Course Catalog

Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Courses       9 Clerkships

Laura Roberts , MD

Department web site:

Faculty of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences:

Courses offered by the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences are listed under the subject code PSYC on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.

The Department offers a wide range of learning opportunities in psychiatry and behavioral sciences (including neuroscience, social science, and sleep medicine). The continuum of multidisciplinary learners spans: college students; medical students; psychiatry residents and fellows; clinical psychology predoctoral interns, doctoral candidates, and postdoctoral fellows; and research postdoctoral scientists. Faculty members and community clinicians are also learners through the Continuing Medical Education program and faculty development programs.

Educational approaches are often personalized, experiential, and mentored. For example, a college student may pursue a senior project with a professor and a psychiatric resident receives weekly, individual supervision from a faculty psychiatrist.

Those in clinical training have a curriculum that comprehensively covers the clinical foundations of psychiatry (e.g., diagnosis, treatment, prevention) followed by specialization, scholarly work, and innovation in one of the following five Departmental mission areas

1. Advancing Science

2. Clinical Innovation

3. Educational Excellence

4. Community Engagement and Commitment

5. Leadership and Professionalism

In sum, a personalized and inclusive model of education is pursued across the continuum of multidisciplinary learners that nurtures development and innovation in psychiatry and behavioral sciences.


Psychiatry and behavioral sciences are taught during both the pre-clerkship and clerkship parts of medical school. Pre-clerkship instruction is offered to first and second year students in the Practice of Medicine course. The first part, taught in year 1, explores the psychological effects of physical diseases, the doctor-patient relationship, human development, patient interviewing, ethical issues in medicine, and substance abuse. The second part, taught in year 2, examines the major psychiatric syndromes including psychotic, mood and anxiety disorders, through a series of lectures and clinical preceptorships on the psychiatric inpatient units. Diagnostic criteria, signs and symptoms, as well as course, treatment, and prognosis are reviewed along with biological and psychosocial knowledge of each psychiatric syndrome.

Clerkships in the third and fourth years of medical school offer clinical instruction in outpatient and inpatient settings. They are designed to teach students how to conduct a diagnostic assessment (including the mental status examination) and to use standardized criteria for the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders. Treatment methods include individual, group, and family psychotherapies; psychoactive medications; procedures including electroconvulsive, transcranial magnetic, and vagus nerve stimulation therapies; and coordination with multidisciplinary teams in healthcare systems.

Advanced psychiatric clerkships includes ones that enable students to recognize and manage common psychiatric disorders in medical/surgical practice and understand the physical diseases that can cause signs and symptoms of mental disorder; diagnose and treat special psychiatric disorders such as disorders of children, substance abuse, sleep disorders, and psychiatric emergencies; or become involved in biological, psychological, and social research of psychiatric disorders. Directed reading and research opportunities are available under the direction of individual faculty members.

A complete list of clinical clerkships may be found in the School of Medicine Course Catalog at


The Residency Program in Psychiatry comprehensively nurtures the career development of psychiatric physicians. In addition to becoming thoroughly competent clinicians, residents are helped to develop an area of special knowledge or skill. Residents are encouraged to explore opportunities for individualized research and learning under faculty supervision and mentoring.

Residents may join this four-year, training program in the first or second year. The major training sites are the Stanford Hospital and Clinics and the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center. Other clinical training sites include Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Vaden Student Health, and Kaiser Permanente Medical Center. The essentials of clinical psychiatry are taught through graded responsibility, conferences, small interactive groups, and teaching rounds at each center.

Work in an area of scholarly concentration chosen by the resident begins in the second year. In the fourth year, residents elect specialized experiences and/or research tailored to their individual interests. Following residency, subspecialty training in child and adolescent psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and geriatric psychiatry are offered.


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