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07 May 2017

Mental health and substance use disorders are ranked as the third leading cause of Disability-adjusted Life Years (DALYs) in Australia (following cancer and cardiovascular disorders; AIHW, 2011). Despite the significant burden of these disorders, Australian medical schools do not prioritize mental health education relative to other specialties. Psychiatry differs in significant ways from the other specialty fields in medicine (with the notable absence of imaging techniques; the subjective nature of a mental health diagnosis; the inter-variability of treatment success etc.), yet the methods of teaching Psychiatry often do not differ from those used for other specialties. Similarly, medical students are often exposed to only a small fragment of Psychiatry, providing them with an inadequate (and often dismal) perception of mental disorders and treatment for mental health conditions. Doctors and medical students have also been shown to hold stigmatizing attitudes towards mental illness – which holds repercussions for their patient’s health, and their own health. Therefore the burden of mental illness and lack of adequate education for doctors to manage mental illness, puts Australia at risk of a worsening burden of disease.

What is the Psychiatry Curriculum Project?

This research project aims to explore and compare the current Psychiatry curriculums (including substance use and suicide) offered at each Australian medical school. Furthermore, it aims to assess each medical schools:

  • Mental health non-clinical education

  • Mental health clinical education and exposure

  • Mental health communication skills education

  • Efforts at destigmatisation

The perceived preparedness of final year medical students to engage with psychiatric patients will be investigated in order to grasp the effectiveness of the current curriculum. 

Team Structure

Sarah Melen is a psychology graduate who will be acting as Project Convenor for this research project. She will be in charge of overseeing the project, and we are recruiting 3 additional students to be her team members and assist with data collection.

Application Process

Applications close at 11:59PM , 7th June 2017

To apply please fill in the following application:

If you have any questions about what the role entails or about the project please contact Sarah Melen at and CC Konrad Pisarski at  

Team Member Position Description

Reports to

Psychiatry Curriculum Project Project Convenor (Sarah Melen)

Primary Tasks

Designing questionnaire/interview for medical faculties; collecting data; conducting analysis; report writing

Overall Goals for 2017

Complete the Psychiatry Curriculum project and publish internally or externally


Meet with team regularly to discuss action plan

Contact Universities to collect data

Assist with data interpretation

Formation of analysis and report

Assist with formal publication of results

Day-to-day tasks

Emailing and phoning universities
Updating team on progress

Regular team meetings

Time commitment

2-3 hours per week, maximum 5 hours per week in busy periods


Team work
Ability to work effectively to deadlines, time management. Understanding of qualitative data interpretation (desirable, but not required)

Performance Indicators

Quality of data interpretation. Quality of written work produced.

People to liaise with

Psychiatry Curriculum Project Project Convenor: Sarah Melen.

Vice-chair, AMSA Medical Education (Research): Konrad Pisarski

Chair, AMSA Medical Education: Jeffery Wang

External: universities

 Applicants should note that this project is likely to run to the end of 2018, and final year students should keep this in mind as AMSA MedEd will not be able to keep them on following graduation.

Published: 07 May 2017