court house

Community and public safety psychiatry

Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship

The Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship at MUSC is a 12-month accredited program that provides a diverse training experience in areas where psychiatry is applied to legal issues. Our program is committed to educating clinicians in the theoretical and practical aspects of forensic psychiatry. While doing so, the Community and Public Safety Psychiatry Division (CPSPD) at MUSC provides an invaluable service to the state of South Carolina and the Lowcountry in particular.

At MUSC we provide Consultation Liaison service to the Institute of Psychiatry and the Medical University Hospital for issues such as violence and suicide risk assessment and capacity. We also provide evaluation services to Charleston and Berkley County Probate Courts. Disability evaluations, conservator, and guardianship, are utilized to round out the civil law core experience.

For the criminal law core experience we utilize South Carolina’s Department of Corrections and Department of Juvenile Justice. Fellows provide regular clinical care at two adult correctional institutions; one of which is a maximum security facility that houses South Carolina’s Death Row inmates. The other is a medium security facility. Fellows also provide clinical care to juveniles housed at the Charleston County Detention Center and provide clinical care and conduct assessments at a Department of Juvenile Justice evaluation center.  To round out the criminal core experience, our program has a contract with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health to provide competency to stand trial and criminal responsibility evaluations of adults and juveniles for 8 counties in the coastal region.  Fellows are provide clinical care in a community based clinic for persons on probation or parole and others found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Fellows have the opportunity to participate in private evaluations. Faculty performs Criminal Responsibility, Competency to Stand Trial, Independent Medical and Malpractice, and Worker’s Compensation, Child Custody, Adoption, and Termination of Parental Rights evaluations that fellows will work together on with faculty supervision. Fellows may also work alone on private cases as experience and skill allow.

Our program is one of the few in the country with opportunities for fellows to conduct sexual behavior risk assessment evaluations for the criminal court and commitment and release evaluations for civil court under the state’s Sexually Violent Predator Act.  In addition, fellows are afforded the unique experience in the conduct of fitness-for-duty evaluations for licensing boards and employers with professionals in health care (physicians, nurses, social workers and others), law enforcement (sworn and support personnel) and transportation (pilots and others).  The CPSPD also has a forensic and general community research program with ongoing studies at any given time, which are typically open to fellow involvement.

A fellow’s training can be tailored to fit specific personal interests. Our faculty includes six board certified forensic psychiatrists two board certified forensic psychologists, additional clinical psychologists, and a professional counselor. Among those, three are board certified in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and one is a board certified Clinical Sexologist and certified Sex Therapist.

Didactics include a weekly landmark case series and courses in the basics of law and psychiatry. Videotapes and mock trials are utilized to prepare fellows to present testimony in court. As part of the academic component of the program, fellows complete an academic project (paper, local, regional or national presentation, etc) and participate in a forensic psychiatry journal club once a month. They are responsible for some teaching to general residents.

Fringe benefits include funds to attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL) as well as the Forensic Psychiatry Review Course. Fellows also get the benefit of enjoying the relaxing coastal environment of Charleston, South Carolina.

The Forensic Fellowship Director is Christopher Fields, M.D


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