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This course is administered by the Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago Medical School, Dunedin, on behalf of the Dunedin Psychiatry Training Scheme. This is part of the RANZCP training scheme and it is accredited by them as a Formal Education Course (FEC).

Most of the course is face-to-face teaching. You are expected to attend, as part of RANZCP training.

  • Open in person discussion of cases and sharing of experiences is vital, and cannot be substituted. This is especially true of psychotherapy training.
  • There are online resources, including LearnIt, and the moodle page mentioned below, but these are not a substitute for face to face and group teaching.

The course uses the resources of the university and therefore there is a synthetic paper that you will need to enrol in.

Online resources for the course (username and password required)

When you are appointed as a Registrar by the Directors of Training, the Administrator will enrol you in the course and facilitate you getting a password.

Aims of the course

The college guidelines for accreditation of the Formal Education Course notes:

RANZCP accreditation of the FEC will only be granted if the course provider successfully demonstrates that the graduates of the FEC are provided with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are relevant to contemporary professional practice as a psychiatrist. Relevant professional practice is defined in the RANZCP Syllabus, Curriculum Map, and Regulations.

The Formal Education Course goals are for the Psychiatric Registrar to:

  • Gain the knowledge to function as an Consultant Psychiatrist
  • Meet the requirements of the Clinical Training Agency and the College of Psychiatry
  • Support and facilitate the ongoing college assessment process, including the competency-based components

Process of the course

As our training scheme is small, we integrate across stages. In doing this we rely on a few principles:

  • Building a cohort of trainees that support each other through the course is as important a competency as any attitude or skill the curriculum requires us to inculcate. We simply are too small a training programme to have viable cohorts in Stage I, II, and III.
  • Repetition is good. Learning is a spiral, and returning to a topic with more depth is a good thing. We expect towards the middle of training that some sessions (such as phenomenology) are being taught be trainees, and in Stage III trainees take responsibility with their senior colleagues in teaching in their area of advanced training.
  • Resources should not we wasted. We intend to archive old teaching, slides, and resources, even if we make better later, as they are useful.

At present, we design the course around Modules over two years. Each Module has its own goals.

Course content

Stages 1 and 2

The current Otago academic programme is co-ordinated by the Department of Psychological Medicine and funded by the Clinical Training Agency.

The regulations for both Stage 1 (first year) and Stage 2 (years two and three) state that the formal educational programme is an essential part of teaching. Given that most Registrars will lose a considerable number of teaching days when on night duty or on leave, to meet these criteria they will have to attend every week that they are on duty. We do record some sessions so they can be reviewed, but this is not a substitute for actively attending. The RANZCP expects us to, and reviews at accreditation, attendance records. Satisfactory progress depends on this. The RANZCP state:

During a trainee's first three years of FTE-accredited training in the Fellowship Program, a trainee must enrol and demonstrate satisfactory participation in a College-accredited Formal Education Course (FEC). Satisfactory participation includes demonstrated active involvement during each year of the course, including regular attendance or completion of online Modules of the program, at a level of around 75 per cent of these components.

We run a combined Stage 1 and 2 Formal Education Course. It is based in the Department of Psychological Medicine, Fraser Building, Dunedin Hospital, and is scheduled to start on the Thursday following Waitangi Day. It runs as a full day programme on a Thursday, in three ten week terms, and finishes on the Thursday before Labour Day.

Stage 3 general (adult psychiatry) programme

At stage three, there are specialised needs for each subspeciality, but in general a need to concentrate on training on leadership, service development, and management skills. Part of this is met by a national senior trainee course, and by national seminars by distance.

Trainees in Certificate Programs will be required to attend an FEC for their area of subspecialty training as per the Certificate Program Regulations.

Psychotherapy training

You will be taught dynamically-based psychotherapies, with didactic sessions, seminars, and group case discussions or group supervision.

The Behavioural Science team teach a series of sessions on cognitive therapy and other evidence-based approaches during the winter months.


We strongly advise all trainees to use Intrain to keep a record of case based discussions and progress. Printing out the relevant forms and keeping a copy, in our view, is still wise because the system is not completely robust.

Within the Formal Education Course there will he places where certain WBAs can be met, with the view particular to meeting the EPAs relating to critical appraisal at Stage 2 and leadership in Stage 3.

Some EPAs, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander EPA, can be met completely by online experience.

Other experiences available

The academic staff in the Department are happy to meet with Registrars to discuss scholarly projects, and often supervise or co-supervise these projects.

There will also be opportunities to teach to undergraduates and to examine undergraduates offered to trainees by the Department of Psychological Medicine which can (a) help meet certain EPAs around education and (b) be part of preparation for the summative assessments, particularly the OSCE.

Ongoing meetings at the Department of Psychological Medicine

We expect active participation in the following as part of training:

  • Journal Club. This occurs at 1pm every Thursday during the academic year. Registrars, Consultants, and members of the Department present a critical appraisal of a paper. This is followed by a discussion of this paper.
  • Grand Round. This is held at 1pm on every Friday during the academic year. A case is presented, together with relevant scholarly findings, and a discussion then occurs.

Other useful teaching

  • PPP seminars. The Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology Interest Group have a semi-regular series of seminars that are circulated by email.
  • Ashburn Hall seminars. These are generally held on the first Monday of the month at 12pm. Various topics of interest to therapists are presented.
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