Psychiatry was first organized as a clinical section in the mid 1960s when the University of Hawaii created a two year medical school from existing basic science programs on the Manoa campus. Walter Char MD headed the section, assisted by psychiatric practitioners in Honolulu who volunteered their time teaching behavioral science to first and second year medical students.
In 1969, John McDermott MD was recruited to develop the section into a medical school department as the school evolved into a full degree granting program. He and Dr Char created a full four year psychiatry curriculum for medical students, and reorganized the existing one year residency programs at Hawaii State Hospital and Queens Medical Center into a single four year accredited John A Burns School of Medicine program at the University of Hawaii, integrating the several affiliated community hospitals.
The first accredited subspecialty training was added in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry shortly thereafter. Further subspecialties in Addiction, Geriatric, and Forensic Psychiatry were developed as Naleen Andrade MD succeeded him as Department chair in 1995, and major new research initiatives were undertaken, including the establishment of the National Center on Indigenous Hawaiian Behavioral Health, making the Department of Psychiatry a national leader in cross cultural research as well as in education and training.