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Special Topics in Psychiatry (PSYT90094)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 18.75Online and On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codePSYT90094
August - Online
August - On Campus
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This is one of two capstone subject options, taught in the final semester of the Master of Psychiatry course. As such, it aims to help students integrate the diverse knowledge and skills acquired in the previous five semesters to prepare them for their transition to professional practice.

Psychiatrists have diverse professional roles apart from their core clinical role. They require up-to-date knowledge and skills in, amongst other areas:

  • the evaluation and conduct of research
  • mental health services policy, economics and service provision
  • administration and team and service leadership
  • teaching of medical students, psychiatry trainees and students of other disciplines, including the skills of supervision and mentorship
  • psychiatric ethics
  • the medicolegal dimensions of psychiatry, including mental health legislation
  • community engagement, e.g., advocacy for mental health care; involvement in public education and debate about mental health issues; the mental health needs of diverse social and cultural groups; the public communication of psychiatric knowledge
  • working constructively with other disciplines engaged in mental health care
  • promotion of the health and well-being of themselves, their colleagues and co-workers

This subject aims to address these needs by building on and revisiting the material of the previous five semesters (and on the students’ developing clinical experience); and by using diverse teaching methods to promote integration of this knowledge, a more sophisticated understanding and greater competence.

The teaching period itself consists of 12-half day attendances, each half day consisting of two sessions. The 24 sessions will address the diverse topics listed above, will do so in a variety of ways and will involve invited experts relevant to each topic. For some sessions, small groups of students will be assigned to prepare and contribute, every student having one opportunity to do so during the semester.

A variety of formats are used, including: debates; expert panels; mock trials; updates of several fields and subspecialties by relevant experts; presentations by leading researchers about their own research career in psychiatry, but also discussing how to get published and how to advance one’s own career; registrars presenting their own experience of research. History, social sciences, literature and film will be employed selectively to help develop perspectives on the achievements as well as the errors and abuses of psychiatry, and the challenges and opportunities facing the profession.

Psychiatric research will be addressed in several ways. For some students, the Master of Psychiatry (342AA) is a prelude to a research higher degree and this subject will facilitate their transition. For all students, staying abreast of research is fundamental to good professional practice, and this subject will address the critical evaluation of research, literature searches and topic reviews.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students will:

1. Understand more fully the diverse roles of the psychiatrist

2. Know the range of skills needed to competently fulfil these roles.

3. Know how they can further develop those competencies in their forthcoming professional lives. Students will have greater clarity about what profile – or mix - of particular roles they wish to emphasise in their own early career (eg, clinician vs researcher vs administrator), and will have gained useful knowledge of ways to acquire skills relevant to those roles (e.g., relevant people who can guide them, courses, training opportunities etc.)

These objectives and the course content directly address all five course level outcomes:

  1. They will encourage students to become critical thinkers and pursue lifelong learning and self-directed professional development.
  2. They will provide education about the specific attitudes, knowledge and skills needed to effectively work in the area of mental health.
  3. They promote research and critical evaluation in clinical practice.
  4. They will provide students with a broad understanding of the cultural differences that exist in our community and their relationship to its individuals and mental illness

They will facilitate the professional development of students by providing opportunities to engage in critical discussion of the scientific literature or clinical psychiatry with their colleagues and with lecturers who are experts in the field.

Generic skills

On completion of this unit students will have the knowledge and skill to:

1. Describe and discuss the diverse roles of the psychiatrist

2. Discuss the role of the profession within the arena of mental health care (and health care more generally), including having core knowledge of the history of the profession , of its interrelationships with other professions, disciplines and organisations and of challenges and opportunities facing the profession at present and in the near future

3. Further develop the competencies required for professional practice once they become psychiatrists

Last updated: 19 June 2019