Frequently Asked Questions for Supervisors/Tutors

Below are some frequently asked questions for supervisors and tutors of our Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine rotation students.

What have the students done before coming to the Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine (PAAM) term?

The students will be in the third year of their course. They will have been on a range of general medical, surgical or other sub-specialty terms.


Please take a few minutes after the student arrives to orientate them to the unit, your registrar (who we hope will be involved in teaching), as well as the nursing unit manager and the nursing staff. A brief introduction to safe working practices (duress alarms etc), the sorts of patients that they may see on the ward, how to find out who are the good patients to interview and where they should do the interviews is invaluable.

The students will have all the fears and anxieties that people who are not familiar to psychiatric settings have on being in the psychiatric ward.

It may not be a bad idea for the students to go around in pairs during the early weeks of their term but please stress to them that their main job is to see as many patients as possible.

Can I use other staff/my registrar for the teaching?

We are keen to involve all medical staff in the teaching of the students. In particular, we have found that registrars frequently give very good teaching experiences. We are happy for the registrars to be involved in the examination process although initially it would be best if they observed an Observed Long Case (OCI = viva) before becoming an examiner. If you have keen nursing or allied health staff who are able to show students specific skills or patients, this is also fine.

How often should I see the student?

The PAAM term is eight weeks long. During the term, students will have two three-to-four week psychiatry attachments and a one-week Addiction Medicine attachment. The students have lectures scheduled all day Mondays and will have at least a half morning a week away at tutorials. Other than that it is expected the medical students should be with the unit that they are attached to for the majority of the time at ward rounds, outpatient clinics being with yourself or your registrar or interviewing patients.

If you do not see your medical student or have minimal contact please contact the Clinical Coordinator of the PAAM term at your clinical school.

What are my requirements as supervisor of a medical student?

As the supervisor of a medical student, we would like you to:

  • Orientate the student to your unit
  • Let the student observe you interviewing patients
  • Meet with the medical student for at least half an hour every week. During this session we would like the medical student to present a case history to you which would be the basis both for the student to practice and hone their interviewing and presenting skills and for the two of you to discuss diagnosis and management of a psychiatric disorder.
  • If possible, observe them conducting an interview
  • Complete a feedback form for the student
  • Mark a case history
  • Examine another student for their OCI (long case or viva)

As stated above, we are happy if your registrar does some of these tasks.

What is expected of the students?

The main task of the student is to see patients. In addition, students have:

  • to attend lectures every Monday
  • a Clinical Reasoning Session to conduct (this is a combination of a case discussion, evidence based medicine and a review of a clinical disorder)
  • formative and summative OCIs and they may well ask you to help them by doing the formative assessment
  • A Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) exam

The students are also expected to see a number of different clinical experiences such as a session of ECT and a magistrate's hearing of the Mental Health Act. These and other experiences are described in the PAAM Term Handbook.

What standard should I examine to?

A detailed set of instructions and a structured marking sheet is in the student's PAAM Term Handbook. In essence, the student needs to:

  • be able to establish rapport
  • elicit the core symptoms of a disorder
  • check for suicidality/dangerousness
  • develop an understanding of relevant social and medical problems
  • check for substance use and perform a cognitive assessment
  • synthesise their findings and report them back with a history, mental state examination, diagnosis, differential diagnosis and brief management plan

What happens if I fail a student?

If the student fails any of these steps, they will be required to take a post-exam which will include at least one examiner from the Discipline of Psychiatry. If the student fails the post-exam, they will have to repeat the term.

The students are expected to be adult learners capable of motivating and directing themselves. However, if you see a student in difficulty or you have concerns about the professional behaviour or appropriateness of a student's activities, please contact your Clinical School Co-ordinator early in the term rather than letting it lapse.

Where can I obtain a copy of the PAAM Term Handbook?

The PAAM Term Handbook is available online on the PAAM website or through your clinical school.