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Medical Student Education in Psychiatry


The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine strives to continually clarify and expand on the mission of its original founders. View the School of Medicine's educational mission.

The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences is enthusiastically committed to the education and training of medical students. Starting in their first year, students at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine are offered a variety of opportunities to learn more about the field of psychiatry and psychiatric patients.

Required Course Work

First Year

Brain, Mind, Behavior

Course Director: Vinay Parekh, M.D.
Course Assistant Director: Claire Zachik, M.D.

The objectives of this course are to:

  1. Facilitate student understanding of the varied modes of thinking required to differentiate problems related to disease, behavior, psychological dimensions, and personal history, and to apply the appropriate scientific methodology in identifying the causes and preventing or treating the symptoms and consequences of these problems.
  2. Facilitate development of a basic competence and professional approach to psychiatric patients, the assessment of the history and mental status of patients with psychiatric problems, and the oral and written communication of an organized psychiatric assessment.
  3. Place psychiatry in the student perception as an area of medicine that deals with problems of profound social and economic importance.
  4. Integrate knowledge of the basic sciences of behavioral conditioning, psychological and cognitive development, and the biological basis of emotion and motivated behavior (including sleep, feeding, and sexuality) with knowledge of the major psychiatric diagnoses, and the basic approaches to psychiatric treatment.

Second, Third and Fourth Year

Psychiatry Clerkship

Course Director: Vinay Parekh, M.D.
Associate Clerkship Director: Avi Gerstenblith, M.D. 

The Psychiatry Clerkship is one part of a 9-week quarter integrating Psychiatry (4 weeks), Neurology (4 weeks) and Ophthalmology (4 days). The clerkship consists of a 4-week inpatient experience and a series of lectures and seminars. Students serve as clerks in the Meyer Building, on General Hospital Psychiatry or at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Students also evaluate patients in specialty outpatient settings. They attend departmental rounds, a series of weekly lectures and case conferences, and see acute mental illness while working in the Emergency Room. Course goals can be summarized as "making psychiatry real" for students through clinical exposure and practical, care-centered teaching.

Elective Opportunities

Curricular Consultant: Susan Lehmann, M.D.

The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences wants to encourage students to take electives in Psychiatry. These can be done within the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, under the supervision of Hopkins faculty, affiliated institutions in the Baltimore area, or under the sponsorship of the department at other medical schools in the United States or abroad. In addition to training programs in research and clinical psychiatry, the Department offers elective seminars and independent study projects.

We try to maintain flexibility in our elective programs, and to attempt as much as possible to design programs that meet the needs of the individual student. The coordinator of electives, Dr. Lehmann, is available to discuss specific interests or goals. A description of some of the available elective rotations can be found online in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Electives Handbook. Many other opportunities can be developed through direct collaboration of individual students and individual faculty members.

Visiting Students

Students enrolled in other medical schools who wish to participate in a clinical clerkship in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences are advised that the School of Medicine reserves the right to strictly evaluate the pre-clinical and clinical education provided by the applicant's own school. As a general rule, clerkships are limited to students in LCME-approved schools. Visiting students are also accepted for research opportunities. Enrollment of visiting students is usually limited to one 9-week period per academic year. Learn more about the School of Medicine Policies Concerning Visiting Medical Students.

More information can be obtained from Shanetha Thomas, M.Ed. in Meyer 4-181 (phone 410-955-5514) and the Office of the Registrar (phone 410-955-3080).

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