Medical Student Elective in HIV Psychiatry

The Medical Student Elective in HIV Psychiatry provides an opportunity for fourth year medical students to participate in a month-long clinical or research elective in HIV psychiatry at one of several prominent universities across the country. This program was created to foster the participation of medical students (particularly from racial and ethnic minorities) in HIV-related care and research and provide them with a means of obtaining essential HIV-related mental health training through an integrated approach to patient care.

The application process for the 2019 elective is now closed.

Application Deadline

  • Friday, May 10, 2019 (Deadline Extension)

Application Materials

  • Curriculum vitae.
  • A letter of interest (no more than two pages) describing your previous experiences in HIV, mental health and public health and how this elective will help you in your career choices.
  • A letter of good standing from your medical institution.
  • A letter of recommendation from a psychiatrist, physician or faculty member who has worked with you and/or is familiar with your clinical interests. Your letter should be a signed statement and include dates during which you worked together.

About the Elective

The elective begins with an intensive, two-day training in late August at the APA main office in Washington, D.C. Topics range from neuropsychiatric complications of HIV, somatic complaints, and mood disorders to special patient populations including people with substance use disorders and/or those suffering from severe mental illnesses. Training modalities include lectures, role playing, case vignettes and simulations, open discussion, and first-person accounts through interviews with HIV positive people. Students then travel to their assigned sites and begin a month-long clinical and/or research experience. The typical clinical program includes clinical supervision; a minimum of 12 hours of clinical experience per week (inpatient and outpatient); community-based outreach; time with a non-psychiatric provider; and an independent study project. Participating sites have included Harvard University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Stanford University, Howard University, Beth-Israel Medical Center, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The heart of the program is in establishing a mentor relationship at one of several training sites, becoming involved with a cohort of medical students interested in HIV medicine/psychiatry, participating in an interactive didactic/experiential learning program, and moving students toward high achievement in the area of HIV-related mental health research or psychiatric services. Mentors stay in touch with students over time, offering guidance as they progress in their careers. Students are selected through a competitive process and receive a stipend.

Contact Us

If you have questions please contact us at

The program was a wonderful experience and I am excited and humbled to be selected for the program.

John Smith, Medical Student HIV Elective Alum

The psychotherapy seminar was really poignant and informative and elucidated the unique challenges that survivors of the HIV/AIDS epidemic still wrestle with today.

Brittany Tarrant, Medical Student HIV Elective Alum

Application Reources

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