Core Clerkship in Psychiatry

The Core Clerkship in Psychiatry provides an intensive clinical exposure to the assessment and management of patients with psychiatric disorders. It begins with one day of PRECEDE, which, in addition to orientation, includes special preparatory didactics on the mental status exam, psychiatric interviewing, psychiatric formulation and psychopharmacology. Each student will participate in the full range of service activities in General Hospital Psychiatry or on the Meyer wards or on the Bayview Acute Psychiatric Unit, including daily rounds, patient evaluations, family meetings, treatment conferences and teaching rounds. Students will conduct evaluations and meet individually (and in some settings in groups) with patients. Students are also assigned to Psychiatry Emergency Room shifts and two half-days in outpatient psychiatry clinic settings. Additional clinical experiences are:

  • Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit (SBCU)
  • Bayview Center for Addiction and Pregnancy (CAP)
  • Neuropsychiatry/Geriatric Psychiatry Clinic at Bayview
  • Children’s Mental Health Clinic
  • Psychogeriatric Clinic
  • Fronto-temporal Dementia Clinic (FTD)

PRECEDE Overview

The core clerkship in Psychiatry begins with one full day of PRECEDE: Pre-Clerkship Education Exercises. The PRECEDE didactics are designed to sharpen the clinical skills and knowledge that students will use and develop during the four-week Psychiatry core clerkship. PRECEDE sessions include:

  • A comprehensive “how-to” review of the Mental Status Examination.
  • An interactive session on advanced psychiatric interviewing skills: This session highlights techniques for eliciting a history during difficult patient interactions, using information from the mental status examination to develop rapport with a patient and to guide the psychiatric interview, and how to develop a psychiatric formulation.
  • An in-depth session on psychopharmacology, reviewing all the major classes of psychiatric medications, their indications and their potential adverse effects to watch for in patients.
  • A wrap-up session on identifying mood disorders in youth: This session is focused on developing clinical reasoning skills, with special emphasis on the ways that gathering and assimilating information may be different in younger patients compared with adults.      

Learning Goals

The aim and overall focus of the clerkship is to achieve learning in four domains:

  • Function as a physician: Demonstrated degree of responsibility, initiative, thoroughness, rapport with patients and ability to work as part of a team, applicable to all specialties.
  • Knowledge of psychiatry: Mastery of the basic facts of psychiatric disorders – pathogenesis, psychopathology, diagnostic points and major treatments. 
  • Skills: Demonstrated ability to obtain a psychiatric history, execute and communicate the mental status examination and formulate a case.  
  • Ability to reason psychiatrically: Capacity to approach mental life from a variety of perspectives of analysis, aware of sources of theory-bound bias, recognizing and prioritizing the issues in patients’ lives for which psychiatric intervention is appropriate and potentially beneficial.

Clerkship Director

Vinay Parekh, MD

  • Director of the Core Clerkship in Psychiatry, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Associate Clerkship Director

Avi Gerstenblith, MD

  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


Shanetha Thomas
Medical Training Program Manager
Email: [email protected]

Time Commitment and Clerkship Length

This clerkship runs for four weeks, and is always paired with the core clerkship in Neurology to complete an eight-week core.

Clinical Sites for this Clerkship

  • Johns Hopkins Hospital, General Hospital Psychiatry consultation and Meyer Psychiatry Units - View map
  • Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Acute Psychiatry Unit - View map
  • Johns Hopkins Howard County Medical Center - View map (PDF)

More on Psychiatry

Learn more about the education programs in Psychiatry.