New Initiatives in Psychiatric Medical Education
As a leader in medical education, the Department of Psychiatry continues to find innovative ways to integrate neuroscience into clinical practice and prepare students for medical models of the future.
The Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine is committed to providing its medical students with a window into the practice of psychiatry in the 21st century. Recently, our new Director of Medical Student Education, Antonia S. New, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, has introduced two new education initiatives designed to give students a foundation for excellence in managing mental illness today.
“The state-of-the-art information that students receive in our program is essential to all future physicians whether they choose to pursue a career in psychiatry or another area of medicine,” says Dr. New.
Integrating Neuroscience into Clinical Practice
Our primary new focus in education is to incorporate the clinical practice of psychiatry with recent findings in neuroscience. Together, with the Department of Neurology, we now offer an integrated neuroscience sequence for third-year medical students in psychiatry.
The purpose of this program is to provide students with an expanded and content-enriched education in neuroscience during their psychiatry and neurology clerkship experiences. They will also have an opportunity to participate in a month of individually-tailored electives such as neuroradiology, neurosurgery, neuropsychological assessments, deep brain stimulation and transcranial magnetic resonance stimulation for the treatment of psychiatric illness.
“While the third-year clerkship is the most pivotal time for integrating neuroscience, we begin introducing the concept earlier and are now incorporating it into all aspects of our teaching philosophy,” says Dr. New.
For example, we are constantly adapting the second-year Brain and Behavior Course, which is taught by Carrie L. Ernst, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, to include new knowledge about the neurobiological basis of psychiatric illness. Dr. Ernst is actively collaborating with faculty from the Departments of Neuroscience and Neurology in these educational efforts. We also teach MD/PhD students about mental illnesses when they return from the laboratory to clinical rotations. Our faculty is very active in educating neuroscience PhD students about the mental illnesses seen in psychiatric clinical settings.
Introducing Future Medical Models
Another focus of our new curriculum is to prepare students for medical models that will deliver superior psychiatric treatment to patients such as medical homes — a patient-centered, team approach to care that involves a close relationship with primary care physicians. Our teaching philosophy focuses on educating non-psychiatrists to recognize mental illness in their patients, treat those illnesses and refer patients to specialized psychiatric care when appropriate.
As part of this new initiative, the Department of Psychiatry is participating in a third-year clinical learning experience called Interactive Ambulatory Care Tract (InterACT), in participation with the departments of medicine, geriatrics and pediatrics. InterACT is a longitudinal clinical experience that educates students in the foundations of ambulatory medicine and chronic illness care.
“This program helps develop students who are committed to the practice of longitudinal patient-centered care and educates them to navigate the health care system’s concerns that arise in light of the social, economic and cultural factors that impact the care of chronic illness,” explains Dr. New.
In the psychiatry component of InterAct, students work under the close mentorship of an attending psychiatrist in various outpatient settings. Placements include a Day Treatment Program for the care of the seriously mentally ill, the World Trade Center Clinic, which provides primary care and mental health care to individuals affected by the 9/11 tragedy, and the Jack Martin Clinic, a primary care and consultation liaison psychiatry setting for individuals infected with HIV.