Introduction to psychiatry

Director: Dr. Katharine Black

To become a psychiatrist, completion of four years of medical school training plus five years of residency is required. During your medical school training at Dalhousie you will be introduced to the Department of Psychiatry. Undergraduate teaching in the department focuses on highlighting the significance of biopsychosocial factors in normal human development and in illness, enabling students to recognize psychiatric disorders and how to treat these disorders within their competence, or refer the patient for psychiatric investigation and management.

MED 1: First-Year Medicine - Basic Clinical Skills

During first year, students are introduced to fundamental principles in the study and practice of medicine. This includes supervised sessions interviewing psychiatric patients for the purpose of developing basic assessment and communication skills. Formal psychiatric teaching and clinical experiences begin in second year.

MED 2: Second-Year Medicine - Clinical Psychiatry

In second year, psychiatry is incorporated into the Neuroscience Unit along with neuroanatomy, neurology and neurophysiology. The psychiatry component focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and biopsychosocial understanding of major psychiatric disorders through lectures and case-based learning. During this unit, students also attend weekly Skilled Clinician 2 sessions during which they practice psychiatric assessment skills with patients.

MED 3: Third-Year Medicine - Clinical Clerkship

During the Psychiatry Unit, clerks will complete a six-week rotation which includes a variety of inpatient and outpatient clinical experiences providing exposure to a range of psychiatric disorders.

Rotations are offered in the Halifax Regional Municipality, as well as at other affiliated sites including Fredericton, Miramichi, Moncton, Saint John, Upper River Valley, Amherst, Charlottetown, Sydney, Truro, Kentville and Windsor.

Teaching sessions on a range of topics occur weekly in the form of didactic lectures, online self-directed modules, clinical vignettes and interactive discussion.

MED 4: Fourth-Year Medicine - Clinical Clerkship

Med 4 consists of a scheduled block designed for clerks to participate in 18 weeks of elective time; there are numerous opportunities for psychiatric electives during this period. Also, clerks will complete a three-week rotation in Care of the Elderly (CoE). Vacation time and CaRMS interviewing time can be scheduled around the clinical rotations.


Electives are offered in MED 1, MED 2, and MED 4. A wide variety of clinical and research elective experiences are available. Students are also encouraged to inquire about possible opportunities in subject areas that interest them that may not be listed.

Undergraduate Elective Options - Adult Psychiatry [PDF - 831KB]
Undergrad Elective Options - Child and Adolescent Psychiatry [PDF - 122KB]


Canadian medical students, in their preclerkship years, are welcome to apply to the Department to complete a clinical observership in psychiatry. Students interested in an observership are to contact the departmental undergraduate coordinator and are responsible for applying to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia (CPSNS) to obtain an observership permit. Approval from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia must be received before an observership can commence. Observerships are considered non-credit experience and can only be accepted if they do not interfere with core programming and electives.


Email: Psych.Undergrad@dal.ca