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Medical College of Wisconsin Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral - Medical Student Education Program

Considering a Career in Psychiatry?

Psychiatrists are physicians who are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Mental disorders range vastly from the very severe and life-threatening to the mild and self-limiting.

Though psychiatry is one of the oldest medical specialties, it is also one of the frontier disciplines in medicine.

Recent advances in the neurosciences have led to promising new technologies in the diagnosis and treatment of many psychiatric disorders.

Psychiatry is the fourth largest specialty with more than 45,000 psychiatrists in the United States.

The average full-time psychiatrist works less than 50 hours per week and earns about $200,000 annually. Most psychiatrists spend the majority of their time seeing patients in the outpatient setting. Psychiatrists also take care of patients in the hospital, partial hospital, and residential settings.

Like other physicians, psychiatrists may work in an employed or self-employed capacity. If employed, they may work for medical schools, healthcare organizations, or governmental agencies (e.g., Veterans Administration, state hospitals, and community mental health centers). If self-employed, they may work in solo practice or in group practices.

Check out PsychSIGN, the Psychiatry Student Interest Group Network.

Program Director Message

Psychiatry is a spectacularly interesting field of medicine, filled with promise and challenge. It is the privilege of the department’s faculty, post-graduate trainees, and staff to introduce medical students to this discipline.

Medical students will have required coursework in their M1 and M2 years and a required clinical clerkship in their M3 year. For those interested students, more advanced clinical opportunities are available in the M4 year in the form of sub-internships and elective experiences.

Marika I. Wrzosek, MD

Marika I. Wrzosek, MD
Associate Professor
Director, Medical Student Education Program

Learn more about Dr. Wrzosek

Medical Student Psychiatry Curriculum

M1 Foundations of Human Behavior
Foundations of Human Behavior explores normal psychological, cognitive, interpersonal and behavioral development across the lifecycle – from birth to death. The contributions of Erik Erikson, Jean Piaget and other prominent developmental psychologists will be considered. Instructional methods will include didactic lectures, small group discussions and audio response system (ARS) questions.

M2 Neuropsychiatry Unit
The psychiatry portion of this unit will introduce medical students to common psychiatric disorders, as well as other subjects relevant to the practice of psychiatry and other areas of medicine. Medical students will learn how to perform and document a mental status examination, a skill they will require on their M3 clinical clerkships and in future clinical work. Medical students will also learn how to exhibit compassionate behaviors and professional attitudes toward patients with mental illness. Finally, this component will prepare medical students for USMLE 1 as related to “psychopathological disorders, processes, and their evaluation.”
M3 Electives

Addiction Psychiatry
M3 Addiction is a 4-week elective. Given the prevalence of addiction, this elective is offered to students who seek to deepen their understanding of addiction in an ambulatory setting at the Zablocki VA Medical Center. Students will work in a multidisciplinary team including addiction psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and social workers.

Recovery Model and Psychiatry
M3 Recovery Model and Psychiatry is a 2-week elective where students get a chance to immerse themselves in a healthcare world emphasizing the Recovery Model which includes person-centered, holistic, strength based, responsible, peer-supported, non-linear, empowering and hopeful working with a multidisciplinary team at the Zablocki VA Medical Center working with in an outpatient setting, inpatient, residential, urgent care, and a variety of homeless programs. The goal of this elective is for students to embrace the Recovery Model and become a Recovery Advocate.

Community-Based Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
M3 Community-Based Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is a 2-week elective.

Intro to Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Intro to Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is a 2-week elective.

M3 Psychiatry Clerkship

The third year medical student clerkship at the Medical College of Wisconsin is a four week rotation, working with psychiatrists and other mental health providers at Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Wisconsin, Froedtert Menomonee Falls Hospital, Rogers Hospital, Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division, Columbia St. Mary's-Ozaukee and the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center. The clinical settings for the rotation include a wide variety of opportunities. Students may be assigned to assist attending psychiatrists in the following settings:

  • Inpatient psychiatric units. Students work in either an adult or child and adolescent inpatient unit. The inpatient settings include the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center, Rogers Memorial Hospital, Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division, and Froedtert Menomonee Falls Hospital, Columbia St. Marys-Ozaukee Campus.

  • Psychiatry consult liaison teams, which serve patients at Froedtert Hospital and at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center.

  • Emergency Psychiatry. Students can work at the Milwaukee County Psychiatric Crisis Service, a full service psychiatric emergency department, where they have the opportunity to assess and manage emergent psychiatric conditions.

  • Outpatient psychiatry clinics. Several of the sites include weekly outpatient clinic experiences for the students. There is also a rotation for students to work full time in an outpatient clinic at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center.

Students receive instruction and work alongside psychiatrists at each site. Students also receive a series of didactic lectures by adult and child psychiatrists. The clinical experiences and lectures together help teach students to recognize the difference between emotional problems and mental illness, demonstrate the ability to perform a psychiatric interview that will lead to a formulation of the problem and method of intervention, list major psychiatric diagnostic entities and apply them to case histories, learn about psychotropic medications, learn different modalities used in hospitals to treat patients, and demonstrate the ability to talk with ease to patients who have emotional problems, and effectively manage psychiatric emergency situations.

M4 Senior Electives
Adolescent Psychiatry
Clinical work in this elective will include working on a child and adolescent unit at Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division, closely following several of the inpatients as part of a multi-disciplinary team. Much of the day is spent with the psychiatric nursing staff within the milieu program, as well as being involved in assessments, group therapy, treatment planning and supervision by the unit psychiatrists. Patient census is higher in the months of September through May. You will gain a greater understanding of child and adolescent psychopathology and its treatment. You will improve your knowledge involving child and adolescent developmental issues and gain experience working within a multi-disciplinary team format.

Adolescent Residential Treatment
M4 Adolescent Residential Treatment. This elective deals with struggling adolescents and young adults with psychiatric illness such as anxiety, mood disorders, eating disorders, ADHD and many others. FOCUS Adolescent Residential Treatment Unit is at Rogers Memorial Hospital’s Oconomowoc Campus serving youth ages 13-17 with a multidisciplinary approach to patient care in a longer term (average length of stay is 2 months). Students will actively participate in treatment.

Consult-Liaison Psychiatry
The Psychiatric Consultation Service at Froedtert Hospital sees approximately 1,000 new consults an academic year. Medical students will have the opportunity to see new and follow-up cases and in doing so will increase their clinical knowledge of the medically ill psychiatric population, as well as improve interviewing skills. Daily clinical rounds and supervision with attending PM psychiatrists provide a great deal of clinically relevant education as students will see a wide variety of complex patients experiencing significant medical, surgical and psychiatric comorbidity. With patient interaction and clinical rounds, it is expected that students will be able to describe psychiatric illness that occur in the medically ill population or due to the treatment of medical illnesses, as well as describe treatment options available in this population. Medical students will also have the opportunity to work closely with the general adult psychiatry residents (PGY III) and the Psychosomatic Medicine fellow. Weekly psychosomatic clinical case conferences, as well as Department of Psychiatry Grand Rounds, are also mandatory educational experiences for medical students on service.

Emergency Psychiatry
This rotation is useful to all students, and may be especially helpful to those who have defined an interest in psychiatry, emergency medicine, or any of the primary care specialties. It is an experiential-based service where students are permitted to progress at their own pace to the point of being the first contact for patients in crisis. There is extensive one-on-one supervision by the staff psychiatrists. Opportunity also exists for time with the Mobile Crisis Service, Walk-in Clinic, Crisis Line, Observation Unit, and Crisis Respite House in the community for interested students. You will have the opportunity to enhance your diagnostic interviewing skills focusing on acuity and the acute precipitant, gain familiarity with techniques of crisis intervention, and expand your understanding of laws regarding involuntary psychiatric hospitalization, and improve familiarity with community resources.

Pediatric Psychiatry
Students will observe and perform inpatient and outpatient psychiatric consultations on children and adolescents. You will be expected to write-up at least two psychiatric cases. You will attend weekly rounds and a weekly consult/liaison case conference. You will also be expected to do a literature review and a short talk on a topic of interest. Goals: to be able to perform a mental status assessment on children and adolescents, to develop knowledge and skill in differential psychiatric diagnoses in children and adolescents with pediatric psychiatry illnesses. To develop the skill of presenting a case and increase knowledge of literature. And lastly, to develop compassion for children and adolescents without over-involvement and appreciate the impact on families of pediatric psychiatry disorders.

Psychiatry Acting Internship
Students in this rotation have daily one-to-one interaction with faculty. They may participate in student lectures series and in ongoing psychopharmacology drug studies. They will gain inpatient psychiatry experience working in a team-oriented system and operating in a more independent capacity in the evaluation of patients.
MCW Visiting URM Student Elective Program

Contact us to learn more!

Kristine James

Education Program Coordinator

(414) 955-8992


Adrienne Parnon, MBA

Education Program Coordinator II