Clerkship Programs

Clerkship Programs

Providing medical students with valuable experiences in the behavioral sciences.

In addition to the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences’ active involvement in teaching in the medical student curriculum, we offer superb clerkships for medical students.

The faculty provides psychiatry instruction throughout years 1 and 2, while psychiatry is one of the required clerkships for students in years 3 and 4.

The required psychiatric clerkship is a six-week course based in various divisions of the department and outside medical facilities. It includes extensive patient contact in inpatient and outpatient settings, psychiatric emergency room experience and a lecture series.

In addition, students may choose psychiatry as an elective or selective clerkship. A wide range of psychiatric elective clerkships are available for medical students who have completed a basic psychiatric clerkship.

Educational Goals and Objectives

Year 1

During year 1, psychiatry is divided into two teaching sessions. In Foundations of Medical Sciences, students learn about human development and lifecycle, as well as grief and dying. The Neurosciences System course offers comprehensive teaching of the major categories in psychopathology, e.g., mood disorders, schizophrenia, substance abuse and anxiety disorders. This instruction is complemented by lectures on psychopharmacology and Standardized Patient Program cases to illustrate practical clinical implications of the lectured material.

Year 3

During the year 3, six-week psychiatry clerkship, students are involved in myriad experiences within specific psychiatric environments ranging from consultation and liaison in a private or public hospital to adult and adolescent inpatient and outpatient settings. Before the start of the academic year, students are contacted by the clerkship coordinator regarding their site preferences.

Other opportunities for students include observing electroconvulsive therapy treatment, participating in cultural competency and ethics workshops with the medical student nurse educator, and, with assistance from the medical student educator, completing the Clinical Reasoning and Reflection Exercise case study/research project as part of the required Clinical Experience Portfolio.

External rotation sites include:

  • Huntington Memorial Hospital
  • Community Hospital Long Beach
  • Gateways Hospital and Mental Health Center
  • Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital

On-campus sites include:

  • Los Angeles General Medical Center consultation-liaison psychiatry
  • Adult and child outpatient psychiatry at Keck Hospital

Some sites include opportunities to visit the Student Counseling Services on the USC University Park Campus.

Medical Students Psychiatry Interest Group

This student-organized interest group for medical students interested in psychiatry meets on regular basis to allow interaction with faculty and discussion of various topics related to psychiatry. Planned activities also include movie nights, patient forums and small group journal club-style discussions.

Research Opportunities

Numerous research projects are available for student involvement throughout medical school, including ongoing research in:

  • Deep-brain stimulation in OCD
  • Dementia
  • Mental health care in minority population
  • Psychiatric genomics
  • Trauma in children
  • Traumatic brain injury

Students may choose laboratory research or more clinically based projects.

Elective Psychiatry Clerkship

If you are a senior U.S. medical student and interested in an elective with our department, please email Mr. David Kurtz (student coordinator) at to ask about the opportunities. Inquiries are welcome.


For more information about clerkships, contact:
David Kurtz
Medical Student Coordinator
(323) 442-4022