Call for Applications: APA Medical Student Senior Elective in HIV Psychiatry

The American Psychiatric Association established the Medical Student Senior Elective in HIV Psychiatry in 2004 to provide an opportunity for 4th year minority medical students to participate in a one-month clinical or research elective in HIV psychiatry.

With improvements in HIV drug therapy there is a burgeoning demand to treat the mental health needs of those living longer with the disease. People with HIV have a higher incidence of mental health problems than the general population and people with serious mental illness are more at risk for contracting HIV. HIV attacks the brain, causing inflammation and tissue deterioration. Infection of the brain also can lead to clinical depression, mild or moderate thinking problems, and trouble with memory and focus. Unfortunately, the mental health needs of people living with HIV/AIDS are too often overlooked.

Undoubtedly, future physicians need to develop a working knowledge of HIV-related psychiatric and neuropsychiatric issues. The purpose of the Medical Student Elective in HIV Psychiatry is to foster the participation of racial and ethnic minority medical students in HIV-related care and research and provide them with a means of obtaining essential HIV-related mental health training through an integrated approach to patient care.

Description of the Project
This September the Elective in HIV Psychiatry begins with intensive two-day training in Washington, DC. Topics range from neuropsychiatric complications of HIV, somatic complaints, and mood disorders to special patient populations including people with substance use disorders and/or those suffering from severe mental illnesses. Training modalities include a combination of lectures, role playing, case vignettes, and first-person accounts through interviews with HIV positive people. Students then travel to training sites for their clinical or research experience for the month of September.

To date, seventy-one students have completed the full month-long elective. Prior sites have included: Cambridge Health Alliance/Zinberg Clinic; The New York Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia University; The New York-Presbyterian Hospital Cornell University Center for Special Studies (CSS); Emory University/Grady Infectious Disease Program; Howard University; University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; University of Cincinnati; University of Miami, Stanford University, Beth Israel Medical Center, Vanderbilt University, and the University of South Florida (for a research elective in HIV Neuroimmunology in Psychiatry.) Tentative dates for the elective are August 23 to September 20.

The application deadline is March 31, 2014 with selections to be announced in late April. Apply Now

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