Clinical Psychiatric Officer (formerly known as Medical Assistant Psychiatry)


The original curriculum and related documents for this course can be accessed at the bottom of the page.  Note however that the course has developed and some documents have changed.  The most up to date versions are held at College of Health, Kintampo.

In Ghana a Clinical Psychiatric Officer (CPO) is a specialist 'Medical Assistant' (MA). CPO's have a high level of responsibility which includes making diagnoses and prescribing medication. (Note: Medical Assistants have since been renamed Physician Assistants).

Retention of Medical Assistants has been a problem. One cause of attrition has been a lack of career structure for Medical Assistants. In steps to address this, the Ministry of Health is introducing specialist courses for Medical Assistants and the first was in mental health. In 2012 specialisation in dermatology became available and there will also eventually be specialisation available in child health, obstetrics, ‘traumatology’, and district surgery.  You can read about why more mental health workers are needed on our 'What are We Doing' page

Brief summary of the CPO programme

  • The programme started in April 2010 with a first intake of 9 students at CoHK (Kintampo College of Health and Wellbeing)
  • Since 2011 the CPO intake has been up to 30 places / year every October
  • Training is 24 months plus 1-3 months 'housemanship', although this may change following the affiliation with UCC (University of Cape Coast)in 2016.
  • The qualification is 'Degree in Community Medicine and Clinical Psychiatry', although following the UCC affiliation it is probably going to change to a Masters level degree.
  • Practicing CPO's are supervised by Medical Officers and psychiatrists.
  • CPO's can diagnose and prescribe medication
  • Until workforce numbers are sufficient CPO's undertake a combination of regular MA duties and specialist duties. The balance is agreed in job descriptions.
  • Support for practicing CPO's is also provided from the UK (mainly SHFT) for many years after they start their work


The CPO curriculum document

Sample CPO course structure - 18 month calendar

Supplementary notes for course structure calendar

Preceptor manual (includes monitoring forms)

Notes for CPO educators and students

CPO programme outline - semester by semester