Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
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Medical Students

The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences has a strong commitment to teaching medical students throughout their medical school careers. From early exposure through the core clerkship and senior electives, the department offers a number of phase- and year-based opportunities that aim to provide all students with a strong foundation of core knowledge in psychiatry and train physicians who are attuned to issues of mental health and illness.

 Phase 1a and 1b - M1/M2

Patients in Context

In this short course, conducted as part of the “Patient, Physician and Society” curriculum, students meet in large groups with a faculty preceptor and observe the interview of a live patient. The goal of the session is to provide early patient contact and to introduce the biopsychosocial model.

Behavioral Sciences

This 12-hour course, conducted as part of the “Structure-Function” curriculum, provides an introduction to the behavioral sciences, including sessions on normal development from infancy through aging, human sexuality, neurobiology of emotion, stress and health, genetics and human behavior, gender and illness and psychodynamics.

Introduction to Psychopathology

This course, conducted as part of the “Scientific Basis of Medicine” curriculum, provides an introduction to basic psychopathology and psychopharmacology. In a combination of large lectures and live patient interviews, students learn about mood disorders, psychotic disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, personality disorders, somatoform disorders and disorders of childhood.

Mental Status Exam Workshop

As part of the “Introduction to Clinical Skills” course, students learn about the mental status exam and practice interviewing a standardized psychiatric patient in small groups with faculty preceptors.

Patient Perspectives

Patient Perspectives is a student-run program that gives first-year medical students the opportunity to speak with patients one-on-one in order to see medical care from a patient’s perspective. The psychiatry branch of the program allows about 12 students, half in the fall and half in the spring, to visit the inpatient weekly to speak with patients about their psychiatric illness and how it has affected their lives. Students then meet weekly as a group to discuss their experiences and to learn more about psychiatry.

Community Health - Psychiatry Section

M1s and M2s (Phase One), M3s from the psychiatry clerkship, a resident and an attending physician staff a psychiatry clinic at the Community Health West Town location every Tuesday night. This free clinic for uninsured patients provides medical students the opportunity to learn more about psychiatry while working closely with Northwestern residents and attending physicians.

 Phase 2 and 3 - M3/M4

Psychiatry Clerkship

The junior psychiatry clerkship is four weeks in duration. Students are assigned either to Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH), the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center (VA) or Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Students come together for general orientation, lectures (Tuesdays, 1 to 5 p.m.), the final exam and OSCE.

NMH has three inpatient teams and a consultation-liaison service. Most students assigned to NMH spend two weeks on inpatient psychiatry and two weeks with the C/L team. Students at the VA rotate on the inpatient service or the consultation-liaison service. Core students rotating at Lurie Children's are typically placed on the inpatient service.

The overall goal of the clerkship is to prepare students to provide psychiatric care at a basic level. By the end of the rotation, students should be proficient at taking a psychiatric history and doing a mental status exam. They should also be able to formulate a biopsychosocial assessment, differential diagnosis and treatment plan. The clerkship places an emphasis on learning interviewing skills, team collaboration and respect for psychiatric patients and their disorders.

Community Health - Psychiatry Section

M1s and M2s (Phase 1), M3s from the psychiatry clerkship, a resident and an attending physician staff a psychiatry clinic at the Community Health West Town location every Tuesday night. This free clinic for uninsured patients provides medical students the opportunity to learn more about psychiatry while working closely with Northwestern residents and attending physicians. 

Electives

Our department provides a variety of four-week electives for senior students in psychiatry and also hosts a number of visiting students during their senior year. Interested external students should refer to the MD Education section for visiting students.

Current electives include:

  • Child Psychiatry Inpatient
  • Child Psychiatry Partial Hospital
  • Child Psychiatry Consultation-Liaison
  • Emergency Psychiatry
  • Inpatient Psychiatry (Senior)
  • Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry
  • Community Psychiatry

 Student Research

The department provides interested students with a wide variety of research opportunities working with our faculty. Students can receive funding for summer research through the Medical Student Summer Research Program and can then continue their work through their medical school years.

Currently, there are no observerships, externships or internships for our department. If you are a visiting student and are interested in a clerkship, please visit the MD Education section for visiting students or contact visitingstudents@northwestern.edu.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact clerkship coordinator Rachel Rodriguez at 312-926-8097.

Gausche-150-225
Eric Gausche, MD
Director, Medical Student Education

Dr-Gaurava-Agarwal-150-225
Gaurava Agarwal, MD
Associate Clerkship Director

MD Teaching

Passionate teachers are critical to the success of Feinberg medical students. The Augusta Webster Office of Medical Education is looking for faculty to inspire future leaders by teaching in our MD Program. We offer teaching formats and schedules that can accommodate your needs.

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