Letter from the Chair

Jeffrey Akman

Welcome to our Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of the George Washington University. Located a few blocks from the White House and State Department, our physical proximity to the government, to the National Institute of Mental Health, and to national headquarters for the American Psychiatric Association and other organizations provides a unique setting for creativity and innovation in the teaching and practice of psychiatry.

Through teaching, scholarship, and service, our department advocates a vision of humanistic psychiatry that is anchored in neuroscience research. Eight theme areas in which our psychiatry residency excels reflect our unique resources and the extraordinary ethnic and cultural diversity of Washington, D.C. Our faculty members are master clinicians who model for medical students and psychiatry residents the integration of pharmacological, psychotherapeutic, and community-based interventions. Our Human Rights Clinic and collaborations with national and international organizations promote human rights and relieve social suffering. The richly multicultural populations of Washington and proximity to international organizations have made cultural psychiatry and global mental health our most rapidly growing academic division. In our scholarship, we are creating a new psychiatry with clinical practices that are effective as validated by empirical research; efficient in time and health care costs; and portable across different patient populations, different clinical settings, and different clinical problems. 

Our outpatient practices and teaching programs are located in our 2120 L Street department, which includes ample conference rooms and teaching resources. With 371 beds, the George Washington University Hospital is our city’s newest hospital, where our department operates a 20-bed inpatient psychiatry unit, a consultation-liaison psychiatry service, and an emergency psychiatry service. Our psychiatry residency and medical student teaching programs are also based in Children’s National Health System and Inova-Fairfax Hospital, and in 10 community agencies that provide specialized community-based treatment programs.

Our department teaches medical students in all four years of medical school. In addition, a third-year clerkship and fourth-year elective training experiences provide in-depth instruction on care of patients with psychiatric illnesses. Our department offers a four-year General Psychiatry Residency, as well as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship at Children’s National Health System.

Our mission for the coming years is to advance Psychiatry as a medical specialty that treats mental illnesses and relieves human suffering in the ancient role of physician as healer—but to do so more effectively, more efficiently, and with greater portability by drawing upon both neurosciences research and the practices of humanism. We train psychiatrists with balanced expertise in psychopharmacology, psychotherapies, and social interventions, thus enabling a scope of practice that spans from psychiatric illnesses to suffering that is a normal response to adversity. We hope you will join us in this mission.


Jeffrey S. Akman, MD

Leon M. Yochelson Professor and Chair

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health