Psychiatry

The Department of Psychiatry’s faculty, clinicians, and staff are deeply committed to providing excellent care to the diverse populations served by Boston Medical Center, the Boston Veterans Administration Health System, and our Community Health Center partners. The department is also committed to training students, interns, residents, and fellows that help people from anywhere in the world. We provide addiction treatment, emergency psychiatric services, child and adolescent services, adult services, and global and local research programs. Our programs focus on mitigating the social determinants of health and providing culturally sensitive care, training, and research.

Research Programs

Our department conducts a wide range of research including basic science, clinical trials, qualitative and mixed-methods research, epidemiologic research, epigenetic research, community-based participatory research, and ­biobank initiatives. We are dedicated to providing research training and mentorship opportunities for our psychiatry residents, medical students, public health, and other graduate students, and undergraduates. We recognize the critical, bidirectional relationship between research and clinical care, as our research informs ongoing development of evidence-based practices and clinical experiences guide research interests and priorities. Through research, we seek to advance our understanding of the causes of and risk factors for psychiatric illnesses; to facilitate the development of more effective diagnostic, treatment, and prevention strategies for a wide array of psychiatric disorders; and improve the quality and accessibility of our mental health services. The Department of Psychiatry’s research initiatives encompass a wide variety of specialties, including maternal and child mental health, serious mental illnesses, veterans’ health and PTSD, addictions, Alzheimer’s disease, refugee health, global psychiatry, depression, and serious mental illnesses. We have expertise in a range of research methodologies including basic science, clinical trials, qualitative and mixed-methods research, epidemiologic and epigenetic research, community-based participatory research, and biobanking. As the number one safety net hospital in the greater Boston area, our research is also strongly informed by BMC’s unique patient population which is extremely ethnically and racially diverse. To understand the mental health needs of our patients, we engage in research initiatives on refugee health, the intersection of culture and mental health, torture survivors, and the mental health impact of experiences of violence and racial discrimination. In our diverse local community, our researchers explore the myriad of intersections of culture and mental health. We apply a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the complex mental health needs of our patients, in both global and local contexts. We are engaged in research projects in more than 15 countries in Africa, Asia, South America, and the Middle East. Through this research, we hope to build a more robust understanding of these historically marginalized and understudied populations in order to provide more effective and informed care.

Clinical Programs

We provide exceptional clinical care without exception to patients of all ages and backgrounds using therapeutic modalities most appropriate to the patients’ needs and provided by specialists in the field and by trainees under the supervision of outstanding practitioners and teachers. The major services of the Department of Psychiatry include Emergency Psychiatry Programs, Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, Adult and Child Outpatient Mental Health Services, Mother and Child Mental Health, Criminal Justice Mental Health Programs, Refugee and Human Rights Services, Victim Assistance and Mental Health Recovery Services, and Peer Support Programs.

Medical Education

In the first week of class at BUSM, students begin to learn the basics of performing a clinical interview with real patients in Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM-1). ICM-1 provides students with the opportunity to begin to develop clinical interviewing skills by interviewing patients and observing peers interviewing patients. Afterwards, students discuss the patients with their small groups, provide feedback to one another, and practice delivering case presentations.

The Human Behavior in Medicine (HBM) course in the first year is designed to provide knowledge of human behavior important to the treatment of patients and their families. While an understanding of disease and its treatment are integral to medical care, understanding the patient as a person who suffers from an illness—including their background, their culture, their beliefs, and their values—is part of being an effective physician.

In Year 2, students participate in DRx Psychiatry, a course designed to provide students with knowledge of the range of psychiatric disorders they may encounter in their professional lives as physicians, the pharmacology of common psychiatric medications, and the array of therapeutic modalities available. The DRx course is also intended to help prepare students for their third-year clerkship in psychiatry.

As part of the six-week Psychiatry Clerkship in Year 3, students will have the opportunity to participate in the provision of psychiatric services at one of our 14 locations in Boston and the surrounding area. Students serve as integral parts of the treatment team, evaluating and helping manage patients. Placement sites include inpatient, outpatient, consult liaison, and emergency department services. Students spend each Thursday during the clerkship back at the medical school for didactics and psychiatry department grand rounds. The didactic component of the clerkship includes a set a core seminars covering foundational topics, as well more experiential and interactive experiences such as a tour of a correctional facility, attendance at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, experience in a simulation center, and an ethics journal club.

In Year 4, a number of advanced psychiatry electives are offered including Psychosomatic Medicine, Addiction Psychiatry, Acute Psychiatry in Managed Care, Adolescent Psychiatry, Partial Hospitalization Psychiatry, and Preparing Future Physician Educators: Learning How to Teach Clinical Interviewing Skills to First-Year Medical Students.

Residency

The training program in the Boston University Medical Center Psychiatry Residency Program is designed to provide a breadth of knowledge of psychiatry, neurology, neuroscience, psychotherapies, and psychopharmacology. An integrated bio-psycho-socio-cultural model forms the basis of our approach. Our educational program progresses across four years of training from the basics in the PGY 1 year through advanced courses in the PGY 4. Educational programs include research opportunities, core seminars, and special programs, as well as multiple learning opportunities with clinical rotation including rounds, clinical case conferences, and case-based learning for residents to learn about patient evaluation, psychopathology, and treatments.

Fellowships

There are four fellowship opportunities available within the Department of Psychiatry at Boston University: Addiction Psychiatry, Community Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine, as well as the Boston University Medical Campus-Massachusetts General Hospital Global Psychiatric Clinical Research Training Program (BUMC-MGH GPCRTP). The core training sites include Boston Medical Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital/ Bedford VA, Bournewood Hospital, Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center, Boston University on the Charles River Campus, The Danielsen Institute, and Center for Anxiety & Related Disorders. The Department of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine is nationally recognized for its strength in Addiction Psychiatry, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Cross Cultural and Community Psychiatry, and Psychiatry Services to a diverse community.