Psychosomatic Medicine Philosophy

What is Psychosomatic Medicine?

Jonny GerkinThe UNC Psychosomatic Medicine Fellowship Program is an ACGME-accredited one year training program in which Fellows become proficient in the management of all major psychiatric symptoms and disorders in the medically ill. Trainees learn to identify and manage the neuropsychiatric issues of the patient's presentation and develop a skillset that spans assessment, treatment, liaison, systems, and legal and ethical issues.

The fellowship program is designed to train clinicians to become leading educators, administrators, and researchers in the field by providing an intensive and individualized experience that utilizes personalized coaching. Mindfulness guidance and contextual behavioral science-based coaching offers psychiatry trainees an opportunity to serve the psychiatric needs of patients with advanced complex medical and surgical conditions.

The UNC Psychosomatic Medicine fellowship program is designed as an adaptive training program where flexibility of training and practice models allows for a training experience that fits the fellow’s specific scholarly, administrative, and research interests as well as those of the rapidly evolving health-care system.

Jonathan Gerkin, MD
Director, Psychosomatic Medicine Fellowship Program 


What is Psychosomatic Medicine?

Historically, the designation of Psychosomatic Medicine refers to a subspecialty of psychiatry which focuses upon “the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders and difficulties in complex medically ill patients” (Levenson 2005).

In the ever-changing world of modern and complex health care, the Psychosomatic Medicine specialist (also known as a consultation psychiatrist) has a continually expanding role at the interface of medicine and psychiatry. Though previously linked to clinical psychiatric care and education in inpatient medical and surgical settings, Psychosomatic Medicine is now practiced in research, academic, outpatient, community and virtual settings, and often in non-clinical capacities such as policy development and multi-disciplinary program leadership.

An effective practitioner of Psychosomatic Medicine must be able to provide care in emotionally challenging contexts to patients with comorbid psychiatric illness or neuropsychiatric presentations of medical illness (or both) to achieve wellness of mind and body. This specialty emphasizes the mind-body connection or ‘psyche-soma.’