MIDAS Project

Summer Student Program

In the MIDAS project's summer student program the student works in the integrated clinical-research program in the outpatient division of the Rhode Island Hospital department of psychiatry. Students have an opportunity to observe diagnostic evaluations of psychiatric patients presenting to the practice. Experienced diagnostic raters conduct the clinical-research interviews. Students have opportunities to learn how to conduct parts of the interview and how to write sections of the diagnostic report.

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Students attend a weekly diagnostic case conference in which clinical cases are discussed by the psychiatrists and psychologists working on the MIDAS project. The focus of the conference is on differential diagnosis, and the discussion revolves around the application of the DSM-IV criteria. In addition, medical and psychological perspectives towards case formulation and treatment are discussed among the members of the team.

Students also attend a weekly journal club in which a recently published article is reviewed. The methods of the study are discussed in detail and methodological flaws are identified. The relevance of the article for clinical practice is discussed.

Both the case conference and the journal club seminars are lead by the director of the MIDAS project. On a weekly basis the students meet with one of the members of the MIDAS project team to review in more detail a specific topic. This past year's topics included discussions of validation of psychiatric disorders, mental status examination, personality disorders, pathological gambling, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and DSM-IV anxiety disorders.

Summer students learn about the setting up of research databases, and much of the students' work involves entering and checking data. In this context the methods of the MIDAS project are discussed in order to teach the student how to translate research hypotheses into a testable question. Students have an opportunity to assist in a variety of research projects such as collecting data from patients for pilot studies. Students interact with practicing clinical psychologists and psychiatrists as well as members of the MIDAS project team, and thus can learn about each of the clinical professions.

Summer students are generally unpaid positions because of the large investment of staff time in providing educational experiences. Interested applicants should email Mark Zimmerman (mzimmerman@lifespan.org).