Medical Student Experiences

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Rotating at CHA

All medical school rotations are processed through Harvard Medical School's Registrar's Office. You can find out more information and how to apply for the Exchange Clerkship Program on their website.

The 3rd Year Medical School Integrated Clerkship

Cambridge Health Alliance developed the Cambridge Integrated Clerkship, in which Harvard Medical Students choose to spend the entire third year at institution in an integrated, longitudinal year-long educational experience. Since then, this model has expanded from the Cambridge Health Alliance to the other Harvard teaching hospitals. The clerkship emphasizes longitudinal contacts with patients in a community setting to assure a full and complete understanding of human disease and recovery, prevention and the experience of illness. The twelve CIC Students experience 'whole episodes' of illness and the follow-up of patients in their homes, rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes, encounter patients of multiple economic, social and cultural strata and appreciate the role of these factors in illness. Students have hands-on patient contacts in all of the disciplines.

Cambridge Health Alliance provides a formal curriculum including psychiatry, medicine, surgery and pediatrics, as well as basic science, health policy, public health, education that is vertically and horizontally-integrated and grounded in adult educational principles designed to extend and expand the students' knowledge base and clinical skills.

HIV Psychiatry

CHA hosts one or two 4th year medical students who participate in an American Psychiatric Association sponsored Minority Medical Student Elective in HIV Psychiatry in the Zinberg Clinic. Students apply nationally through the APA and 8 students are chosen for a month long elective in September at one of 5 sites around the U.S. in HIV care centers. Dr. Marshall Forstein serves as a member of the Steering Committee of the APA on HIV Psychiatry that provides the training and mentoring. Medical Students can apply through the Office of HIV Psychiatry at the American Psychiatric Association.

HMS Electives

Advanced Psychiatry Clerkship in a Community Hospital

Credits: 4.00 CREDITS (Clinical Elective)
Sites: CAM
Directors: Griswold, Todd Richardson
Prerequisites: HMS Principal Clinical Experience (Core Clinical Clerkships) or equivalent
Offered: Full time for one month. Not offered August.
Open to Exclerks: US/Canadian


This course is offered to students who would like to develop clinical experience on one or more of the psychiatric programs available at Cambridge Health Alliance. Possibilities include inpatient services, outpatient department, child inpatient and outpatient services, consultation to medical/surgical wards, addictions services, psychiatric emergency services, couples and family therapy, Victims of Violence program, geriatric services, and a program in cross-cultural psychiatry (including Haitian, Latino, Asian, and Portuguese clinics). With the course director, each student will tailor a program fitted to his/her particular interests. In addition to the clinical work, reading tutorials and individual preceptorships are available. Students should contact the course director prior to the start of the rotation to confirm the availability of specific clinical services.

Learning Goals

For students who have completed a core clerkship in psychiatry to develop more advanced psychiatric skills and knowledge through supervised clinical work on a particular clinical service at Cambridge Health Alliance.

Incorporation of Basic Science Content and Evidence-Based Medicine

Students meet with the course director or an appropriate preceptor to discuss cases and readings, which include recent articles tailored and relevant to the clinical settings. The readings address the evidence base for clinical treatment and the relevant basic science for the particular treatment setting or population served. In the clinical work, evidence-based medicine is incorporated into ongoing treatment.


Students are evaluated based on clinical performance, demonstrated initiative and learning, and written work; the evaluation form is identical to the standard clerkship evaluation form. The attendings working most closely with the students submit evaluations to the course director. The final evaluation completed by the course director combines input from the attendings (and residents or others as appropriate), the student’s participation in preceptor and seminar sessions, and a detailed case write-up.

Grade Criteria

High Honors: The student is highly motivated, always reliable and organized, and works particularly well with patients, staff, and faculty. Clinical work, growth in fund of knowledge, and motivation for learning are excellent to outstanding in most areas.

Honors: The student is motivated, solidly reliable and organized, and works well with patients, staff, and faculty. Clinical work, growth in fund of knowledge, and motivation for learning are very good or excellent in several areas.

Satisfactory: The student has met course expectations with basic proficiency; perhaps one or more areas of clinical work or professionalism fall somewhat short of expectations.

Unsatisfactory: The student has demonstrated significant deficits in a major area of clinical work or professionalism.

Readings in Psychiatry

Credits: 1.00 CREDITS (Clinical Elective)
Sites: CAM
Directors: Griswold, Todd Richardson
Prerequisites: HMS Principal Clinical Experience (Core Clinical Clerkships) or equivalent
Offered: Full time every month. Not offered August.
Time: Contact the Course Director
Location: Contact the Course Director
Open to Exclerks: No (HMS only)


This 1-credit elective provides advanced students an opportunity to discuss important writings in psychiatry with an experienced faculty psychiatrist. Readings will be selected based on the student's area of interest within psychiatry, and will be discussed critically in weekly meetings with the tutor. Significant weekly reading is expected. Interested students should contact the course director in advance so that we might construct an individualized learning agenda, and then select tutors and readings tailored to the student's interests and needs.

Learning Goals

The student will strengthen his/her fund of knowledge in a particular area of psychiatry by reading important articles and texts and discussing them with faculty.

The student will develop a deeper understanding of how theory informs clinical practice in psychiatry.

The student will further develop his/her critical thinking skills in psychiatry.

Incorporation of Basic Science Content and Evidence-Based Medicine:

Basic science and EBM will be incorporated as appropriate to clinical correlation as readings are discussed.


Students will be evaluated in the following areas:
1. Mastery of knowledge base covered in the readings
2. Capacity to extend readings to clinical correlation and applications
3. Demonstration of critical-thinking skills in discussing readings
4. Demonstration of initiative and self-directed learning

Grade Criteria:

High Honors: The student demonstrates excellent mastery of the knowledge base, sophistication in discussing clinical applications, a well-developed facility to think critically and synthetically about the concepts reviewed, and actively considers additional areas of reading or investigation which relate to discussion topics.

Honors: The student demonstrates strong skills in the evaluation areas listed above.

Satisfactory: The student demonstrates basic adequacy in the evaluation areas listed above, but areas requiring further improvement are evident.

Unsatisfactory: The student does not complete readings or does not attend meetings with the tutor.

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