Medical Student Elective Opportunities

The Department of Psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center offers several elective clerkships for visiting medical students. Application for these must go through the Office of Education, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA. Please note all additional requirements for Harbor-UCLA applications as explained on the UCLA website including but not limited to a clinical letter of recommendation.


This is a singular opportunity to work in the exciting frontier of Emergency Psychiatry. The Psychiatry Emergency Service (PES) at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center typifies the stimulating and rapidly evolving environment of this field. The PES is the referral center for an estimated 2.3 million Los Angeles County residents. In this busy emergency setting, medical students are exposed to a wealth of clinical material and gain experience with a wide spectrum of psychiatric disorders, in addition to performing consultations to the hospital’s medical emergency departments. You will be able to learn the art of crisis intervention and the management of acute psychotic agitation from an experienced group of emergency psychiatric attending staff and residents. We have a newly remodeled emergency room and a supportive multidisciplinary team of psychiatric attendings and residents, nurses, and social workers. This is a wonderful experience, one that is not offered in many training programs. (For further information about the Emergency Psychiatry Elective, see below.)


The inpatient psychiatric services at Harbor-UCLA consist of two locked inpatient units: 8-West, a 24-bed unit, and 1-South, a 14-bed unit, both with an average length of stay of one to two weeks. Students electing an advanced clinical clerkship on the inpatient units will have the opportunity to work independently with a number of acutely psychotic, manic, or severely depressed patients under the direct supervision of the three unit attending psychiatrists. Additional opportunities include participation in group and family therapy sessions, as well as chances to attend mental health court hearings. There is a focus on diagnostic workups and biological interventions within a psychosocial and sociocultural framework. Inpatients at Harbor-UCLA reveal a unique and fascinating array of psychopathology, cultures, and presentations, offering a very rich learning experience. The two units are well-staffed, with each inpatient team consisting of an attending psychiatrist, three psychiatric residents, and a full complement of nursing, social work, and therapy staff. (For further information about the Psychiatric Crisis Management Elective, see below.)


The consultation/liaison service (C/L) has a large volume of varied patients who initially are seen in consultation with the Medical/Surgical housestaff and then can be followed up with brief outpatient treatment. In addition, the service receives requests for evaluations from outpatient clinics such as the HIV clinic, family medicine, and surgical subspecialty clinics. Medical students will have opportunities to perform these evaluations under supervision of senior psychiatric residents and to develop their own caseloads. They will attend daily rounds where they will present their cases, and also attend the weekly presentation and discussion of journal articles relevant to C/L psychiatry. This service provides a wonderful opportunity to work at the psychiatry/medicine interface in a busy and academically oriented public hospital.


This elective emphasizes the treatment of dual diagnosis patients. The rotation will occur at the Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program (DDTP) at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Students will learn skills to conduct psychiatric and substance abuse assessments, outpatient detoxifications, medications management for psychiatric conditions (as well as medications for substance abuse problems), and for running groups. Students will also take part in consultations and assess patients from the psychiatric emergency department, as well as the outpatient clinic. Our principal aim is to help patients reduce the harm they are doing to themselves by substance abuse and/or psychiatric issues. Psychosocial treatment strategy will be a focus, and medications such as buprenorphine, disulfiram, and naltrexone will be emphasized.

More information can be obtained at UCLA’s website.
You may also contact D. Rad, M.D.