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Book Forum: Psychopharmacology   |    
ASCP Model Psychopharmacology Curriculum, 2nd ed., volumes 1 and 2
DAVID L. DUNNER, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2003;160:1199-1200. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.160.6.1199
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By the Committee of the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology, Ira D. Glick, M.D., Chair; James Ellison, M.D., James Halper, M.D., David S. Janowsky, M.D., R. Bruce Lydiard, M.D., Ph.D., Jessica Oesterheld, M.D., Peter Ross, and Sidney Zisook, M.D. New York, ASCP, 2001, 780 pp., $750.00 plus $150.00 for CD-ROM (price varies; contact ASCP for pricing range).

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This is a tremendous two-volume series for a very limited audience. The development of a model psychopharmacology curriculum intended for residency training programs has been the goal of a number of organizations. The American College of Clinical Psychopharmacology published their first edition of the model curriculum in 1997. The two volumes at hand comprise the second edition, and the third edition, according to Dr. Glick, will be available some time next year or the year after. The intended audience for the model curriculum is residency training programs and individuals whose lecture material consists of psychopharmacology. Given that there are approximately 120 residency training programs in the United States, the model psychopharmacology curriculum has a quite limited audience. I tried to determine if these volumes would be appropriate for other individuals: people studying for board examinations or medical students or people practicing psychopharmacology, for example. I don’t think the use is intended for these individuals as much as for training programs and people who are giving lectures.

The two volumes provide a demonstration of a didactic program in psychopharmacology with specific lecture topics concerning antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antianxiety agents, and hypnotics; psychopharmacology for the medically ill and for geriatric patients; substance abuse; psychopharmacology of aggression, ADHD, eating disorders, and personality disorders; and some special additional topics. There are case studies, slide sets, a list of books for patients and their families, a list of books and journals that are of use to help training, and a listing of rating scales that are used to assess psychopathology and change in the different conditions. On a personal note, I think clinicians too infrequently use rating scales to document the severity of their patients’ illness in treatment outcome. Having these rating scales in one volume is quite useful.

The second volume has a basic course for beginning residents (15 chapters), an advanced course for those in postgraduate years 3 and 4 (19 chapters), and information on child and adolescent psychopharmacology (six chapters). In addition, there are case vignettes. The slide sets are both in hard copy as well as on a CD-ROM.

I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Glick regarding the model curriculum and asked him a few questions about these volumes. First of all, it would be important to have a mechanism to update the information. Indeed, that is the case; the lectures are updated yearly with new lectures. People who purchase the books are given the opportunity to update the lecture material.

Second, consultation is available from Dr. Glick and others in the American College of Clinical Psychopharmacology regarding questions that arise. This is important because psychopharmacology is a fluid field, and changes in our knowledge about the medications and the availability of the medications occur quite rapidly. Providing an expert panel to update the didactic material makes the model psychopharmacology curriculum alive, and this becomes an exciting endeavor.

I reviewed a number of slide sets that were provided looking for what is current knowledge as well as searching hard for commercial bias. The knowledge is quite current, and I detected no commercial bias in the slide sets. Given that the current volume is approximately a year or more out of date, one would look forward to the updates that have occurred in the current year as well as the possibility of a newer edition in the next year or so.

I feel that the approach taken by this publication is required for training programs. The material is provided by experts in the field. The depth of the material is appropriate to the level that the residents should expect. The suggested readings and references are quite pertinent. The interaction of the purchasers of the model psychopharmacology curriculum with the members of the American College of Clinical Psychopharmacology provides an additional depth that goes beyond the actual pages of the text.

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