Home  /  Education  /  Medical School, Clerkships, and PsychSIG

Medical School, Clerkships, and PsychSIG

Leadership in Medical Student Education in Psychiatry

Director, Medical Student Education, Professor
Yasmin Owusu
Director, Pre-Clerkship Curriculum in Psychiatry, Assistant Dean for Academic Advising in the SOM, Clinical Associate Professor
Quynh Dang
Clerkship Coordinator
Site Director, Stanford Health Care, Clinical Assistant Professor
Wendy Feng
Site Director, VA Palo Alto Division, Clinical Instructor (Affiliated)
Associate Chair – Director of Education, Professor

Psychiatry Student Interest Group

Psychiatry Student Interest Group, known as PsychSIG, is a group run by medical students who have identified an interest in the field of Psychiatry, with the guidance and support of both a faculty and resident liaison.

We strive to offer a safe place to ask questions, receive support, feel camaraderie, and engage in leadership activities.  We hope to make PsychSIG a visible and sustainable part of the Stanford School of Medicine landscape and would love to hear from you if you are interested in joining!

Our goal is to provide an early community to medical students who are considering a career in Psychiatry. We believe cultivating such a community at the medical student training level is important in order to offer exposure to role models and examples of different career paths, stimulate curiosity and enthusiasm about the field, and support students through the process of deciding on a residency specialty and undertaking the application process.

PsychSIG aims to have a presence at major school events such as the activities fair and second look weekend. Additionally, we typically hold a welcome event in the fall followed by smaller dinners and events throughout the year. We welcome new medical students to become involved in the leadership of PsychSIG and to propose their own ideas for events or initiatives.

We strive to offer a safe place to ask questions, receive support, feel camaraderie, and engage in leadership activities. We would love to hear from you if you are interested in joining!

How do I get involved?

Please contact Dr. Margaret May: margaret.may@stanford.edu

Margaret May, MD
Faculty-Liaison for the Psychiatry Student Interest Group (PsychSIG), Clinical Assistant Professor (Affiliated)
Ellie H. Beam
PsychSIG Co-Lead


Ellie matriculated at Stanford Medical School in 2015 and earned a PhD in the Neurosciences in 2021. Her thesis engineered a data-driven ontology of human brain function through neuroimaging meta-analyses. Ellie has contributed poems to the medical school literary magazine, served as head teaching assistant for the neurobiology course, and co-founded a seminar on psychiatry careers. With an expected MD graduation in 2022, Ellie is applying for a psychiatry residency towards a career as a physician-scientist.

Kristin M. Kennedy
PsychSIG Co-Lead


Kristin is a preclinical medical student at Stanford and a teaching assistant for the Klingenstein class in child and adolescent psychiatry. Kristin is broadly interested in child psychiatry topics, including pediatric preoperative anxiety, pediatric palliative care issues, and psychology of pain and coping in medically ill children.

Shammah I. Ike
PsychSIG Co-Lead


Shammah is a preclinical medical student at Stanford. He is one of the CFC mental health clinic coordinators and a teaching assistant for the Klingenstein class in child and adolescent psychiatry. Shammah is broadly interested in mental health advocacy and working with LGBTQ+, racial minority, and low-income populations.

Courses for Medical Students

PSYC 211: Developmental Psychopathology, Psychotherapy and Psychopharmacology

Common syndromes in child psychiatry. Topics include diagnosis, epidemiology, etiology, course, outcome and therapeutic interventions. Prerequisite: familiarity with the basics of psychiatric and psychological discourse; psychiatry clerkship or course in psychology.

Terms: Aut | Units: 1
Instructors: Joshi, S. (PI)

PSYC 215: Introduction to Psychedelic Medicine

The re-emergence of psychedelics in the academic arena has yielded insights which may profoundly impact our understanding of brain, mind, and the treatment of mental illness. This course will survey ongoing and developing clinical applications and scientific investigations of psychedelics and psychedelic-assisted treatments. Neuroscientific, clinical, and psychological perspectives will be discussed as well as the historical, legal, and cultural aspects of psychedelic medicine. Presentations will be given by the field's scientists and therapists at the front line. Attendees will be able to engage directly with investigators and clinicians in the field during the course. Course may be taken for one unit (lecture, 6pm - 7pm) or students may attend additional discussion section (7pm - 8pm) for two units

Terms: Win | Units: 1-2 | Repeatable for credit
Suppes, T. (PI) ; Glick, G. (SI)

A note from the Stanford Psychedelic Science Group: Hello! We are an interdisciplinary collaboration across departments and levels of the Stanford community intending to elevate the discussion about psychedelic science and medicine. We host speakers and events, produce educational content, and serve as a platform for sharing ideas and resources. We hope to facilitate a rigorous discussion of risks, benefits, and potential avenues of further exploration of psychedelic substances and their effects in the domains of mental health, neuroscience, and beyond. Stay tuned for our website, coming soon. For now, please email Giancarlo Glick gglick@stanford.edu to join the community.

PSYC 223B: Topics in Neurodiversity: Design Thinking Approaches

The course provides essential background about neurodiversity, the design thinking process and the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework to guide students in developing projects that maximize the potential of neurodiversity. Through case studies, field trips, guest speakers, and community engagement, students will explore approaches to maximizing inclusivity in realms such as education, employment, community and beyond. Students will use their knowledge to design and develop (or revising and enhance) processes, systems, experiences and/or products to maximize inclusivity and the potential of neurodiverse individuals. Based on student's interests and areas of focus, projects may include digital tool development such as app concept and design, redesign of standard processes such as job interviews/ candidate evaluations, design and development of physical products or spaces such as sensory-sensitive dorm rooms, "stim tools" and more. Students have the option to attend Monday classes or Wednesday classes for 2 units or attend both Monday and Wednesday classes for 4 units. This course is open to undergraduate and graduate students in all schools.

Terms: Win | Units: 2-4
Fung, L. (PI)

PSYC 225: Mentorship and Clinical Engagement in Child/Adolescent and Adult Psychiatry

A mentoring program designed to expose first and second-year medical students to the rewarding fields of child/adolescent and adult psychiatry, and to increase awareness and education about child/adolescent and adult mental health issues. The early years of medical training consist primarily of didactic instruction, an almost universal challenge for students who enter medicine desiring to help and interact with patients. To increase engagement with the field, we bring clinical psychiatry to preclinical students, by interacting with patients and families, as follows. During our weekly seminar time, we interview a patient and family one week, then offer a debriefing, Q&A session the following week. The seminar includes open discussion, addressing questions about specific interactions with the child/adolescent or adult, diagnoses, and therapies used for treatment. Responses to students¿ questions invariably address evidence-based approaches to assessment and treatment of specific disorder more »

Terms: Aut, Win, Spr | Units: 1 | Repeatable for credit
Instructors: Kishore, A. (PI) ; O'Mara, A. (TA) ; Trimm, E. (TA)

PSYC 229A: Topics in Neurodiversity: Introduction and Advocacy, Part 1

This is part 1 of a year-long course which provides students with the foundation, knowledge, and essential skills for understanding, engaging with, and advocating for the neurodiverse population. In addition, this course will also provide direct instruction to students in the areas of activities of daily living (ADLs), social communication strategies, navigating social relationships, self-regulation, support in accommodations, and support in career development.

Terms: Aut | Units: 1 | Repeatable for credit
Fung, L. (PI) ; Sperry, L. (PI)

PSYC 229B: Topics in Neurodiversity: Introduction and Advocacy, Part 2

This is part 2 of a year-long course which provides students with the foundation, knowledge, and essential skills for understanding, engaging with, and advocating for the neurodiverse population. In addition, this course will also provide direct instruction to students in the areas of activities of daily living (ADLs), social communication strategies, navigating social relationships, self-regulation, support in accommodations, and support in career development.

Terms: Win | Units: 1 | Repeatable for credit
Instructors: Fung, L. (PI) ; Sperry, L. (PI)

PSYC 229C: Topics in Neurodiversity: Introduction and Advocacy, Part 3

This is part 3 of a year-long course which provides students with the foundation, knowledge, and essential skills for understanding, engaging with, and advocating for the neurodiverse population. In addition, this course will also provide direct instruction to students in the areas of activities of daily living (ADLs), social communication strategies, navigating social relationships, self-regulation, support in accommodations, and support in career development.

Terms: Spr | Units: 1 | Repeatable for credit
Instructors: Fung, L. (PI) ; Sperry, L. (PI)

PSYC 233: Mindfulness: An Awareness-Based Stress Reduction Program in Medicine

An experiential program in which the participants learn the techniques of mindfulness meditation and its application in the management of stress and in healthcare. Modeled after the MBSR, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, started by Jon Kabat-Zinn at UMASS Medical Center. Designed to work with the mind/body relationship to stress and chronic illness teaching open sensitive awareness without judgement of mental or physical reactivity. Requirement for the course is the daily practice of mindfulness meditation, attendance at weekly class meetings and the all day retreat, home reading, and a final paper covering the student's observations.

Terms: Aut, Win, Spr, Sum | Units: 3
Instructors: Abramson, M. (PI) ; Spiegel, D. (PI)

PSYC 235: Sleep and Dreams (PSYC 135)

Dr. William Dement created Sleep and Dreams in 1971, the world¿s first university undergraduate-level course on the science of sleep. Now as an emeritus professor, he continues to be actively involved in the course teaching many of the lectures and sometimes driving students to class in his golf cart! The course is designed to impart essential knowledge of the neuroscience of sleep and covers how sleep affects our daily lives. The course covers normal sleep and dreams, as well as common sleep disorders. Course content empowers students to make educated decisions concerning sleep and alertness for the rest of their lives and shapes students' attitudes about the importance of sleep. Students will keep track of their sleep patterns during the course. They will also participate in an outreach project to help improve awareness of the importance of sleep heath in our community. Undergraduates must enroll in PSYC 135, while graduate students should enroll in PSYC 235.

Terms: Win, Spr | Units: 3
Instructors: Pelayo, R. (PI) ; Spain, R. (TA)

PSYC 239: Understanding Relationships: A Couples and Family Therapy Perspective (PSYC 139)

Considers the premises of the family-systems approach to intimate and family relationships, drawing on concepts from psychology, psychiatry, neurobiology, anthropology, and organizational behavior. Examines relationship formation and commitment, intimacy and sexuality, family development and structure, interpersonal conflict and communication, historical patterns and legacies, gender and power, and the cultural and larger systemic contexts of close relationships. Frameworks for assessing relationships and tools for changing romantic, family, and social relationships are examined in detail, and case examples illustrate the relationship change strategies of major contributors to the field. Highlights practical applications of the family-systems approach in educational, medical, business, and community settings. Students do not need to have a background in Psychology or Human Biology, and all student levels are welcome (including GSB, Law, Medicine, GSE for PSYC 239).

Terms: Spr | Units: 4
Instructors: Rait, D. (PI)

PSYC 240: Designing for the 2 billion: Leading Innovation in Mental Health

Nearly 50% of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental illness during their lifetime, and such conditions are expected to be the primary cause of disease burden globally by 2030 (World Health Organization). This course - the first university course on mental health innovation - empowers students of all backgrounds to confront contemporary challenges related to the U.S mental health crisis through curiosity, creativity, and strategy. During the quarter, students will gain foundational knowledge in mental health, develop skills necessary to apply that knowledge to solutions in a practical context, and interface with world-renowned experts in the industry. Students will also appreciate the role of cross-sector partnerships in mental healthcare leadership, and, by extension, develop effective communication, collaboration, and decision-making skills. This is partly facilitated by the course structure, which draws on students, faculty, and resources from across the Universit more »

Terms: Win | Units: 2
Instructors: Vasan, N. (PI) ; Aragam, G. (SI) ; Chan, S. (SI) ; Chaudhary, N. (SI)

PSYC 242: Lab Course

This application only course is the optional lab portion of PSYC 240. This is a higher intensity experience for students who want to apply the knowledge they gain in 240 to building a solution to some of the most pressing problems in mental health. Students will collaborate in multidisciplinary teams to design and launch a mental health intervention with the guidance of expert faculty and mentors to improve clinical validity and scalability of the idea. Interventions will range from designing a wearable device, to creating a school based mental health intervention, to establishing better transitions of care for the incarcerated population. Application can be found TBD and is due December 1st.

Terms: Win | Units: 2
Vasan, N. (PI) ; Aragam, G. (SI) ; Chan, S. (SI) ... more instructors for PSYC 242 »

PSYC 243: Thriving in Collegiate Athletics: Key Concepts in Student-Athlete Health and Wellness

Develops the understanding, self-awareness, confidence, and skills necessary for students to serve as a resource for their athlete peers in the areas of building resilience, promoting well-being, and supporting emotional balance. Examines personal values, athlete identity, signature strengths, self-care and stress management practices, signs and symptoms of common mental health concerns, and barriers for care-seeking in student-athlete population. Develops skills for enhancing personal well-being communication with coaches and teammates, connecting peers with existing resources, and promoting a culture of support, health, and wellness.

Terms: Aut | Units: 2

PSYC 244: Islamic Psychology (PSYC 144)

The first psychiatric hospitals in the world were established as early as the 8th century during the Islamic Golden Era. Despite the emergence of a highly sophisticated and interdisciplinary system of understanding the human psyche in early Islamic history, most students of modern psychology are unfamiliar with this rich history. This course will provide a historical and contemporary review of the Islamic intellectual heritage as it pertains to modern behavioral science and how mental illness was historically perceived and treated in the Muslim world. We will begin with a discussion of Islamic epistemology, reconcile issues such as secular vs sacred sources of knowledge and tackle the mind/body dilemma according to Islamic theology. We will then review holistic schemas of health and pathology in the Islamic religious tradition, the nature of the human being, elements of the human psyche, and principles of change leading to positive character reformation. As Stanford is the academic home of Muslim mental health research globally, we will benefit from talks by guest researchers and speakers, partake in field trips to community partners, and utilize group discussions to provide students with a deeper understanding of these topics.

Terms: Spr | Units: 3 | Repeatable for credit
Instructors: Awaad, R. (PI)

PSYC 250: Methodology of Research in Behavioral Sciences

Statistical and methodological issues in three major psychiatric research themes: clinical psychiatric research (Aut), neuroimaging research (Win), and statistical genetics and general statistical modeling (Spr). Autumn series includes: basics of inferential statistics, group comparison, analysis of variance, regression analysis, multivariate analysis, and longitudinal analysis in the context of psychiatric and behavioral research. Also included are conceptual topics such as risk factors, mediation, moderation, and causal inference. Winter series includes: functional and structural neuroimaging research methods (e.g. functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), structural MRI (sMRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), electroencephalogram (EEG)). Basic principles, statistical analysis methods, advantages and limitations, and applications are discussed. Spring series includes: tests and effect estimation for multi more »

Terms: Aut, Win, Sum | Units: 1-3 | Repeatable for credit
Instructors: Hosseini, H. (PI) ; Jo, B. (PI) ; Kim, J. (PI) ; Saggar, M. (PI)

PSYC 277: Psychiatry and Behavioral Science Perspectives in Medicine

In this lunchtime discussion series (lunch provided), learners will explore a sampling of psychiatry and behavioral science topics relevant to medicine through the perspectives of attending psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and other specialists in behavioral health from a variety of practice and research settings. Some examples of topics are advances in interventional psychiatry, psychopharmacology, and psychotherapy; the interplay between social issues and mental healthcare; and other matters affecting the modern practice of psychiatry. Note of warning, this course discusses sensitive topics in psychiatry including suicide, psychosis, addiction, child abuse, sexual assault, violence, and mental disorders. Priority will be given to MD students.

Terms: Win | Units: 1 | Repeatable for credit
Instructors: Louie, A. (PI) ; James, D. (TA) ; Lebovitz, J. (TA)

PSYC 282: The Literature of Psychosis (ANTHRO 82P, HUMBIO 162L, PSYC 82)

One of the great gifts of literature is its ability to give us insight into the internal worlds of others. This is particularly true of that state clinicians call "psychosis." But psychosis is a complex concept. It can be terrifying and devastating for patients and families, and yet shares characteristics with other, less pathological states, such as mysticism and creativity. How then can we begin to make sense of it? In this course, we will examine the first-hand experience of psychosis. We will approach it from multiple perspectives, including clinical descriptions, works of art, and texts by writers ranging from Shakespeare, to the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, to patients attempting to describe their experience. This class is not only for students thinking of careers in medicine, psychology or anthropology, but also readers and writers interested exploring extraordinary texts. There are no prerequisites necessary; all that is needed is a love of language and a curiosity about the secrets of other minds.

Terms: Win | Units: 3-5 | Repeatable for credit
Instructors: Mason, D. (PI)

PSYC 286: Culture and Madness: Anthropological and Psychiatric Approaches to Mental Illness (ANTHRO 186, ANTHRO 286, HUMBIO 146)

Unusual mental phenomena have existed throughout history and across cultures. Taught by an anthropologist and psychiatrist, this course explores how different societies construct the notions of "madness": What are the boundaries between "normal" and "abnormal", reason and unreason, mind and body, diversity and disease? nnOptional: The course will be taught in conjunction with an optional two-unit discussion section or engaged learning component.

Terms: Spr | Units: 3-5

PSYC 290: Teaching in Psychiatry

Practical experience in teaching by serving as a teaching assistant in a psychiatry course. Unit values are allotted individually to reflect the level of teaching responsibility assigned to the student.

Terms: Aut, Win, Spr, Sum | Units: 1-10 | Repeatable for credit

PSYC 299: Directed Reading in Psychiatry

Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

Terms: Aut, Win, Spr, Sum | Units: 1-18 | Repeatable for credit

PSYC 370: Medical Scholars Research

Provides an opportunity for student and faculty interaction, as well as academic credit and financial support, to medical students who undertake original research. Enrollment is limited to students with approved projects.

Terms: Aut, Win, Spr, Sum | Units: 4-18 | Repeatable for credit

PSYC 399: Graduate Research

Students undertake investigations sponsored by individual faculty members. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

Terms: Aut, Win, Spr, Sum | Units: 1-18 | Repeatable for credit

For more information on the courses above, please visit
Stanford University's Explore Courses

Annual National Awards Open to Medical Students

American Psychiatric Association

  • APA/APAF Medical Student Programs
    APA/APAF Medical Student Programs provide medical students who are interested in serving underserved communities the experiential learning, training, and professional development they need to be leaders in the field of psychiatry. These grants give medical students opportunities to travel to APA Meetings (Annual Meeting and IPS: The Mental Health Services Conference), receive mentorship from psychiatrists and leaders in the field, and more. Learn More
  • Travel Scholarship for Medical Students to National Meetings Learn More

American Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

  • AACAP Jeanne Spurlock, MD, Research Fellowship in Substance Abuse and Addiction for Minority Medical Students
    Supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and AACAP’s Campaign for America’s Kids (CFAK) (award contingent upon funding)
    This fellowship provides up to $4,000 for 12 weeks of research training in substance abuse and addiction under a mentor with experience in the type of research that is being proposed, and whose work includes children and adolescent participants. The program also covers travel and four days of lodging for award recipients to attend. Learn more
  • AACAP Summer Medical Student Fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
    Supported by AACAP’s CFAK
    This fellowship provides up to $3,500 for 12 weeks of clinical or research training under a child and adolescent psychiatrist mentor. The program also covers travel and lodging for award recipients to attend AACAP’s 67th Annual Meeting, October 19-24, 2020, San Francisco, California. Learn more

Note: AACAP offers assistance connecting with a mentor of compatible clinical/research interests.

Association of Women Psychiatrists

  • Leah J. Dickstein, M.D., M.A., Medical Student Award
    The Leah J. Dickstein, M.D. Medical Student Award was established in the year 1992 to recognize a female medical student who best exemplifies the spirit of creativity, energy, and leadership that Doctor Dickstein herself epitomizes and seeks to foster in others. Learn more

Association for the Advancement of Philosophy and Psychiatry

  • Karl Jaspers Award
    The Karl Jaspers Award is given for the best paper related to the subject of philosophy and psychiatry sponsored by The Association for the Advancement of Philosophy and Psychiatry (AAPP). Eligibility includes medical students, graduate students in philosophy, psychology and related fields, and residents and fellows in psychiatry. Learn more

External Web Resources

American Psychiatric Association: Explore a Career in Psychiatry

American Psychiatric Association: Professional Interest (subspecialties and other areas in psychiatry)

PsychSIGN Psychiatry Student Interest Group Network

External links to resources for students interested in psychiatry (we do not endorse or guarantee the information at these websites)

Stanford Clinical Opportunity for Residency Experience Program

Stanford Clinical Opportunity for Residency Experience Program (SCORE) brings fourth-year medical students from diverse backgrounds to Stanford for a four-week residential clinical training program in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford Health Care