Greetings, and welcome to the University of North Carolina Forensic Psychiatry Residency Program! As a recent graduate of the UNC forensic psychiatry training program, I want to take a moment to discuss our training program from a resident’s perspective. The UNC program is the state’s only forensic psychiatry residency program and is currently accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Each year, the program accepts up to two resident for its twelve-month educational and training experience.
The residency year at UNC is divided into two six-month blocks. One block involves working at the Federal Medical Center (located in nearby Butner) four days per week, with the fifth day spent at Central Regional Hospital. At the Federal Medical Center, residents have the opportunity to conduct federal criminal forensic evaluations under the guidance of forensic faculty. In addition, residents also provide psychiatric inpatient treatment and attend a weekly seminar series. At Central regional Hospital, residents perform state criminal forensic evaluations under faculty supervision as well as attend various lectures and seminars.
The second block involves working at the University of North Carolina Hospitals, Central Regional Hospital and Central Prison (located in Raleigh). At UNC Hospitals, residents spend time in the Forensic Psychiatry Program & Clinic. This service focuses on performing civil forensic evaluations, with mainly adult evaluations. Residents also have the opportunity to learn the details of research methodology while rotating through the UNC Forensic Psychiatry Program & Clinic; fellows take on a research project during the course of their year in forensic training, with the goal that their research be presented at the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Annual Meeting or submitted for publication. At Central Regional Hospital, residents continue their work conducting criminal forensic evaluations and attending seminars. At Central Prison, residents gain exposure to the treatment of inmates in a state-operated correctional facility, working as a member of the psychiatric treatment team.
A real strength of the UNC forensic psychiatry residency program is the diversity of educational and training experiences offered. The program is unique in that it provides significant exposure to both the state and federal criminal justice systems, allowing the residents to gain a broad understanding of the criminal forensic evaluation process at both levels. To complement the criminal forensic component, UNC has two separate services dedicated to providing civil forensic training to fellows. The topics addressed in these two UNC clinics cover a wide array of civil forensic issues, such as medical malpractice, fitness for duty, custody assessment, independent medical evaluation, testamentary capacity, dangerousness, right to refuse treatment and parental competency. In addition to the diversity offered with respect to criminal and civil forensic evaluation topics, the UNC program allows the fellows to provide psychiatric inpatient treatment in both a state psychiatric hospital setting and a correctional environment, thereby offering a nice mix of evaluation and treatment during the fellowship year.
With regard to the work schedule, fellows typically work from 8am – 5pm Mondays through Fridays; there is no overnight, weekend or holiday call duty for forensic psychiatry residents at UNC (which is great!).
Every year, the training program pays for its current residents to attend the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Annual Meeting as well as the associated Forensic Psychiatry Review Course. The fellows are excused from any work-related duties during the week of this meeting.
I hope the information provided in this letter gives you a better picture of the UNC forensic psychiatry residency program. If you have any further questions regarding the program or would like to discuss the application process, please do not hesitate to contact the program for more information.
Joseph Williams, M.D.
UNC Forensic Psychiatry Fellow, 2009-2010