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Medical Student Education in Psychiatry

The Harvard Department of Psychiatry recognizes the vital importance of psychiatric education in the undergraduate medical student curriculum and plays a dynamic role in the teaching of medical students at Harvard Medical School. In addition to their involvement in the preclinical psychiatry course and core clerkship, psychiatry faculty and residents actively participate in a variety of required and elective multidisciplinary courses and evaluations throughout the four year curriculum including Introduction to the Profession, the Patient Doctor sequence (I – III), human development, neurobiology, end of life care, health policy, longitudinal seminars in the third year Principal Clinical Experience, and the Objective Structured Clinical Exams (OSCE) in the second and fourth years. Psychiatry faculty also serve as research and clinical mentors. Visiting medical students interested in enrolling in HMS Psychiatry courses must make arrangements through the Office of the HMS Registrar.

Contacts

Jonathan E. Alpert MD PhD
Director of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry
Tel: (617) 726-5948
Email: jalpert@partners.org

Steven C. Schlozman MD
Associate Director of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry
Tel: (617) 724-5600
Email: sschlozman@partners.org

Jennifer Smialek, B.S.
Administrative Assistant for Medical Student Education in Psychiatry
Email: Jennifer_smialek@hms.harvard.edu

Office of the HMS Registrar
Tel: (617) 432-1515
Email: registrar_hms@hms.harvard.edu

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Required and Elective Courses

The core required preclinical psychiatry course is Psychopathology and Introduction to Clinical Psychiatry. Over the course of 14 weeks at the beginning of the second preclinical year, students participate in centralized sessions at the medical school alternating with smaller group sessions at individual clinical sites. Students are introduced to the mental status exam and psychiatric interviewing as well as the diagnostic features, epidemiology, clinical course, treatment and neurobiology of the core psychiatric disorders including mood, anxiety, psychotic, personality, addictive and eating disorders, trauma syndromes and disorders of childhood. At the same time, students have an opportunity to interact with some of Harvard Psychiatry’s leading researchers, clinicians and teachers and the rich diversity of outpatients and inpatients seeking treatment at affiliated institutions.

The Core Clerkship in Psychiatry is a four week rotation that is offered within five departments of psychiatry: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Mass Mental Health Center, Brigham and Women’s and Faulkner Hospitals, Cambridge Health Alliance, Massachusetts General Hospital, and McLean Hospital. Clerkship assignments are available on inpatient units, consult-liaison services, and partial hospital programs. Weekly didactics foster growing competence in the understanding, assessment and multi-modal treatment of individuals with major psychiatric disorders as well as individuals with psychiatric presentations in the context of other medical illnesses. The clerkship emphasizes small group and individual supervision with attending faculty. Standardized expectations and assessments across clerkship sites support uniform teaching objectives while unique areas of expertise and patient populations within each rotation often allow for experiences that enrich a student’s particular interests and goals. By 2008, all clerkships at Harvard Medical School will take place within the context of the third-year Principal Clinical Experience which will feature longitudinal mentorship and multidisciplinary teaching in additional to core experiences within disciplines.

A broad range of electives are available to Harvard Medical students and visiting students including advanced clinical experiences in inpatient, consult-liaison, child and adolescent, emergency and addiction psychiatry, history of psychiatry and psychosocial oncology and palliative care. For further information, students may consult the Harvard Medical School course catalog (http://medcatalog.harvard.edu). Harvard students may also contact the directors of medical student education in psychiatry for assistance in arranging for individualized mentored clinical and research experiences.

Visiting medical students are welcome to apply for many of the psychiatry electives but must make arrangements through the Office of the Registrar (http://www.hms.harvard.edu/registrar).

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Student Interest Group

An active Student Interest Group in Psychiatry holds biweekly lunch talks on a variety of topics such as law and psychiatry, human sexuality, postpartum psychiatric disorders, international mental health, the integration of neuroscience and psychiatry, and psychiatry and the media. The Interest Group also sponsors informational and social activities throughout the year including a dinner and dialogue with residents in the Harvard affiliated Adult and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry training programs, a faculty-student reception, and a dinner with Residency Training Directors. Student leaders in the Interest Group are active participants in the recently formed Psychiatry Student Interest Group Network (PsychSIGN) of the American Psychiatric Association.

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Donald J. Cohen Fellowship

The Harvard Department of Psychiatry and the Medical School are proud to offer selected medical students who may be interested in child psychiatry an opportunity to participate in the Donald J. Cohen Fellowship child psychiatry, funded by the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation. The Fellowship offers mentored clinical experiences with children and families and meetings with other Cohen fellows and faculty throughout the year.

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Faculty Teaching Awards

The Department is committed to fostering and highlighting excellence in undergraduate medical teaching among its faculty. The annual Kettyle Teaching Award, established in 2004 in honor of the director emerita of medical student education, Cynthia N. Kettyle, MD, recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated truly outstanding teaching and mentoring as well as exceptional leadership in medical student education in psychiatry. In addition, the Harvard Medical School faculty awards annual teaching prizes for excellence in preclinical and clinical teaching. Nationally, the American Psychiatric Association recognizes excellence in medical student teaching with the Nancy C.A. roeske Certificate. HMS psychiatry teachers are well represented among the ranks of nominees and recipients of these local and national recognitions.

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Newsletter and Websites

News about medical student education in psychiatry at Harvard may be found in the newsletter, MSE Report, on the Medical Student Education in Psychiatry website on eCommons. Additional resources and notices may be found on two organizational intranet sites on eCommons: Medical Student Education in Psychiatry and Psychiatry Student Interest Group.

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Department Of Psychiatry Harvard Medical School - 2 West - Room 305 - 401 Park Drive - Boston, MA 02215