passions support that.”
Since joining PCOM South Georgia in December 2020, she has performed multiple lectures focusing on traditional pediatric
topics and skills. She has also introduced some new topics to the curriculum including
mental health, mental disorders and eating disorders.
She believes it is important that the medical community embraces mental health as
part of a patient’s total wellness, which also aids in destigmatizing and demystifying
this particular component of health.
“We learn about all the organs of the body, how they work and their diseases. We need
to look at the brain that way as well,” she said.
Dr. Contrucci is currently working with rising third-year students, teaching them
about medical records and diagnostic errors, the tenets of clinical reasoning, adverse
outcome discussions and medical liability and malpractice in order to prepare them
for the realities of their third- and fourth-year clerkship rotations. She is also
a mentor with the COMLEX Readiness Program and the faculty advisor for the student-led
Throughout her career, Dr. Contrucci has worked in pediatric emergency medicine in
the suburbs and inner city as well as practiced primary pediatric care in suburban
and rural settings. She founded a solo practice and taught medical students in Canada;
has been a team member for medical mission trips to Guatemala and Honduras; and worked
for a malpractice company where she taught patient safety to other physicians and
created a peer support group for physicians experiencing a malpractice trial.
Dr. Contrucci holds a Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from The University of Georgia
and received her medical degree from The Medical College of Georgia in 1993. She completed
her pediatric residency at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and has been board certified
in pediatrics since 1996. She has 22-year-old twins and enjoys gardening, cooking,
kayaking and hiking. She is a voracious reader and looks forward to traveling again
and rejoining a cycling club.
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About PCOM South Georgia
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) extended its commitment to the
Southeast by establishing PCOM South Georgia, an additional teaching location in Moultrie, Georgia. PCOM South Georgia offers both
a full, four-year medical program leading to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)
degree and a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree. PCOM is a private, not-for-profit
institution which trains professionals in the health and behavioral sciences fields.
Joining PCOM Georgia in Suwanee in helping to meet the healthcare needs of the state,
PCOM South Georgia focuses on educating physicians for the South Georgia region. The
medical campus, which welcomed its inaugural class of medical students in August 2019,
has received accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association's Commission
on Osteopathic College Accreditation. For more information, visit pcom.edu/southgeorgia or call 229-668-3110.
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