Updating medical school psychiatry curricula to meet projected mental health needs



Publication Details

Thomas, S., Pai, N., Dawes, K., Wilson, C. & Williams, V. (2013). Updating medical school psychiatry curricula to meet projected mental health needs. Australasian Psychiatry, 21 (6), 578-582.


Objective: In view of the growing disease burden of mental disorders, we consider the pressing need to update medical school psychiatry education to better equip doctors to recognise and treat these conditions. Key challenges to the delivery of medical school mental health curricula, and possible directions for reform, are reviewed with the aims of stimulating collaboration and enhancing the efficiency across schools. Conclusions: In Australia, medical school expansion provides opportunities to prepare many training doctors to meet growing mental health care needs. Despite this, published reviews of practice and curriculum models are notably lacking. Australia, unlike other countries, has yet to agree on a core curriculum in medical school psychiatry, with practices varying widely between schools. Curricula should equip doctors to better recognise and treat common mental disorders during early stages, as well as preparing some for specialist psychiatry training. High-quality, multidisciplinary teaching in varied clinical settings may boost teaching resources. Additionally, medical education provides opportunities to better equip doctors to take care of their own mental health. Key challenges are to achieve a consensus on core curricula across Australian medical schools, and an appropriate proportion of medical school curriculum time for mental disorders, relative to their complexity and large disease burden.

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