The Department of Psychiatry plays a major role in the education of Stony Brook medical students. Not only do we impart the foundations of clinical psychiatry, but we are involved in the overall education of our future physicians. Increasingly, both patients and physicians are realizing the critical interplay between mind and body in health and illness. As well, the art of medicine, which consists to a large degree in communication and interpersonal skills, is greatly enhanced by psychiatric expertise that all physicians should strive to master. With these principals in mind, the Department of Psychiatry is deeply involved in required medical student courses throughout the 4 years at Stony Brook Medical School.
In the first year, Psychiatry and Family Medicine join to present the Introduction to Human Behavior Course. The fact that Family Medicine is involved owes to the above stated need to integrate psycho-social expertise into the clinical care of all medical patients, not only those with primary psychiatric diseases. The course covers normal development from childhood through geriatric years including death and dying. Emphasis is placed on the family and social networks and how each individual is defined by these contexts. Both large lecture and small groups are utilized. Recently, we have added simulated cases played by acting students in our university. These cases demonstrate the interplay between social, family, and personal psychological issues and medical illnesses that are impacted by them, such as asthma.
In the second year, Psychiatry and Neurology join together in the Clinical Neuroscience course. Students learn the pathology and pathophysiology of the major mental illness, including pharmacology related to these illnesses. Again, both large lecture and small group formats are utilized in this highly successful course.
The third year brings the traditional Psychiatry Clerkship. Students are assigned to either Stony Brook University Hospital, Nassau University Medical Center Hospital, or the Northport VA. Through exposure to inpatient psychiatry, psychiatric emergency room, psychiatric consultation to medical and surgical services, and inpatient child psychiatry, Stony Brook students get superb clinical experience and training from an outstanding faculty, residents, and fellows. The focus of this clerkship is training all students to recognize and evaluate the major psychiatric disorders, and the basics of pharmacological as well as behavioral treatments for these disorders.
Finally, we offer a unique, required fourth year course called Psychiatry in Medicine. Students spend two weeks in small groups attending seminars in areas including behavioral medicine, palliative care, sleep disorders, sexual dysfunction, pain management, developmental disabilities, and other areas of importance to all physicians in daily practice. The course is taught by senior faculty in a highly interactive way. Students are able to reflect on their clinical experiences prior to the course and learn how to employ psychiatric principles and expertise into the comprehensive care of their future patients, and how these skills can impact tremendously on the outcome of the medical illnesses they are treating. This course has become a model for many other schools since it's inception in 1999, and is one of the most popular courses here at Stony Brook University School of Medicine.