[Skip to Content]

Behavioral Science Course


This course on behavioral science has two purposes: to introduce you to psychosocial aspects of medical practice and to offer you an overview of clinical psychiatry.

Psychiatry has as its allied disciplines sociology and psychology. Behavioral science includes behavioral biology, including biochemical, physiological and pharmacological correlates of behavior; individual behavior including emotions, life cycle, motivation, personality and its psychopathology; and interpersonal and social behavior.

Most lecturers are clinicians. It is, therefore, to be expected that the material covered in this course will be clinically relevant.

Plan to read the following textbook prior to class and as a study guide:

Behavioral Science in Medicine: 2nd Edition by Barbara Fadem, PhD

MS2s learning about Schizophrenia

MS2s learning about Schizophrenia from the former Director of Undergraduate Medical Education and current Interim Chair, Dr. Thomas Schwartz.

Course Design and Organization:

This course was audited in 2012/13 by way of instantaneous feedback from students, student work groups, the campus curriculum committee and other oversight groups. Using the principles of adult learning in order to maximize information retention and prepare students for practice and taking into account generational preferences for learning, this course is designed to meet student goals and objectives.

The course is developed to be high yield and teaches content related to USMLE 1as the highest priority. Next, a basic fund of knowledge is developed to aid the student to excel in the psychiatry clerkship where academic learning must shift to clinical learning. Finally, concepts that lead to good doctoring and managing of patients are taught as a final priority.

For this type of teaching to be effective, the course has largely been arranged around a short textbook. Students are expected to read several pages of information prior to each lecture. This is the first exposure to factual written material. Students are expected to attend lectures. Lectures have been designed to follow the textbook and provide a second exposure by visio-spatial and verbal learning. Most lectures have an active learning component ie. use of live patient interviews, patient video clips, audience response system that is designed to create a third exposure that is more associative in nature. Two midterm quizzes and a final written examination ask students to watch lecture videos again, review written slides and notes again and provide ideally a streamlined 4th exposure where ideally, retention rates for factual information should increase in place of more classic rote memorization.The textbook material is augmented in class (10-15%) where faculty have either added material or updated slides to make the course timely and innovative.


The Behavioral Science Course will follow the USMLE format. You will be required to complete three multiple choice quizzes during the course and a comprehensive final exam covering all topics will be completed the end of the course.
We hope you will enjoy learning behavioral sciences as much as we enjoy teaching it.

Course Objectives

  • To understand human behavior in health and disease.
  • To understand biopsychosocial aspects of disease.
  • To prepare you for Psychiatry Clerkship.