The Psychiatry Major: A Curricular Innovation to Improve Undergraduate Psychiatry Education in China

Acad Psychiatry. 2018 Jun;42(3):376-381. doi: 10.1007/s40596-017-0707-3. Epub 2017 Jun 2.


Objective: In China, a psychiatry major curriculum (PMC) has been implemented in select medical schools to improve the quality of undergraduate psychiatry education (UPE). Our aim was to describe this PMC and compare it with UPE in the standard Chinese clinical medicine curriculum (CMC). We also benchmarked PMC to UPE programs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China and the United States of America (USA) to determine how well it met standards of well-established programs and to highlight areas for improvement.

Methods: Based on archival information, relevant literature, and communication with key informants, we described PMC and CMC in a Chinese school with both curriculums. We then compared PMC to UPE curriculums in Hong Kong and the USA.

Results: PMC provides substantially more comprehensive exposure to psychiatry than CMC, with more preclinical experiences and psychiatry clerkship course hours, greater diversity of clinical sites, and exploration of subspecialties. PMC employs a variety of teaching methods and offers mentoring for students. PMC has similar UPE preclinical content and course hours as programs in Hong Kong and the USA. PMC also provides more clinical exposure than programs in Hong Kong or the USA, although there is less variety in clinical settings.

Conclusion: We recommend implementation of concrete measures to improve UPE in Chinese medical schools, using the PMC curriculum as a model that has been successfully implemented in China. We also recommend improvements to PMC based on comparisons with existing programs outside Mainland China.

Keywords: Curriculum development; International; Teaching methods.

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Curriculum / standards*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Educational Measurement / methods
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Psychiatry / education*
  • Psychiatry / standards*