Department of Psychiatry

Education Programs

Medical Student Education

On Becoming a Doctor: Human Behavior

Louise O'Donnell, PhD
Louise O'Donnell, Ph.D.,
Course Director

The Human Behavior Section of the course “On Becoming a Doctor” teaches first year medical students basic human psychology with an emphasis on the neurobiological substrates mediating interpersonal interactions, particularly as they relate to the doctor-patient relationship. Topics discussed include infant and child development, human sexuality, death and dying, and aging and functional decline among others. The course is comprised of lectures as well as small group activities that invite students to identify patient and personal thoughts, feelings and behaviors likely to affect the relationships they build with their patients.

Course Topics

  • The Brain, The Neuron and Behavior
  • Genes and Behavior
  • The Mind, The Group and Behavior 
  • Infant, Child and Adolescent Development
  • Diversity in Medical Practice 
  • Discrimination in Medical Practice
  • Family Systems 
  • The Neurobiology of Attachment
  • Family Violence and Development Trauma 
  • Neurobiology of Rage, Aggression, and Fear
  • Gangs 

  • Mental Defense Mechanisms  
  • Personality Types 
  • Human Sexuality 
  • Neurobiology of Sex  
  • Chronic Disease, Stress and Behavior 
  • Chronic Disease, Stress and Neurophysiology 
  • Learning and Memory 
  • Reward Systems and Conditioning
  • Aging and Functional Decline
  • Cognition and Functional Status
  • Death and Dying 
  • Advanced Interviewing: Cognitive Assessment
  • Sleep




Brenda Talley, M.D., Course Director, Psychopathology

Brenda J. Talley, M.D.

Course Director

Psychopathology teaches second year medical students disease processes affecting the human mind and interviewing techniques to elicit psychiatric symptoms such as psychosis, suicidal ideation, and substance dependence. This course discusses the clinical features and neurobiological mechanisms mediating psychiatric illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, dementia, and ADHD. Small group activities emphasize psychiatric interviewing, mental status formulations, and differential diagnosis. Students are invited to interview volunteers with mental illness and discuss their findings in confidential small group settings with faculty psychiatrists and psychologists.

Course Topics

  • Psychopathology & Classification/DSM-IV
  • Review of Developmental Theory, Psychodynamic Theory and Behavioral Neurobiology
  • Delirium
  • Schizophrenia & Other Psychotic Disorders
  • The Psychiatric Interview/MSE: AMSIT
  • Dementia & Amnestic Disorders
  • Substance Related- Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Mood Disorders
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • General Features of PersonalityDisorders-Clusters A/B and C


  • Psychiatric Treatments
  • Common Problems in Medical Practice and
    Cultural Issues in Psychiatry

  • Sleep Disorders
  • Somatoform Disorders
  • Adjustment Disorders
  • Childhood Disorders
  • Developmental Disorders
  • Factitious  Disorders/Malingering
  • Sexual and Gender Disorders
  • The Violent Patient
  • Suicide
  • How to Break Bad News
  • Impulse-Control Disorders



Psychiatry Clerkship

Jason E. Schillerstrom, M.D.
Jason E. Schillerstrom, M.D. Course Director

Every student rotates through the Psychiatry Clerkship for six weeks during their third year of medical school. Students learn how to actively diagnosis and treat patients with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and substance dependence. Specific skills learned include suicide risk assessment, mental status assessment, substance use quantification, depression screening, and substance use quantification. In addition to inpatient units and outpatient clinics, students take call in the University Hospital Psychiatry Emergency Service where they learn how to manage acute psychiatric emergencies such as recent suicide attempts, violent behaviors, and psychosis. Training sites for the psychiatry clerkship include:

1. University Hospital
2. South Texas Veterans’ Health Care System
3. UTHSCSA Psychiatry Consultation Service
4. Rio Grande State Center (RAHC)
5. Valley Baptist Hospital (RAHC)
6. Tropical Texas MHMR (RAHC)

7. Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center Psychiatry Services

Louise O'Donnell, PhD, Course Director, On Becoming a Doctor Jason E. Schillerstrom, MD, Course Director, Psychiatry Clerkship Brenda J. Talley, MD, Course Director, Psychopathology