It is an extraordinary time for the respective fields of Psychiatry and Neurology. Recent advances in the neurosciences, genetics, cognitive science, and behavioral medicine are rapidly translating into real understanding and valuable treatments that promise to substantively improve the lives of people with neurologic and mental illness. We are learning more each day about the causes and correlates of these conditions, including their complex interplay and etiologies. With this knowledge, we are beginning to address the true impact of neuropsychiatric illnesses (NPIs) in our culture. This is a time in which we can truly make a difference in the lives of our patients and their families.

As medical students who will eventually join the nation’s physician workforce, it is essential that you become familiar with these issues and actively engage in contemporary assessment and treatment of patients with NPIs.   It is important because the prevalence and impact of NPIs and coexisting conditions are daunting.  Physicians in all fields of medicine inevitably will encounter these issues. For example, one in five persons will experience a significant mental illness during their lives. Half of patients who present for clinical care in medical settings will have a coexisting mental and/or addiction disorder. Cognitive impairment from conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders can erode medical decision-making and ability to follow a medical regimen.

NPI’s shatter lives and adversely affect the treatment of other medical problems. The global, national and local burden of NPIs is almost immeasurable in terms of human suffering and economic impact. Despite changing societal perceptions, mental illness continues to be poorly recognized, highly stigmatized, and until relatively recently, scientifically neglected. However, new advancements in the neurosciences are leading to more effective therapies to minimize the burden of neuropsychiatric illness and potentially halt pathological changes is the brain. The next ten years should see dramatic progress for these patients and their conditions. You can be part of this positive change.

For these reasons, we believe that caring for people who experience and suffer from either neurologic or mental illness is the responsibility of every healthcare professional. Therefore, we ask for your help to answer those questions related to the causes, prevention, and optimal therapeutic approaches to NPIs. We hope that you will maximize this time and learn how these fields of medicine will benefit you and your patients in your chosen residency and beyond. If we may be of further assistance in your clerkship experience, please let us know.

Justin Petri, MD | Clerkship Director, Assistant Professor

Margaret Meynardie | Clerkship Coordinator | Tel: 757.446.7189 | MeynarM@evms.edu