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Fellowship Director's Message

Our program’s goal is to offer the highest quality experience in forensic psychiatry training, while balancing the fellows’ unique opportunities to enjoy the culture of a great American city, New Orleans.  Fellows that come to our program receive not only excellent training; they get to experience life in a city as intriguing as its history.

I’m a native of Louisiana and take pride in directing a program at Tulane.  My forensic background is diverse, as I completed a forensic fellowship in New England with the aim of bringing that diversity of experience back to Louisiana.  As well, we have a large forensic faculty, some of whom have trained at Tulane, but the lion’s share of our primary teaching faculty have completed fellowships at external programs and lend to a broad training experience for our fellows. 

The didactic curriculum of Tulane's fellowship is administered by over 10 board-certified forensic psychiatrists in addition to neurologists, psychologists, and attorneys affiliated with Tulane.  Tulane’s Forensic Division is among the largest in the United States in terms of number of faculty members.  We run most of Louisiana’s forensic programs, and this equates to fellows getting a wide-ranging experience within the state’s forensic system.

Fellows spend two days a week at ELMHS, Forensic Division (formerly Feliciana Forensic Facility), a secure inpatient facility where they become adept in competency to stand trial evaluations and competency restoration, violence risk assessments, and management of potentially violent patients.  Feliciana Forensic Facility is an historical place that has seen the likes of two patients whose legal cases found their way to the U. S. Supreme Court and are now part of AAPL’s landmark cases that forensic fellows study nationwide (see Foucha vs. Louisiana and Louisiana vs. Perry).  Such history adds to the rotation and brings life to the Landmark Case Seminars conducted there.

Fellows at Tulane receive extensive courtroom experience at the Orleans Criminal District court, where they evaluate defendants and testify frequently.  Orleans Criminal District court is a place as unique as New Orleans itself, and the court received a good deal of infamy after Hurricane Katrina, what with the novel systems issues that arose following the hurricane (see Judge Vows to Free Inmates Held Since Katrina Hit).  The legal professionals who work at the court look forward to the new crop of fellows each year.  Past fellows have indicated that this rotation more than prepared them for testifying in their forensic practices.  This experience is augmented by a mock trial held at Orleans Criminal District court each year in collaboration with the Criminal Litigation Clinic of Tulane Law School.

The criminal forensic experience is equally balanced by a strong civil forensic psychiatry component; fellows rotate weekly with highly experienced senior faculty persons on cases including personal injury, child custody, malpractice, and testamentary capacity, among other issues.  Fellows get hands-on experience with such cases and are well-prepared to conduct civil forensic evaluations after completing the fellowship.

Our fellows engage in scholarly work and each fellow in recent years has published in a forensic journal, for instance, Legal Digest case writeups for the AAPL journal (see, for instance Malpractice Action Stemming from Court-Ordered Independent Medical Examination).  Others have co-authored textbook chapters, journal articles, or presented at national or regional meetings.

Our past fellows have gone on to have successful careers in forensic psychiatry.  Our most recent survey of graduates indicated that most enter academic positions and stay involved in teaching, scholarly work, and conducting forensic evaluations, while others have entered burgeoning private forensic practices.  Still others have leadership positions in their states’ respective forensic systems; some of their positions include being director of the forensic division of a large state psychiatric hospital, director of a major metro jail system’s psychiatric services, director of a major metro’s forensic assertive community treatment team, chief psychiatric coroner for a major metro—and the list goes on. 

We were recently site-visited by ACGME and received renewed accreditation for the fellowship, with the next site visit scheduled five years post-visit.  This is a testament to the strength of our fellowship.  I invite you to browse our website to learn about each rotation, our didactics, and to view profiles of some of our faculty.  Once you do, we are sure you will be interested in contacting Debbie Leon, our program coordinator, to request application information.  We look forward to hearing from you at

John W. Thompson, Jr. MD

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000