Fellowship Didactic Training

Seminar Structure

During the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellowship the education experience is filled with rich seminar activities, mostly taking place on a single afternoon protected from any clinical work.

Orientation Didactics:  Incoming fellows have intensive didactics in the first two weeks of fellowship with clinical coverage provided by the second year fellows to ensure protected time for the new trainees. The didactics cover the basics of inpatient and consultation work in children and adolescents as well as the basic disorders and pharmacology for childhood and adolescence.

Over the course of the year, the seminars are broken up into various courses:

Psychopathology and Psychopharmacology

This course covers the major disorders of childhood and adolescence with a focus upon developmental aspects of disorders and neuroscience of the disorders. Discussion of major disorders is coordinated with a study of the clinical management and psychopharmacology of each disorder.


This seminar covers the major therapies used in treatment of children and adolescents including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic therapy, play therapy, Trauma Focused-CBT, Parent Child Interaction Training, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and supportive therapy. During this seminar 1 hour per month is focused on trauma - both the treatment and dealing with the emotional toil that working with traumatized children can have.

Family Therapy

The family therapy seminar occurs in a two-hour block once per week. All fellows attend this seminar, along with psychology interns and adult psychiatry residents with an interest in child psychiatry. The seminar is led by Dr. Jon Ebert and Dr. Tarah Kuhn, psychologists who have extensive experience with family therapy and who lead Vanderbilt’s Intensive Outpatient Program for juvenile sex offenders. The first month of the seminar is didactic, providing abroad-based introduction to the theory of family therapy. The remainder of the seminar is interactive, with each fellow and psychology intern presenting a family therapy case and then having several sessions of therapy with that family in an observation room, with the other seminar attendees observing. The seminar leaders occasionally provide feedback and observations to the therapist trainee via telephone during the session. After each session, the therapist trainee and observers discuss the session and prepare for the next session.

Journal Club

The fellows will all participate in a journal club led by a tenure track epidemiology researcher in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Dr. Richard Epstein. The journal club will include review of two articles each month with guest faculty members providing specific clinical expertise each session. The goal of the dual leadership is to model for the fellows an integration of research and clinical work. The topics for the JC will parallel the topics for the psychopathology seminar and will provide guidance for the fellows in thinking about topics in psychiatry in an organized manner with integration of research into their clinical thought process. The initial meeting each year will focus upon teaching the fellows how to research the literature and utilize our extensive electronic medical library. Each fellow will be responsible for leadership of discussion during journal club on a rotating basis. The fellow providing leadership will work with the faculty leaders to prepare and discuss the articles.

Case Conference

There is a weekly case conference attended by trainees in the General program and all Psychiatry Fellowship programs. Each resident or fellow is assigned a week for presentation of a case to a faculty member who will discuss the case. The trainee works with the faculty mentor to develop a careful formulation of the case and to consider literature pertinent to the discussion of the case. The cases presented rotate from the various clinical services providing a variety of topics for discussion.  Total: 1 hour per week x 10 months per year.

Child Development

This seminar occurs over the course of a year, involving observation of pre-schools, seminars on normal and abnormal development and case conferences.  Total time: 8 hours/year.

Morning Report

All trainees working at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital on the inpatient services attend morning report. This is an opportunity for trainees and all inpatient faculty to gather daily 5 days per week to review the critical information needed to transfer care from on call to the team. Trainees learn to conceptualize the critical concepts needed to understand acute care management and communication skills.

All child psychiatry fellows are expected to attend weekly Grand Rounds, which are held in conjunction with the Department of Psychiatry. Adult psychiatry residents, faculty, medical students, and nursing students also attend, and the Grand Rounds are open to community clinicians as well.

Morbidity and mortality conference is held quarterly and includes all members of the department of psychiatry. Each conference includes presentation of a case and discussion of the issues related to that case. Topics and presenters are chosen by department faculty as opportunity arises.