The Barriers and Benefits to Developing Forensic Rotations for Psychiatry Residents [2018]

Psychiatry residents’ experiences in forensic psychiatry vary greatly across the country, and many psychiatry programs meet the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education requirements for a forensic experience through general psychiatry rotations (e.g., on a consult-liaison service) or classroom-based activities. Forensic clinical experiences during psychiatry residency are important for preparing future general psychiatrists for practice with justice-involved patients, generating interest in forensic psychiatry, and easing the transition from “healer to evaluator” for future fellows. Unfortunately, residency programs interested in expanding their forensic training may face many challenges because of current regulatory frameworks, the nature of forensic practice, and competing demands within residency training programs. This article describes these challenges, and the experience of the authors at one institution with developing a novel forensic experience in a criminal justice diversion setting. The authors conclude with some practical considerations for educators interested in developing forensic experiences at their institutions.

The American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL) defines forensic psychiatry as a “medical subspecialty that includes research and clinical practice in the many areas in which psychiatry is applied to legal issues,” but adds that “almost all psychiatrists may, at some point, have to work within one of the many areas in which the mental health and legal system overlap.”

Katherine C. Michaelsen, Alan S. Lewis, Peter T. Morgan, Sherry A. McKee and Tobias D. Wasser

Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, September 2018, 46 (3)