PIT5005 - Psychiatry of the medically ill - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.


Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Organisational Unit

School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Fiona Best


Dr Phyllis Chua

Unit guides




For M6022 students enrolled in Master of Psychiatry stream of MMentHlthSc (MMHS), this unit will be undertaken in the second or third year of course.


Must be enrolled in M6022

Psychiatry-in-Training students are advised to take this unit in the semester of their clinical placement in C-L Psychiatry training.


This unit will cover essentials needed to provide Consultation-Liaison (C-L) Psychiatry services within a general hospital context which involves the psychiatric care of the medically ill patient.

Students will develop an understanding of both the theoretical underpinnings of the mind-body interface and the essential skills in recognising, assessing and managing mental illness within a general medical context.

The unit will include consideration of specific C-L disorders including psychosomatic, conversion, hypochrondriacal, delirium, cognitive impairment; and the psychiatric consequences of pregnancy, cancer, renal, neurological, cardiac, respiratory, infectious, endocrine and gastrointestinal disorders; as well as specialised psychiatric management of the medically ill.

Emphasis is placed on acquiring in depth knowledge of the interviewing and assessment of the medically ill patient; the impact of medical illness on normal development, illness behaviour, cultural, ethical and systemic issues.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Appraise the history of psychosomatic medicine and theories of adaptation to illness, including the key determinants of personal, developmental, familial, and social factors in adjusting to medical illness within key theoretical frameworks, and resultant models of care across the developmental lifespan.
  2. Implement competent psychiatric assessment, interviewing and diagnostic investigation of the medically ill, attending to family, staff and systems issues with cultural sensitivity, professionalism, effective multidisciplinary teamwork and insight into complex ethical dimensions that exist in medical illness.
  3. Integrate complex understanding of the biological, psychological, social and spiritual dimensions of people with medical illness to enrich the formulation of their psychiatric disorders,
  4. Demonstrate an awareness of the complex interaction between mental health, physical illness and medications.
  5. Examine existentially-oriented and psychotherapeutic principles of management of the patient, their family and multidisciplinary treatment team and distinguish different mental health interventions that can be applied to optimise wellbeing, foster effective communication and harness the therapeutic environment in a general hospital medical or surgical setting.
  6. Evaluate the evidence-base from research in the management of the medically ill and their families.


  • 4 x On-line commentaries (500 words each) (30% total)
  • Written essay (2,000 words) (30%)
  • Case study (2,000 words) (30%)
  • Presentation at Weekend Workshop (10%) (Hurdle)

Workload requirements

12 hours per week - 2 hours of lectures, 2 hours of directed online student learning activities, plus 8 hours of self-directed study per week.

Participation in a two-day residential interactive workshop experience (9:00 am - 5:00 pm on campus) to demonstrate that application of theory to practice is mandated.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study