A Day in the Life of a PGY-1 Resident


My Background

Welcome! My name is Joe Gallego, and I am a PGY-1 Psychiatry Resident at Yale. I was born and raised in Yorba Linda, California, and moved to Tempe, Arizona for undergrad at ASU where I studied Spanish. I attended Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota, where my primary charge was LGBTQI advocacy and medical education. I published a curriculum to teach health care providers culturally competent and evidence-based practices in caring for members of the LGBTQI community. Psychiatry stole my heart during the introductory course at the beginning of the second year of medical school. I remember excitedly thinking to myself, “I can’t believe I can actually choose this to be my career!” Psychiatry explores the aspect of life from which I derive most of my passion and curiosity: the human connection between self and others.

Why Yale

On the residency interview trail, I searched for a program that left me feeling engaged and inspired. I remember calling my partner immediately after my interview day at Yale to tell him, “I found it!”

Yale Psychiatry struck me as the total package. The Program Director, Dr. Rohrbaugh, opened the interview day by saying, “Here at Yale, we aim not just to create fantastic psychiatrists, but future leaders in 21st century psychiatry.” Each faculty member with whom I interviewed was genuinely interested in getting to know me as a person and potential match for the culture and energy of the program. The professionalism of the residents, faculty, and staff was only overshadowed by their affability. In addition, as I am interested in curricular design and teaching, Associate Program Director Dr. Ross’s introduction to the meticulously designed didactic curriculum was spectacular. Another huge draw for me was the fact that residents could choose between very distinct populations (e.g., Spanish-speaking, low socioeconomic status, veterans, or college students) for the PGY-3 outpatient psychotherapy training year.

To top it all off, the program’s highly customizable schedule of one and three months of dedicated elective time in the PGY-1 and PGY-2 years, respectively, in addition to an entirely elective PGY-4 year, allows for residents to continue to develop expertise in whatever passions they fostered in medical school.

My Schedule

My intern year began with internal medicine wards at the VA Hospital in West Haven. Prior to this experience, I had never rotated in a VA before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The night before my rotation started, I received sign-out on six patients – a much larger census than the two-three patients I was responsible for at one time as a medical student. As if six patients weren’t overwhelming enough, I ended up admitting four more during my first on-call day. My typical schedule for internal medicine wards at the VA was 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, six days per week. It was a challenging first four weeks, but starting on one of the harder rotations gave me the confidence to manage what I would face next.

I then completed two weeks of internal medicine wards at Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH), followed by two weeks of night float. As a night float intern, your job is to rotate between four different internal medicine services at YNHH in order to cover that service’s primary night intern on their night off. For this reason, you are being introduced to 10-15 new patients each night and admitting up to three additional patients. You present your new patients to the team in the morning, often leave the hospital by 8:30 am, go home to sleep during the day, and return by 6:30 pm the next night to cover a different service. At times, I was the only doctor on the floor caring for 20 patients overnight. While there were definitely stressful moments, the internal medicine faculty, co-residents, and chief residents were incredibly helpful and encouraging. Your new job title requires you to rise to the occasion, and you end up being able to do just that!

Where I Live

My partner, Paul, and I live in Stamford with our dog, Maggie. Stamford is the halfway point between Manhattan, where Paul works, and New Haven. Paul commutes via the Metro North train, and I drive approximately 45 minutes to and from work each day. While this is obviously not ideal, we are happy that we get to live together even though we work in different cities. Paul works as a scientist in biotechnology, so New Haven’s proximity to New York City was actually a huge draw for us due to the incredible career opportunities available to him in Manhattan.

My favorite things to do in/around New Haven

New Haven is a great little city! There are a ton of delicious restaurants, cute coffee shops, and museums. I love the food trucks that line the street near YNHH, and I will occasionally have some Ali Baba’s Lemon Chicken and chase that down with a Blue State iced coffee for lunch. Easily, my favorite activities in/around New Haven are spending time with my amazing co-residents. Seriously, these people are some of the most brilliant, kind, funny, and passionate individuals I have ever met. You’re going to love being with other like-minded folks who care deeply about the very issues that drew you to psychiatry in the first place.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a residency program is not the same thing as choosing an undergraduate university or a medical school. At the end of the day, you are interviewing for and selecting a job. Do your best to remember what it is that fuels you outside of work, and rank highly the programs that allow you to prioritize those important things. If Yale happens to be one of those programs, I can assure you, you will not be disappointed. The psychiatric world is your oyster here. I’m certain I speak on behalf of everyone in the department when I say we are excited to meet you soon!