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Enhancing forensic exposures in residency training

Tobias Wasser (Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA)
Saksham Chandra (Providence, RI, USA)
Katherine Michaelsen (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA) (VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA, USA)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 10 January 2020

Issue publication date: 10 January 2020




The purpose of this paper is to review the impact of a new, brief forensic rotation for general psychiatry residents on the variety of residents’ forensic exposures.


The authors surveyed residents who trained before and after the implementation of the new rotation to assess the impact of the rotation on the residents’ forensic experiences during training across a variety of domains.


Even in a highly clinical forensic setting, residents participating in the required rotation reported significantly greater variety of forensic experiences than those who had not completed the required rotation, including types of settings and assessments, Rotation completers reported greater exposure to various types of settings and assessments, and courtroom-related experiences, as well as the overall number of forensic exposures. The two groups did not differ in their forensic exposures in general psychiatry settings, civil-forensic evaluations or diverse forensic populations. Secondary analyses showed that increased exposure to court-based experiences and multiple forensic settings was associated with forensic fellowship interest.


This study demonstrates that a brief, mandatory forensic clinical rotation may increase residents’ exposure to forensic settings, assessments and courtroom-related experiences and that increased exposure to courtroom-based experiences in particular may increase interest in forensic fellowship. While not surprising, the results demonstrate that residents were not otherwise having these forensic experiences and that even time-limited forensic rotations can enhance the breadth of residents’ forensic exposures. Further, the rotation achieved these outcomes without using typical forensic sites but instead highly clinical sites, which may be particularly encouraging to residency programs without ready access to classic forensic rotation sites. This study contributes to the small but expanding body of the literature describing the value of increasing psychiatry residents’ training in clinical forensic psychiatry.



Wasser, T., Chandra, S. and Michaelsen, K. (2020), "Enhancing forensic exposures in residency training", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 13-19.



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