Medical students investigate a brain
Duke medical students learn about the brain.

Our undergraduate medical education experience is built around a central goal to ensure the delivery of a cohesive behavioral health curriculum spanning through the MS1 through the MS4 experience.

Given the dynamic structure of our learning environment during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have created a blend of virtual instruction and in-person clinical care.

Read on to learn about the opportunities available to medical students throughout their time at Duke.

The first year of medical school involves learning the basic sciences and applicable principles to help students prepare for their clinical experiences. The Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences presents the majority of our course content during the Body & Disease course in the spring of the MS1 year.

Human Structure & Function

The Human Structure and Function course integrates the disciplines of biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, physiology, histology, gross anatomy, embryology and the neurosciences. This core preclinical course focuses on the scientific principles underlying the structure and function of the human body, thereby providing the foundational knowledge for the practice of medicine and facilitating the incorporation of new scientific knowledge throughout the medical career. Topics pertaining to human disease and injury are incorporated into the curriculum to promote application of course material.

Body & Disease

The Body and Disease course emphasizes the complex interplay between neurological conditions and psychiatric symptoms. We provide educational content on both pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions. Students are introduced to the biopsychosocial model of patient assessment in this course.

Rebekah Jakel
Rebekah Jakel, MD, PhD

Psychiatry Clerkship

During the psychiatry clerkship, medical students are assigned to participate in team-based care of patients in a variety of settings. We offer clinical placements throughout our health system and partnering facilities. Learners may be assigned to clinical teams on acute inpatient psychiatric care services, emergency room psychiatric care services, or consultation and liaison psychiatry hospital-based services.  
Students also participate in a half-day weekly outpatient clinic experience and are assigned to a weekend call shift in the emergency department or inpatient hospitalization. Real-time formative feedback is prioritized throughout the clinical experience. Medical students are valued members of our multidisciplinary care teams and often enjoy learning from our residents and faculty throughout the department. 

Geriatric Psychiatry Selective

This selective provides exposure to the psychiatric care of geriatric patients. Students can rotate through a variety of settings, depending on clinical interests. Settings may include the Memory Disorders Clinic, Duke Outpatient Geriatric Psychiatry Clinic, Inpatient Unit at Central Regional Hospital, Durham Veterans Affairs's Gero-psychiatry Clinic and Geriatric Evaluation and Treatment Clinic.
Students will learn about comprehensive psychiatric evaluation of older patients with a variety of psychiatric diagnoses including mood disorders, dementia, psychotic disorders and personality disorders, usually in the context of significant medical co-morbidity. Students will also learn the bio-psychosocial approach to managing various disorders and will participate in ongoing weekly didactic seminars.

Pediatric Psychiatry Selective

Students will have an opportunity to rotate on our inpatient Pediatric Psychiatry Consultation and Liaison psychiatry service during their pediatric selective. The pediatric psychiatry team provides care to patients in the emergency department as well as all inpatient units throughout Duke Children’s Hospital.
Students will provide care to children and adolescents admitted medically who have psychiatric comorbidities, patients with primary psychiatric conditions and patients with complex neuropsychiatric symptoms. Close collaboration with all hospital-based pediatrics teams is emphasized.
Cerrone Cohen
Cerrone Cohen, MD
Clerkship Director
Medical students participate in scholarly activity during the third year, and Christine Marx, MD, leads the Behavioral Neuroscience Study Program.

Bernard J. Carroll Research Scholarship

We are pleased to offer a competitive third-year medical student scholarship, the Dr. Bernard J. Carroll Research Scholarship in Psychiatry, for a student conducting research under the direction of a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. Scholars will be awarded a $15,000 scholarship for a 10-month research experience. Students will be encouraged to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals.

For more information, please email Third Year Behavioral Neuroscience Program Director, Christine Marx, MD, at, and copy Shelley Holmer, MD, at
Chris Marx
Christine Marx, MD
UME Research Director
Duke medical students have opportunities to participate in sub-internships and electives.

Sub-I Internal Medicine/Psychiatry

This course is an intensive clinical experience in the diagnosis and treatment of acute co-morbid medical and psychiatric disorders requiring inpatient hospitalization. Students participating in this four-week elective based in Duke Hospital are expected to function at intern level, assuming care of a small census of complex patients. The Medicine/Psychiatry faculty on the General Medicine 12 (GenMed 12) service provides direct supervision.
The goal of this elective is to refine and then clinically apply basic knowledge from the fields of internal medicine and psychiatry. Participation at selected case conferences and didactic sessions is expected, and students are invited to attend the intern lecture series during Psychiatry Academic Half-Day and educational offerings in internal medicine, including Intern Report.
Kristen Shirey
Kristen Shirey, MD
Sub-I Internal Medicine Psychiatry Director

Sub-I Inpatient Psychiatry

This course is an intensive clinical experience in the diagnosis and treatment of severe and incapacitating psychiatric disorders. The student is given more clinical responsibility than the comparable second-year inpatient rotation, and patient care responsibilities include management of ward milieu. Treatment approaches emphasizing psychotropic medication, individual and family psychotherapy are part of the clinical experience.
Participation at patient care conferences and didactic lectures is expected. Participants may attend Academic Half Day with residents. Call is taken every fifth night, and the rotation is available at Duke Behavioral Health North Durham at Duke Regional Hospital or at Central Regional Hospital.
Julie Penzner
Julie Penzner, MD
Sub-I Inpatient Psychiatry Director

Addiction Elective

In this elective, students are based at the Durham VA Health Care System’s Substance Use Disorders Clinic. Experiences include diagnostic evaluation, pharmacological management and individual, group and family psychotherapy. Emphasis is placed on motivational interviewing, medication-assisted treatment for alcohol- and opioid-use disorders and understanding the relationships between addictive disorders and other psychiatric and medical conditions. Students function as members of the multidisciplinary treatment team.

Consult-Liaison Psychiatry Elective

The Psychiatry Consultation-Liaison Service offers a clinical experience emphasizing the evaluation and management of psychiatric disorders in the medical and surgical setting. The student performs psychiatric consultations for medical and surgical services under direct supervision of residents and senior staff.
Topics in psychosomatic medicine, psychopharmacology and medico-legal issues are discussed, and unique issues in psychiatric presentations of medical illness and adaptation to illness are reviewed. Students may attend an outpatient psychiatric consultation clinic upon request and pending availability. Students attend the weekly internal medicine-psychiatry conference and Psychiatry Academic Half-Day educational offerings.

Psychiatry Grand Rounds & Conferences

Duke medical students are welcome to join educational opportunities in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, including the weekly Internal Medicine-Psychiatry conference, Chair's conferences, Grand Rounds and Duke University Hospital Inpatient Teaching Rounds.

Psychiatry Student Interest Groups

Students who are interested in exploring careers in psychiatry or combined-psychiatry specialties are encouraged to participate in the Psychiatry Student Interest Group under the mentorship of Damon Tweedy, MD.

Visiting Rotation

Medical students interested in applying for a visiting rotation at Duke must go through the Duke University School of Medicine Office of Visiting Students to review eligibility criteria, complete an application and submit a request.

Learn more about Duke’s residency training programs in Psychiatry and Internal Medicine-Psychiatry.