Psychiatry Clerkship Course Description

Welcome to the Psychiatry Clerkship! We are confident that, as a result of your completing the clerkship, you will become a better physician in a number of ways. Not only will your interviewing and history-taking skills improve, but your understanding of the "whole patient" will be enhanced as well.

Our website provides a wealth of information and more detail about the clerkship. Take some time to review the Learning Objectives section, based on the UNC SOM core competencies, as well as the Clinical Log section, based on the UNC 96.  These sections outline what you will learn during the clerkship.

The goal of the Psychiatry Clerkship is to provide students with the clinical experiences that will enable them to develop the knowledge base and clinical skills required for the appreciation, identification and management of patients suffering from psychiatric disorders encountered in general medical practice.  The clerkship’s six-week clinical experience offers students opportunities to see a broad variety of patients in inpatient, outpatient and emergency/crisis settings.  Psychiatry faculty and residents supervise students in the evaluation and management of patients--ranging in age from preschool to geriatric--who suffer a broad spectrum of psychiatric and medical disorders. Students also study the full range of treatments utilized in psychiatry, including psychotherapy, psychotropic medications, electroconvulsive therapy, psychosocial interventions and all aspects of care. Students will typically have a clinical “home base” on an inpatient or hospital consultation service where they work as part of a treatment team.  The inpatient experience is augmented by work in outpatient continuity clinic assignments and emergency services.   All students participate in the psychiatry seminar series coordinated at the UNC site (students at other sites participate via live videoconference).  The seminar series addresses a wide variety of topics in adult and child psychiatry with an emphasis on the information which is most pertinent to non-psychiatric physicians. Further instruction such as clinical case conferences and observed psychiatric interviews are arranged at each individual site.  The goals of these educational activities are to help students to hone their interviewing and presentation skills and master a working knowledge of the diagnosis and effective treatment of major psychiatric disorders.

The Department of Psychiatry offers clerkships during all of the eight six-week blocks of the academic year.*

The Psychiatry Clerkship is offered at three clinical sites: UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, and Central Regional Hospital in Butner.

  • UNC Hospitals: 13-15 students
  • Central Regional Hospital (Butner): 3-5 students
  • Carolinas Medical Center (Charlotte): 3-4 students


* Students should consult the official Third Year Calendar for dates of "Free Weeks" and official holidays.


1. UNC Hospitals


At UNC Hospitals, students are assigned to two of seven clinical services which include its six inpatient units and the consult/liaison service. They spend the first three weeks on one service, and the second three weeks on a different service.  On these services students  work with assigned patients who vary in age from childhood to late life and who suffer from a wide range of psychiatric illnesses, including psychotic disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, cognitive impairments, eating disorders, and more. Students participate in all clinical activities related to the evaluation and treatment of their patients, including interviews with families, participation in treatment and planning conferences, and documenting the care of their patients. In addition, students gain clinical experience in continuity outpatient services which they attend weekly throughout the entire rotation. Students also participate in the evaluation of patients with acute psychiatric illnesses in the walk-in clinic and the emergency department. The program supplements the supervised clinical work with seminars and case conferences which expose students to various aspects of psychiatry from a developmental perspective. In addition to supervision provided by attending psychiatrists on the services, each student is paired with an upper-level resident tutor who provides individualized supervised instruction in patient assessment through observed clinical interviews, clinical reasoning, treatment planning and oral presentation skills.


2. Carolinas Medical Center (Charlotte)


Carolinas Medical Center (CMC) is a community-based mental health system which serves a wide range of patients from childhood though late-life. The CMC experience offers students active involvement in its variety of outpatient clinic settings as well as in the initial assessment and treatment of patients in crisis in its very busy Psychiatric Emergency Department. Complementing the outpatient experience are responsibilities on either the adult or adolescent inpatient units where students make important contributions to the care of selected severely ill patients. The Carolinas Medical Center clerkship also provides an introduction to community-based care. Students may visit sites throughout the community where psychiatric medical services are provided--jails, homeless shelters, substance abuse treatment facilities, nursing homes, group homes, etc.  Attending psychiatric physicians work closely with students--as clinical supervisors, as individual preceptors and in small group seminars--helping students to hone their interviewing and presentation skills and master a working knowledge of the diagnosis and effective treatment of major psychiatric disorders. Students assigned to CMC also participate in the core seminar series via teleconference.

Housing for the Carolinas Medical Center rotation is available through the Charlotte AHEC.  Students may view the apartment units and amenities Charlotte AHEC housing is arranged by advance application on a first-come, first-serve basis through AHEC on line (see Off-Campus/AHEC information).

Students may also elect to stay with family or friends or otherwise provide their own housing.


3. Central Regional Hospital (Butner)


At the Central Regional Hospital clerkship site, students gain a longitudinal inpatient experience supplemented by “on-call” emergency experiences and off-site outpatient experiences in community settings and at UNC Hospitals. Students are typically assigned to one of three units on the Adult Admissions Service.  Students are involved in all aspects of patient care including diagnosis, treatment planning, treatment, follow-up, and discharge planning. They work under the direct supervision of an attending physician who closely monitors their work. Every attempt is made to assign students to patients with differing diagnoses, thereby ensuring exposure to patients suffering from a wide range of psychopathology. Students get a great deal of practice in assessment skills in their on-call experiences, where they participate in the evaluation of patients referred for admission. Throughout the rotation students meet with their supervisor weekly in a formal session to present their patients, discuss treatment and management problems, or any theoretical issues. In addition, the student and supervisor often meet on an informal basis through the week as needed. Chief residents are also involved in teaching and students clinical skill development, including direct observation of students. Students are also given the opportunity to spend time with psychiatrists in various clinical sites in the hospital such as geropsychiatry, long-term psychiatric treatment, child/adolescent psychiatry and forensic psychiatry. As noted, weekly outpatient continuity clinic experience in the community and  at UNC augment the clinical experience. CRH students generally spend Tuesdays at UNC clinics.  Students assigned to Central Regional  Hospital at Butner also participate in the core seminar series via teleconference.

Students provide their own transportation. Butner is located approximately 45 minutes from Chapel Hill and is convenient for students residing in the Raleigh and Durham areas.  There is no AHEC housing available.  Ample free parking is available for students.


Need More Information?

Please feel free to call or e-mail with any questions you may have about sites and/or clerkship options.

Erin Malloy, MD
Clerkship Director

Director of Medical Student Education
Director of Advanced Practice Selective and Child/Adolescent Psychiatry Electives
Office: (919) 962-9799

Ms. Myra Daniel
Psychiatry Clerkship Administrator

Psychiatry Education Office: (919) 966-6997

Ms. Daniel’s usual office days are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.


Clerkship Preference Forms

Once you have finalized your clerkship dates, please complete Psychiatry portion of the Preference Form provided by the SOM in one45.  Preference forms will be distributed to the clerkship coordinators through the one45 system.   Please complete ALL information requested in order that we may better select your sites and service assignments.


  • How can I request a specific site/service?

Be sure to rank your choices for clinical sites. We try our best but cannot guarantee that all students will get their first choice.  You may want to complete the box for specific UNC assignments even if UNC is not your top choice. Students who do not express a preference or return the preference form will be randomly assigned to a site.

  • I have an extenuating circumstance and need a specific site. What do I do?

We do consider extenuating circumstances, special needs and requests for placements. There is a space for including this information on the preference form. This information will be considered confidential.

  • When do I find out my clerkship site?

The short answer: check the one45 website and watch your email.

  • Specific ward/service assignments at UNC will be made just before students begin their block. Students at Central Regional Hospital and CMC will get their assignments during their site orientations.