ACNP Model Psychopharmacology Curriculum for Teachers of Psychiatric Residents (1984)

Ira D. Glick: Introduction


I recently submitted to the INHN Archives a piece describing the origins of the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology Model Psychopharmacology Curriculum for teachers of psychiatric residents – first published in 1999.

In that piece, I noted that the idea for this teaching-aid originally started when in the early 1980s, research and clinical psychopharmacologists asked the ACNP for help in providing teaching curricula-content, i.e. their lectures for training psychiatric residents in this developing field.  ACNP leadership put together an “ad hoc committee” chaired by David Janowsky and myself, and we recruited Professors Richard Shader and Carl Salzman. At that time, the early 1980s, the psychopharmacology field was just developing (as psychoanalytic thinking was found less useful for psychiatric disorders) and had only small “pockets” of psychopharmacologists around the country. (See the recent Don Klein note in the INHN archives, in which he described his seminal research and teaching at Hillside Hospital in Queens, New York.)  Very few were teaching in academic medical centers, except in such places as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Diego, etc. As such, we were asked if we could help the field by providing educational content for teachers of psychopharmacology inside and outside of psychiatric residency programs, or for clinicians who weren’t up-to-date with what was going on in the field or hadn’t been trained in psychopharmacology.

Accordingly, we developed a curriculum with a series of lectures and described how to use these didactic materials. We solicited from ACNP members, who were “experts” for a particular disorder, e.g., schizophrenia, depression, etc., the use of the “actual lecture” they were using in their programs (rather than create them from scratch). In the absence of “PowerPoint”, they provided us with lecture outlines – see the table of contents below.

We made it available to all ACNP members and department chairs. We provide it in its entirety here to give a historical snapshot of what the field was like in the 1980s.

At the time, most department chairs and training directors were non-psychopharmacologically trained and the materials often sat on their desks (without distributing it to the rest of their faculty in the department). A few programs started using it and were thrilled to finally have something to teach. The ACNP didn’t want to update the project in subsequent years, and it was eagerly picked up by the ASCP in the 1990s.

At this point, there are versions for teachers of A) residents, B) medical students and C) primary care physicians -- all three updated every two years. It is now embedded in most US residency programs, and recently the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) is distributing it to about 100 "third-world" countries, who lack both teachers and teaching content (the residency version has over 90 lectures and roughly 4500 Power-point slides plus details of how to set-up and run a psychopharmacology program over 2-4 years.


Ira D. Glick

December 1, 2016