NYU Department of Psychiatry Senior Elective: Psychiatry in Ghana

Korle Bu Teaching Hospital Department of Psychiatry, Accra, Ghana

Visiting with Ghanaian attendings.

This elective is the product of an international program piloted in 2013-2014 by two NYU psychiatry residents and the residency program director, Dr. Carol Bernstein. It is an integral part of a collaborative institutional relationship between the NYU Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Ghana School of Medicine and Dentistry (UGSMD¬). As in many low and middle-income countries, Ghana suffers from a severe shortage of mental health specialists: there are currently 16 psychiatrists for a population of 25 million. The pipeline for Ghanaian psychiatrists remains restricted for the foreseeable future given recent trends and the low expressed interest in the field by junior medical trainees. The few senior psychiatric specialists are over-extended with clinical and other professional duties leaving them with minimal time to teach and mentor trainees. This limits opportunities for mentorship, modeling, teaching, and curricular development, which impacts trainees’ motivation to enter a highly stigmatized and under-resourced field. The primary goals of the NYUSOM-UGSMD Undergraduate Medical Education Initiative, and this new NYU elective are (1) to provide educational support to medical students and residents at the University of Ghana School of Medicine and Dentistry and (2) to provide an international experience for NYU residents with a strong interest in leadership in global mental health and underserved populations.

The elective will allow selected PGY-4 residents the opportunity to spend 4 weeks on-site in Accra, Ghana. Residents will spend 50% of their time engaged in clinical observation at both Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and Accra Psychiatric Hospital, and the remainder of the time teaching UGSMD medical students, residents, and rotating house officers.  There will also be expectations for these residents on-site at NYU as they will be actively involved in the continued development of the NYU-UGMS Undergraduate Medical Educational Initiative.

Course Coordinators


  • Helena Hansen, MD, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, NYU Departments of Psychiatry and Anthropology)
  • Sammy Ohene, MD (Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of Ghana Medical School)