Note on didactics
Didactics emphasize the development of fundamental skills of diagnostic interviewing, case formulation, and psychotherapeutic intervention through active exercises with patients, observation of faculty and peers, and repeated critiques of interactions with patients. Three clinically-based streams of core teaching focus upon the psychiatric interview and formulation; psychodynamic principles in intervention and treatment; and evidence-based psychotherapies based upon behavioral and, especially, cognitive-behavioral methods.
Core knowledge and critical thinking skills are addressed in the major seminars labeled “Introduction to Clinical Psychiatry,” “Psychopathology,” and “Clinical Neurosciences,” where key material is usually encountered more than once, but never in exactly the same way. In many instances, for example, material that has been presented to the resident at the PGY-1 or PGY-2 level will later be presented by the same residents when they reach the PGY-3 and PGY-4 level. Learning by teaching is not only a sound pedagogical tool but a key skill for promoting communication and leadership in team and multidisciplinary environments.
A third feature of our didactic sequence is the liberal use of online and instructional materials collated from existing media. For example, when residents first encounter psychiatric patients as PGY-1’s, they attend a traditional seminar series (i.e., “Introduction to Clinical Psychiatry”) covering major subject areas relevant to their work, but at the same time will be expected to listen repeatedly to a series of core lectures, called the “crash course,” that they will be able to carry on a flash drive and listen to at any time. The intent is to create a user-friendly environment within which residents can immerse themselves in the new subject matter, much as one might do when learning a new language.
Finally, some core subject matter, such as statistics and research design, is learned through a combination of online or media-based learning and individual tutorial instruction from a faculty member.
The following block diagram illustrates the organization of didactics over a four-year period. Courses described below are given on Wednesdays between 8am and 2pm unless designated as “rotation-based,” in which case they are scheduled at the clinical site in accordance with the schedule of activities there, or as “self-study/tutorial,” in which instance tutorial sessions are arranged individually.