Psychiatry Observerships

The Observership Program is currently full for the 2022-2023 academic year.  If you are interested in being on a wait-list for spring cancellations please complete the application process but there are no guaranteed openings at this time. 

The Department of Psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Medical Center provides Observership (shadowing) positions for international medical students or graduates of training programs in medical specialties. The goal of this program is to provide international medical students/graduates with the opportunity to experience examples of the American psychiatric medical system.

There are two different Observership opportunities possible.

  1. A Clinical Observership – this program is 4 weeks long. This is a rotating Observership, the observer spends one week each on four different clinical services (usually an inpatient unit, an outpatient unit, the psychiatric emergency room and a psychiatry specialty service).
  2. A Research Observership – for observers who can commit a longer length of time (usually 6-12 months, either full or 1/2 time) and have skills/interest that may be of use to a research team. We will attempt to match you to an appropriate site but this is not always possible.

There is a fee of $2000 for either program. Housing is not provided.

Application Process

Please note that the application process can take 2-3 months.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. There is usually a high volume of requests for these experiences, so those interested should consider applying 6-8 months in advance.    

All materials must be uploaded into the application portal:
                                    https://rfmhhelp.nyspi.org/EducationPortal

The application includes (and you should have ready to upload):

  • Curriculum Vitae: Please include an updated version of your CV as part of this application.
  • Letters of Reference: Three letters of references from individuals who are closely acquainted with your educational and/or work experience. At least one letter should be from your Medical School or Training Director. Please be ready to list the name and emails of the persons providing the letters – your referee(s) will automatically receive an email instructing them how to upload their letter into our application portal.
  • Personal Statement:  please write a single-spaced essay of no fewer than 400 words and no more than 800 words on why you are applying to this program. You should describe your interest in psychiatry and how it has developed. We are interested in how this program would assist you with meeting your career goals, as well as, any additional skills and experiences that you may want to highlight. You should include any research experience that you have, giving special emphasis to any relevant to psychiatry.

After the application is complete, we will arrange for a video-interview to discuss your interests and which type of placement would be most suitable for you. We have various sites for both clinical and research observerships which will be discussed during the interview.  In general, clinical observerships are 4 weeks long and begin on Mondays. Research observerships require a longer-term commitment and are only available if the applicant’s skill set matches the needs of a researcher.

For More Information Contact:

Margaret Hamilton MD
Director of International Medical Students and Graduates Rotations
New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University
1051 Riverside Drive
New York, NY. 10032
Email: mis3@cumc.columbia.edu

Karen Cruz
Program Coordinator
Email: Karen.Cruz@nyspi.columbia.edu
Phone: (646) 774-7505
Fax: (646) 774-6398