The forensic psychiatry fellowship program at the USC Institute of Psychiatry, Law and Behavioral Science was developed for psychiatrists who have completed an accredited residency training in general or child/adolescent psychiatry, and wish to obrain specialty training in forensic psychiatry. The goal of the fellowship is to upgrade professional expertise in dealing with legal issues involving significant mental health factors. This special educational and training program has directed itself to improving psychiatrists' abilities to provide professional assistance to the American Justice System.
The full time, one year program consists of 40 hours a week of lectures, seminars, and supervision. Forensic psychiatry fellows have an opportunity for extensive involvement as forensic psychiatric consultants to state hospitals, county jails, state or federal prisons, juvenile justice agencies, family court, coroners' office and other agencies that interrelate with Mental Health and Law. All forensic psychiatry fellows have numerous opportunities to serve as consultants and expert witnesses in psychiatry and law for the Superior, Municipal and Federal Criminal Courts, Family Law Court, Menatal Health Court, Juvenile Court, and County and Federal Probation as well as insurance companies and local and state government agencies.
Courses specifically designed for the forensic psychiatry fellows include: criminal law, civil law, juvenile law, family law, federal criminal law, mental health law, biological factors and sociological determinants of crime and delinquency, a seminar in special issues in psychiatry and law, a videotape seminar and landmark mental health cases seminar. Lecturers from these courses and seminars are drawn from the Institute/University faculty of forensic psychiatrists and psychologists, judges, public and private attorneys, and professionals from other forensic-related disciplines.
Each forensic psychiatry fellow has a minimum of five supervisors at any given time. The supervisors are all fellowship-trained and most are certified by the American Board of Forensic Psychiatry and by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology with the added qualifications in forensic psychiatry. All supervisors are on the faculty of the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. Supervisors are rotated so that the fellows will benefit from the supervisors' varied skills and expertise in the area of psychiatry and law.
The forensic psychiatry fellow conducts at least one treatment group per week for mentally disordered offenders. Each fellow is also assigned two forensic cases per week, and his/her forensic psychiatric opinion is given in a written report. These cases deal with psychiatric-legal issues for the criminal, civil, juvenile, and family courts as well as various administrative hearings. In addition, each fellow has the opportunity to testify on a weekly basis with supervision in the largest Mental Health Court in the country.
Each fellow receives an academic appointment whereby the fellow has an opportunity to teach and supervise psychiatric residents of LAC+USC Department of Psychiatry in the area of psychiatry and law. There are clinical case conferences where the forensic psychiatry fellows present to the Department of Psychiatry and the professional community at large, a forensic case which demonstates his/her knowledge and application of clinical material to the legal issues.
The forensic psychiatry fellow has an opportunity for field involvement in correctional psychiatry and forensic evaluations regarding mentally ill state prisoners and parolees. In addition, each fellow, under supervision, serves as a consultant to the Mental Health Court Clinic.
A second year fellowship is offered with an opportunity to focus on a subspecialty within forensic psychiatry. The second year fellow is encouraged to participate in ongoing research within the USC Institute Research Division. The Institute has an extensive library, which includes educational videotapes on forensic psychiatric issues.
Finally, the fellowship program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).