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About the Specialty
Psychiatry is the specialty that treats and studies the brain disorders that present with problems of thinking, feeling, and behavior. Psychiatrists work as inpatient hospitalists, outpatient clinicians, and consult-liaison physicians. Psychiatry encompasses psychotic disorders, mood disorders, addictions, developmental disorders, trauma related disorders, anxiety disorder, personality disorders, dementia, and much more.
Answers to Common Questions
- Attributes of a Competitive Student
What factors typically make a student competitive for this specialty?
Evidence of depth of sustained interest. Compassion and heart for patients with psychiatric illness. Academic excellence. Leadership experiences. Advocacy experiences. GHHS or AOA.
How important is research experience in your specialty? If important, does it need to be in the specialty itself?
Research experience is not necessary unless the student is intending a career where research in psychiatry is central.
How can students identify opportunities for shadowing?
Contact the Student Interest Group student leaders for information on shadowing.
What electives would you recommend to a student who is interested in pursuing your specialty?
Students should pursue a diverse experience and explore whatever else they are interested in medicine. It will all be relevant to a career in psychiatry.
Based on your experience, what tips do you have for students to shine on your electives?
Faculty will look for evidence of your interest, involvement with the patients and team, intellectual curiosity, and professionalism.
- Away Rotations
Does your specialty recommend doing away rotations?
Only if there is a specific program or geographical area that the student really wants to match to.
If your specialty recommends doing away rotations, how many “aways” do you recommend?
More than two is generally not feasible or recommended.
If away rotations are necessary, when should they apply and when should they be completed?
Apply as early as possible. Complete the elective before interviewing season is over.
- Interview Timing
Which month do you recommend taking off to interview?
November, December, and January are all fine.
- Letters of Recommendation
How many letters of recommendation are needed to apply to your specialty?
Generally programs want at least three.
Does your specialty recommend that all letters of recommendation be written by members of your specialty?
No. Two should be from psychiatry.
If letters can come from other disciplines, do you have a recommendation as to which disciplines are more highly valued?
One letter should be from a primary care specialty. If the applicant also did very substantial work in research or community service/advocacy a letter from that source is also welcome.
Does the academic rank of the letter writer matter?
Does your specialty require a letter from the chairman?
Not generally. Only a few programs around the country do. Contact our office and we will arrange.
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- American Psychiatric Association
- Association of Directors of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry