Academic Psychiatry Department Names: Reflections on Research, Practice, and Education

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OBJECTIVE: Medical schools' departments reflect changes in health care and medical school organization. The authors reviewed psychiatry department name categories associated with school age, research, and primary care focus.

METHODS: Department names were identified and categorized for US allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. A multinomial regression model analyzed the relationship between department name category and established year, adjusted for school type. Fisher's exact tests analyzed the relationships between name category and research/primary care foci.

RESULTS: Among 147 allopathic schools, 52% had departments with names limited to psychiatry, 42% had names with psychiatry plus other terminology, and 5% had no identified psychiatry department. In 34 osteopathic schools, 12% had psychiatry departments, 12% had departments named psychiatry plus other terminology, and 75% had no identified psychiatry department. Age of school was related to departmental name: for a 1-year increase in the school's established year, the odds of having a department name other than psychiatry were 1.02 times the odds (p < 0.001) of having the name psychiatry. Newer schools were less likely to have departments with "psychiatry" in their name. Associations were found between department name and research and primary care rankings.

CONCLUSIONS: Variability in the names of psychiatry departments in medical schools may suggest changing views within and about academic psychiatry. The limited presence of formal psychiatry departments in newer schools raises questions about psychiatry's impact on educational pathways, the future workforce, and participation in schools' research mission and clinical enterprise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-168
Number of pages5
JournalAcademic Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, grant UL1TR002494.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Academic Psychiatry.


  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care
  • Psychiatry
  • Schools, Medical
  • Workforce

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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