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Forensic Psychiatry Track

Track Objectives:

  • To provide psychiatry residents with a strong interest in forensic psychiatry with an opportunity to:  Expand knowledge in forensic psychiatry beyond the level normally expected of a resident physician.
  • Increase academic achievement and publication in forensics.
  • Experience forensic psychiatry in multiple clinical and court settings.
  • Increase exposure to forensics earlier in residency in order to facilitate career and fellowship decisions.   

Application and acceptance:

Residents apply in the second half of their PGY 1 year.  Acceptance is determined by residency director in conjunction with the track director and the Clinical Competency Committee.  

Track Structure

PGY 1 

Interested residents are encouraged to meet with the track director to discuss their interest in forensic psychiatry.  Residents are encouraged to discuss the track acceptance criteria with the residency program director at their semi-annual performance evaluation.


Residents will attend monthly “Forensics Rounds” with Guillermo Portillo, MD from January through April.   In this lecture series, Dr. Portillo will examine the different realms of forensic psychiatry, understand the basics of preparing for a forensic psychiatric evaluation and explore the subtleties of writing a forensic psychiatric report. 

Residents will spend one month at the end of their PGY 2 year of training on a forensic psychiatry rotation with Barbara Ziv, MD.  Residents will observe one or all the following: trial, forensic interview, discussion with defendant attorney/private attorney in relation to a forensic case.   Residents will read key literature provided by Dr. Ziv.  During this rotation residents will write a forensic report.  When possible, this will be an actual report.  A “model” report will be substituted when residents are not able to participate in an actual forensic report.


From January through April, residents are expected to attend the community forensic psychiatry seminar at the University of Pennsylvania, held on Tuesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. no less than once per month.  Residents are encouraged to attend more frequently as their clinical schedule allows.

Residents will attend monthly “Forensics Rounds” with Guillermo Portillo, MD from January through April.   


The first 3 months of the PGY 4 year are expected to be dedicated to forensic psychiatry electives.  

At least one month will be spent rotating with Larry Rotenberg, MD.  Dr.  Rotenberg is a forensic psychiatrist whose practice extends throughout Pennsylvania but is based in Reading, PA.  Dr. Rotenberg’s practice is 75% criminal and 25% civil.  During this rotation residents will experience forensic psychiatry evaluations, report writing, and occasional testimony in the following (by no means all inclusive) cases:  first degree homicide, post-conviction relief when the Commonwealth is asking for the death penalty, decertification of adolescents from Adult Criminal Court to Juvenile Court, aggravated and simple assault.  Residents will increase knowledge base regarding competence to stand trial, M’Naghten Standard of criminal responsibility, occasional diminished capacity, “guilty but mentally ill” standard (Section 314 of the crimes code), and competence to wave Miranda Rights.  Civil cases may include termination of parental rights, testamentary capacity, competence to manage one’s own affairs or person, and medical malpractice.  Residents will also be exposed to crisis intervention in various big firms locally and nationally. Reading assignments will be discussed and outlined by Dr. Rotenberg and the resident physician. 

Residents are highly encouraged to pursue “audition electives” at external departments where they are planning to apply to fellowship.

Residents are expected to either submit a paper in field of forensic psychiatry for publication or to present scholarly activity at a national conference during their PGY 3 or 4 year.  
Residents will attend monthly “Forensics Rounds” with Guillermo Portillo, MD from January through April.