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Recruitment and Planning

The first step to organizing a Psychiatry Student Interest Group (PsychSIG) is to identify classmates who may be interested in joining. A number of strategies might be useful. A widely distributed email and a medical school forum posting advertising an initial activity is often the best way to get the word out about your new group. In addition, the Director of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry may know of students leaning towards psychiatry who could help in planning the first meeting. Consider the following activities for your PsychSIG:

  • Dinner meetings held annually at the home of the Psychiatry Residency Director or Faculty sponsor of your PsychSIG.  
  • Lunch meetings held about three times per year, on campus where first and second year medical students can conveniently join. Ask your medical school if funds are available to provide free lunch. Have a faculty member provide a 45 minute lecture on an intersting topic.
  • A booth at your medical school's student organization fair at the beginning of the year. This is a good way to get interested student's email for future meetings. 
  • A psychiatry movie screening every few months at the home of a psychiatry faculty member or student. 

Also, be sure to email your PsychSIGN Regional Chair for guidance and to register your PsychSIG with us. See the About page for contact information.


One of the most important considerations in structuring a PsychSIG is that the most active members tend to be second and fourth-year students. We recommend that the group be led by a second year who is closely advised by fourth year students who have been involved in the group. Since class schedules vary greatly from class to class (i.e., 1st years may have exams when 2nd years have a relatively light week), first and second year representatives are helpful in scheduling meeting times that will attract the greatest number of pre-clinical students. Although it is often difficult to get 3rd or 4th year students to show for student interest group meetings, remember to advertise broadly to all class years.


There are many groups that can offer you help with recruiting, programming and funding. Start with local resources such as your Dean of Students, your Department of Psychiatry, and your alumni association. Local branches of the national psychiatric organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Association of Community Psychiatrists and the National Alliance on Mental Illness are often enthusiastic to help new groups get off the ground.

Also, link your PsychSIG to other specialty student interest groups. Psychiatry is unique in that it permeates nearly every field of medicine. Living transplant donors have to be evaluated preoperatively by psychiatry; almost any hospitalized patient can develop delirium; family physicians write scripts on a daily basis for SSRIs; pediatricians have expressed an emerging need for child-adolescent psychiatrists. The most obvious connections are with Neurology, Emergency Medicine, Family Practice, and Pediatrics. Linking your PsychSIG to the interest groups of the aforementioned medical fields would perhaps attract interest from students who would otherwise not consider the specialty of psychiatry.

Ideas for your group

  • Link speaking event topics to current events in the field of psychiatry. There are numerous fascinating news events involving actions of those with psychiatric problems such as Andrea Yates drowning her own children and Tom Cruise speaking out against psychiatry. While many students look at psychiatry as an odd field that they want nothing to do with, they still watch the news and would be intrigued to find out more about the clinical science behind these infamous actions.
  • Out of the Shadow (2006): This is a documentary that aired on PBS about a woman documenting the life of a family member who suffered from schizophrenia. You can read a synopsis and purchase a copy, if so desired, at This would be an excellent film for discussion at a movie night.
  • Shadowing opportunities for MS1 & MS2: As first and second year students often get very little clinical experience, opportunities for them to shadow psychiatrists (faculty and/or residents) would be appealing. This would help students see the clinical benefit of the basic science courses and show them what lies ahead in third and fourth year.
  • Healthier & more diverse food options: Pizza is ubiquitous at medical school meetings. Many student interest groups are making an effort to provide sandwiches, salads, vegetables, or other healthier options. At the very least, some variety of foods should be offered so as to titillate the taste buds of students.

Utilizing Digital Media

  • Google Account: We recommend opening a google account that may be used by the leadership members of your PsychSIG. Choose an appropriate email address combining your school's acronym with PsychSIG (i.e. We reccomend google because you can utlize google drive for document storage and editing. This google account may then be passed on to future generations of PsychSIG leadership. 
  • Facebook Account: We reccomend creating a Facebook page for your PsychSIG. This is an effective way to communicate with your membership in addition to email and medical school forum posting. An example of a PsychSIG Facebook page may be seen here:
  • Branding: Logos can be a powerful way to tie multiple channels of communication together and may enhance the professional image of your PsychSIG. We have provided various PsychSIG logos which may be downloaded from the Gallery page. Feel free to use them for promotional purposes for your PsychSIG. Examples include using the same logo for the Google and Facebook profile picture and adding a logo banner to emails. Use of these logos is not mandatory; they are merely provided for convenience if you choose to use them.