Mark D. Williams, M.D.

Photo of Mark D. Williams, M.D.
  • Consultant, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology
  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
  • Population Health Scholar

What moment or experience in your life influenced your decision to be a clinician?

I think it may be my experiences in childhood watching my father and three other missionary U.S. physicians (two surgeons, a family doctor and an internist all together) take care of patients in Pakistan in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were very inspiring to all of us as kids, and several of us became physicians.

What motivated you to become a Population Health Scholar?

I suspect it was a combination of seeing all the background public health problems in that hospital in Pakistan, my majoring in sociology in college and several years of experience as a clinician in psychiatry.

I have been involved in the delivery of psychiatric care in a very wide variety of settings and have become convinced that there is a significant need for mental health providers to be more oriented to public health needs.

I had the good fortune of being involved in the implementation of a model of collaborative care for depression in more than 80 clinics across Minnesota. I was impressed by how many more patients we could reach in this new model, where we looked at the whole population of depressed patients, not just the person in the office.

What is your focus as a scholar within the Mayo Clinic Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery?

I am focusing on models of behavioral health integration within primary care that reach more patients earlier in their illness with evidence-based treatments. To promote these changes, I am involved both in projects that help to demonstrate need as well as projects that test feasibility of new models, efficacy and ways of implementing these models in a variety of settings.

How will your research improve patient care or impact public health?

I hope to find projects and be involved in publications that are easily accessible to those wanting to redesign their practices toward better care delivery for patients with behavioral health problems.

There are so many areas of our health care system needing investigation and improvement, and I have been impressed by how well-designed research can help practices reorganize their care to reach more patients with evidence-based approaches.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to pursue your career?

One reason is because of Mayo's history of excellence. There is also a wonderful team spirit and potential for cross-collaboration at Mayo that is hard to find elsewhere. I enjoy working with colleagues with very different perspectives on health, and I have learned that solutions for our ailing health care system will only come by working as a team.