Contributing Author: Kristin S. Raj, MD
Overview: In 2018, we began an overhaul of our neuroscience curriculum. We had been struggling with the sense that we were teaching haphazard tidbits of neuroscience rather than a comprehensive and useful survey course. We began with a workgroup of interested residents and neuroscience educators. Importantly, the group included non-neuroscientists who served an essential filtering role for material that was overly technical or lacked clinical relevance. The group brainstormed about what constitutes a more comprehensive summary of neuroscience content that a graduating psychiatry resident should know. We also strove to consider teaching methodologies that would both allow core concepts to “stick” and also instill an interest in learning about neuroscience above and beyond the course given the rate of change of neuroscience information in psychiatry. Our following 20-hour curriculum is the product of this brainstorming and distillation process. The major topic areas from micro to macro include genetics, cells and synapses, and brain regions and circuits. We endeavored to make these classes based around a foundation of a few key learning objectives, relevant to a clinical psychiatrist, and interactive to improve engagement. We also included several hours of “wrap-around” classes centered around psychiatric illnesses in which we integrate information about each topic area into our best understanding of the neuroscience behind the illness. Examples of where NNCI materials may fit in with lecture topic areas are included in parentheses under the lecture subject titles.
Author Affiliation: Kristin S. Raj, MD is from Stanford University in Stanford, California. The NNCI is supported by the National Institutes of Health Grant Nos. R25 MH086466-07S1 and R44 MH115546-02 and with additional funding from the Society of Biological Psychiatry and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. ©National Neuroscience Curriculum Initiative.