Fellowship in Women's Mental Health
Fellowship in Women’s Mental Health
Vesna Pirec M.D. , Ph.D
One year (12 calendar months)
Neuropsychiatric Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago
Trainees who have completed their PGY-3 year of a psychiatry residency
The female reproductive cycle, along with sociocultural gender roles, can exert a major influence on the course, expression and treatment of psychiatric disorders. The aim of this fellowship is to develop a cadre of experts in the psychiatric care of women, and in the assessment and treatment of psychiatric symptoms linked with female reproductive cycle transitions. Fellows acquire expertise in treating psychiatric disorders associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, the postpartum period, and perimenopause. They come to understand the treatment implications of sex and gender differences in the expression of major psychiatric illnesses. They develop an in-depth appreciation of the influence of sociocultural gender roles on psychopathology.
This is primarily a clinical fellowship, but each fellow also would have an option to participate in research or scholarly project, the nature and scope of which depends on the fellow’s interests. These projects can range from conducting an independent research project and publishing the results, to collaborating on an ongoing research project, to co-authoring a journal article or book chapter, to peer-reviewing others’ research or publishing a book review.
The University of Illinois at Chicago is a nationally recognized leader in the field of women’s health and women’s mental health. It is a federally funded Center of Excellence for Women’s Health. The Women’s Mental Health Program is a winner of the American Psychiatric Association’s Gold Award for innovative mental health services, and the American College of Psychiatrists’ Award for Creativity in Psychiatric Education.
Goals and Major Objectives
Description of Teaching/Learning Activities
Clinical training experiences:
Most of the fellow's clinical training will take place within the Women's Mental Health Program of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Department of Psychiatry. The Women's Mental Health Program provides mental health services for women with reproductive and gender-related problems, such as premenstrual dysphoria, pregnancy-related mental illness, parenting problems, perimenopausal mood disorders, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorders.
Specific clinical sites within the UIC Women's Mental Health Program include:
Eating Disorders Clinic:
A clinic offering comprehensive and integrated services for women with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder (compulsive overeating).
A general outpatient clinic for women with gender or reproductive-related psychiatric or psychological symptoms.
Women’s Consultation Service:
A team that offers psychiatric consultation to outside departments or agencies, including prenatal clinics, an addiction treatment program for pregnant women, and obstetric/gynecologic inpatients.
Women’s Inpatient Treatment Service:
A hospital service for women with major mental illness who are having a crisis or an acute exacerbation of a psychiatric illness.
Didactic training experiences:
The primary didactic teaching for the fellowship consists of:
Fellows are encouraged to participate in some research or scholarly activity related to women's mental health. This could consist, for example, of a written case report and literature review, co-authoring a book chapter or journal article, reviewing a journal article submitted for publication, assisting in an ongoing research project, or conducting an independent research project under supervision. Those fellows anticipating a career in academic psychiatry will be encouraged to submit a paper for publication and/or present at a regional or national conference.
Fellows may also participate in the UIC Perinatal Mental Health Project, a statewide project that includes educating and consulting to other health care providers; designing, implementing and evaluating innovative models of perinatal mental health care; and designing and evaluating self-care tools for pregnant and postpartum women.
Core reading materials:
A set of core textbooks are used for the fellowship, and are supplemented by journal articles and book chapters. Fellows also expand their reading beyond these core materials to areas that interest them or are pertinent to their clinical work and research.
Current core texts include:
Frank E, ed: Gender and its Effects on Psychopathology. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, 2000
Kornstein SG, Clayton A, Monti DA, eds: Women’s Mental Health. New York: Guilford Press, 2002
Romans SE, Seeman MV: Women’s Mental Health: A Life-Cycle Approach. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006
Steiner M, Eriksson E, Yonkers KA: Mood Disorders in Women. Blackwell, 2000
Steiner M, Koren G: Gender Specific Psychopharmacology. J. A. Major, 2003
Stotland NL, Stewart DE, eds: Psychological Aspects of Women’s Health Care: The Interface Between Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology, Second Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, 2001
Relationship between program activities and objectives
The core of the fellowship program is direct patient contact with supervision from faculty members with expertise in various aspects of women’s mental health. The amount of time spent in different clinical services within the program can vary, depending on the specific educational objectives of individual fellows.
Ellen Astrachan-Fletcher, Ph.D.
Clinical Teaching Staff
Nikki Lively, LCSW
Michelle Miller Project Coordinator, perinatal research grant
Pauline Maki Ph.D.
Facilities and Other Resources
The Women’s Mental Health Program is based on the third floor of the Neuropsychiatric Institute of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Fellows have a private office in the Women’s Clinic, which includes full clinic facilities (waiting area, reception desk, fax machine, copier, etc.) Fellows have a computer with Internet access and e-mail. They have access to a well-stocked medical library and a video library. They have access to the resources of the Center of Excellence for Women’s Health.
Fellows are evaluated twice a year (December and June) by faculty. Prior to each evaluation period, an evaluation form is sent to all of the fellows' clinical supervisors, research mentors and seminar leaders. Fellows have the opportunity to comment on their perspectives about the evaluations. The spirit of these evaluations is to note strengths and weaknesses and to formulate constructive plans for expansion, improvement, and meeting fellows' career goals.
When problems, unanticipated logistical complications, or weaknesses are identified based on any of the above evaluation methods, relevant faculty will convene to study the problem and initiate improvements.