An interview with Dr. Michelle Cochran, PULSES Course Director
Dr. Cochran developed and leads the course Pulses, which trains Physiaincs worldwide how to effectively treat with TMS. CLICK TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE from the Clinical TMS Society…
Dr. Michelle Cochran has been offering TMS to patients since 2011 and was a founding member of the Clinical TMS Society. She attended the University of Louisville School of Medicine and completed her residency in psychiatry at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Cochran is the Chief Medical Officer of the NeuroScience & TMS Treatment Center in Nashville, Tennessee. She served as the Clinical TMS Society (CTMSS) President for the 2017-2018 year, is an inaugural Fellow of CTMSS Society, a distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, the ACROSS representative to the APA, the APA’s chair of the Caucus on Neuromodulation and the CTMSS’s PULSES course director.
“I saw [TMS] as a new emerging field that I wanted to be involved in [and] I attended the first annual CTMSS meeting and have stayed very involved [with the Society] since that time,” Dr. Cochran says. “I think I’ve been on every committee at some point,” she says with a laugh, “but now [I’m on] just PULSES and the Annual Meeting committee.” It was during her time as Vice President during the 2016-2017 year that she developed the idea for a TMS training course, known as PULSES.
History of PULSES
“I wanted to start a course because there weren’t many. There were some university-based courses, but I had been to them all. I had attended Rich Bermudes & Karl Lanocha’s course which they developed [for their practice], and I went to every device company’s course [live or online],” she explains. “I helped out in the early days with a course the APA ran, and then actually spoke for Neuronetics in the early years.” However, Dr. Cochran felt that there wasn’t a comprehensive, accessible, and regular course option for prescribing clinicians who wanted to learn about TMS.
“We started with a one-day course. Suzanne Kearns was part of the original faculty and my co-chair on the Education Committee at the time…[Suzanne] jokes that she just went along for the ride that I had in my head, but the reality was that the early faculty were integral in the development,” Dr. Cochran laughs. The first faculty alongside Dr. Cochran were Dr. Linda Carpenter, Dr. Kimberly Cress, Dr. Richard Pitch, Dr. Suzanne Kerns, Dr. Max Okasha, Dr. Kevin Kinback, and Dr. David Fiefel. “We did another course about six months later when I was President of the Society. Then we began hosting wherever our annual meeting was occurring,” she explains. “We added the engineer responsible for the TMS device technology, Professor Anthony Barker as a guest speaker and have managed to draft him as a full time PULSES faculty member.”
“It has been a joy to get to work with Tony and the core faculty that has evolved from the very beginning.” The Colorado Springs PULSES took place in May prior to the annual meeting, and the sixteenth course will be held in Ann Arbor, Michigan this October. “Typically, the Society tries to put on three PULSES courses per year, but the Board challenged the group to add more courses, so we added more faculty this spring. We also try to bring in guest speakers, like Dr. Mark George, who have had a significant impact on the field of TMS since its inception,” Dr. Cochran says.
“We’ve had four international courses; two in London, one in Vancouver, and one in Australia,” Dr. Cochran says. “We see PULSES as three-pronged. One, it fulfills the mission of the Society, two, it builds membership, and three it makes money for the Society,” she explains. “We are constantly tweaking it to see how we can make it better. No two courses were the same. They always get better, and we always take everyone’s feedback,” she says. “I appreciate honest feedback and criticism and when people give it, I and the group usually take it to heart and try to figure out a way to make the course better.”
PULSES has evolved over the years. During COVID, an online introductory CME course called CTMSS On Demand was established. “We made a sort of mini PULSES,” Dr. Cochran says. The virtual version is an abbreviated version of the in-person course. “The PULSES course is typically 14 to 16 hours’ worth of CME, and we didn’t think anybody would want to do that much virtually. And we couldn’t replicate the huge hands-on part [to PULSES],” she explains.
As the course has grown, so has the workload for PULSES. Dr. Abdelghani established Dr. Cochran as an official director of the course with a paid stipend during his presidency last year. Dr. Cochran acknowledges that while it is a lot of work, it is worth it to her. “It’s a labor of love at this point,” she says with a smile. “I also feel like it is the right thing to do…it is helping prescribing clinicians get all the right information from the very beginning. I wish I would have started in 2011 with all this information!”
At the NeuroScience & TMS Treatment Center, we have several treatment options we can use, beyond common medications and therapy, to aggressively treat you for brain diseases. Learn more about our treatments and services on our Comprehensive Behavioral Health Page.
Blog Post Authors
Michelle Cochran, MD, DFAPA
Founder & Chief Medical Officer • Medical Director, Nashville Locations
Dr. Cochran has been living and working in the Nashville area for over 25 years. She supervises the skilled Nurse Practitioners who work in our clinics. She has been offering TMS services since 2011 and lectures and consults nationally and internationally about TMS. She is Board Certified and is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Learn more about Dr. Cochran.
Jonathan Becker, DO
Medical Director, Brentwood Locations
Dr. Becker is a native of Tennessee, born in Memphis. He completed his undergraduate and master’s degrees in Developmental Psychology at Tulane University in New Orleans before attending Des Moines University for Medical School. He completed his psychiatry residency program at Vanderbilt University and served as a faculty member there for 7 years before transitioning to our office. While at Vanderbilt, Dr. Becker served as the medical director of the neuromodulation service from 2017-2020. Dr. Becker has also published many psychiatric articles. Learn more about Dr. Becker.