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Clerkship Guide
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Electives Syllabi


# Family Medicine
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# Psychiatry

The purpose of the psychiatry elective clerkship is to develop the student's clinical skills in diagnosis and treatment of patients who have mental disorders. Students will develop their skills in a variety of diagnostic and treatment procedures that are commonly involved in psychiatric care.

Certain skills are fundamental to the diagnosis and management of mental health problems. Development of these clinical psychiatric skills is essential. The rotation should be oriented toward helping the student increase his/her readiness to perform the following basic skills:

  1. Conducting diagnostic interviews including activities such as:
    1. discussing the patient's concerns in an empathetic manner
    2. obtaining relevant psychosocial and medical histories
    3. conducting the mental status exam
  2. Formulating and explaining diagnostic findings and treatment
    recommendations involving:
    1. summarizing medical and psychosocial histories
    2. current physical exam and lab results
    3. diagnostic interview data
    4. treatment recommendations into a comprehensive, integrated account of the patient's current health status
    5. explaining the findings to the patient, family, and/or other health care professionals
  3. Documenting evaluation and treatment procedures in a timely fashion involving duties such as:
    1. recording results of diagnostic interviews
    2. lab studies
    3. treatment plans

The student should have the opportunity to observe and/or assist the Attending Physicians with:

  • recommending medical tests and diagnostic procedures
  • prescribing appropriate medications and other somatic treatments
  • conducting appropriate therapy/ management interviews

Because of the differences in patients, clinical activities offered, and staff resources among sites, considerable variation in the activities available among the sites should be expected.

Students should attempt to:

  • Observe and/or conduct diagnostic evaluations with psychiatric patients
  • Perform neuropsychiatric histories and physical exams
  • Observe the presentation of patients who meet diagnostic criteria for many of the major DSM-IV categories
  • Identify the essential and associated features of the relevant DSM-IV diagnoses
  • Observe and/or participate in diagnostic decision making
  • Observe and/or participate in the process of designing a treatment plan for psychiatric patients
  • Observe and/or participate in a multi-disciplinary treatment approach for psychiatric patients
  • Observe and/or participate in the psychopharmacological treatment of patients within the major DSM-IV diagnostic categories
  • Study the clinical use of psychotropic medications, including indications and contraindications, dosage scheduling, and modes of action
  • Study the clinical presentation and treatment of common pharmacological side effects
  • Observe and/or conduct patient education about psychotropic medications

Additional topics of learning may include:

  • Classification in psychiatry and psychiatric scales
  • Delirium, dementia, and amnesic and other cognitive disorders
  • Substance-related disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Somatoform disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Normal sleep and sleep disorders
  • Adjustment disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Problems related to abuse or neglect
  • Psychiatric emergencies
  • Psychotherapies
  • Biological therapies
  • Child psychiatry, assessment, examination, and testing
  • Mental retardation
  • Attention-deficit disorders
  • Disruptive behavior disorders
  • Psychiatric treatment of children and adolescents
  • Geriatric psychiatry