Program Overview

History of the Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship Program at Duke

The Duke Department of Psychiatry first came to prominence in the mid-1950's under the chairmanship of Dr. Ewald Busse, who fostered an alliance between psychiatry and the Aging Center in the Department of Medicine, and established the nation’s first fellowship program in geriatric psychiatry. All of his successors have recognized the importance of patient care, teaching and research in geriatric psychiatry, and many continue to be active contributors in this area here at Duke. Duke’s Division of Geriatric Psychiatry has a strong tradition of commitment to teaching, clinical excellence, and research.

Overview of Mission, Objectives, and Methods

The Department of Psychiatry, in cooperation with the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, offers a 12 month training program in geriatric psychiatry, designed to train psychiatrists who will be able to provide care, function as consultants, interpret research findings, and serve as educators in the subspecialty of geriatric psychiatry. To accomplish these objectives, the fellowship provides:

  1. supervised clinical training in interdisciplinary inpatient, outpatient, and long term care settings;
  2. a comprehensive conference/seminar program and didactic curriculum; and
  3. the opportunity for supervised participation in funded clinical research projects in aging.

These training methods emphasize scholarship and self-instruction, and foster acquisition of knowledge and clinical skills in geriatric psychiatry; emphasize biopsychosocial concepts and an interdisciplinary approach to assessment and management; and promote development of leadership and skills for educating other health professionals. Each component of the curriculum includes program and performance evaluations in areas corresponding to the program objectives.

The clinical training is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate medical Education (ACGME) so that upon successful completion of the one year program, fellows may take the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology exam in Geriatric Psychiatry.

Beyond the first year, fellows may do an additional year of training in clinical research under the mentorship of our research faculty. The format offers flexibility allowing participants to customize their training experience according to their personal career goals.

Clinical Training

Clinical training occurs over 12 months in broadly 3 blocks of 4 months duration, each spent primarily (but not exclusively) at Duke University Medical Center, Durham VA Medical Center, and Central Regional Hospital (CRH) in Butner, NC.

Duke University Medical Center (4 month block):

Memory Disorders Clinic: 20%
Neuropsychological Assessment Clinic: 20%
Geriatric Evaluation and Treatment Clinic: 5%
VA Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic: 5%
ECT Service at Duke: 10%
Research/ Elective: 10%
Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic: 10%
Nursing Home Rotation: 20%

Durham VA Medical Center (4 month block):

Geriatric Consult-Liaison and Pain and Palliative Care consultation: 70%
Geriatric Evaluation and Treatment Clinic: 5%
VA Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic: 5%
ECT Service at Duke: 10%
Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic: 10%

Central Regional Hospital, Butner, NC (4 month block):

Inpatient CRH: 90%
Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic: 10%


Key Strengths of Our Program

  1. A great mix of inpatient and outpatient rotations across three healthcare delivery systems, including a leading university affiliated medical center, a VA system, and a state psychiatric hospital.
  2. ECT rotation at one of the best ECT programs in the country, leading to ECT certification.
  3. Group psychotherapy supervision for therapy with older adults.
  4. Mentoring in research is available to fellows and the majority of our fellows present at the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry meeting, or co-author peer-reviewed publications.


Here’s what our graduates are saying about us:

 “The Duke Clinical Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship offers exposure to both diverse patients and diverse clinical settings under the tutelage of some of the best geriatric psychiatrists and researchers in our field. Duke faculty care about your experience and mentor you long after the fellowship ends. The faculty embraces your clinical and research interests and structures a program that suits you. Duke has it all--this really isn't an exaggeration! My fellowship at Duke has definitely been a pivotal experience in my career.” --Dr. Warachal Faison, Clinical Services Director, Alzheimer’s Research and Clinical Programs, Medical University of South Carolina (Duke Geropsychiatry Fellow 2001-2002)

 “My experience at Duke was rich and varied, with exposure to the major thinkers in the field - who are as nice as they are famous. It was also great to get extra training in ECT at one of the premier ECT centers in the world - especially since ECT is a very marketable skill.” --Dr. Lea Watson, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, UNC School of Medicine (Duke Geropsychiatry Fellow 2003-2004)

end fo content area