- They can offer assessments of plaintiff’s injuries, or the state of mind of a defendant during an alleged felonious act.
- Psychiatrists can be involved in treatment options for convicted criminals during their incarceration.
- They can be involved in competency hearings, for both defendants and expert witnesses.
As for competency hearings, the most obvious role for a psychiatrist concerns “power of attorney” actions. For example, if a patient’s leg is gangrenous, and must removed to save the patient’s life, and the patient refuses to have the operation, then a psychiatrist may be asked to assess the patient’s capacity to consent to the operation.
All of these descriptions illustrate how psychological considerations can impact the legal system. Conversely, there are occasions where the criminal justice system affects a psychiatrist’s actions. For example, when a psychiatrist is involved with situations including involuntary commitment, confidentiality, liability issues, and treating sex offenders, there are legal consideration s/he must consider when treating a patient.
We then moved to student questions, which I hope where helpful to all of you.
The Toolbox Question
Finally, I asked Dr. Appelbaum’s to answer our “toolbox” question, that is, what kinds of science classes should an undergrad enroll in order to successfully develop a career in science. He stated that undergrad students should make an effort to acquire hands-on experience in a clinical setting. Students can volunteer, or find ways to enter a courthouse or prison environment (in a non-felonious way ;-) . It is only after the iron bar doors slam shut that a student can truly know if working in a prison environment is a career worth pursuing.
So here's what our guest speakers have offered as advice to you, as you move through your undergrad experiences:
- Dr. Duan said being familiar with methodologies like statistics are good skills to have in your portfolio.
- Dr. Brooks stated that undergrad science student learn about a variety of ways to get information, based upon whether the inquiry focuses on individual or sociological phenomenon. Instead of just getting good at one particular scientific technique, like titration, students should become familiar with many different methodologies, so that when they are designing their own studies, they’ll know the best ways to get better data, and how to best interpret that data.
- And again, Dr. Appelbaum underscored the importance of obtaining experiences outside the classroom to learn about the environments that a scientist must work in, so to figure out if you are in fact comfortable in those environments.
Given all of the discussions we have had with our guest speakers to date, how might these discussions inform your matriculation at college in the near future?In other words, are there certain classes you are now interested in taking, activities you will look for on or off campus, or new research programs you will investigate as a result of your contact with these guest speakers?
Please write a 2-3 paragraph response to the question.