A Day in the Life of a PGY-1 Resident


My background

Hi, my name is Gerrit. I was born on a farm in a rural province of South Africa, and moved to the city of Cape Town when I started school. I completed medical school at Stellenbosch University, where I was involved in clinical research in psychiatry, medical education and bioethics. Outside of medicine, I pursued the study of piano and flute. I sought to do my residency in the United States in order to broaden my clinical exposure, and become involved with cutting-edge psychiatric research.

Why I chose Yale

The residency program at Yale was my unambiguous first choice for a number of reasons. Firstly, I felt that it would be the most supportive environment for me to pursue my rather unusual research interests, given the diversity of work being done by both the clinical and research faculty. Secondly, I was impressed by the great diversity of training sites, which I suspect is unequaled by any other U.S. psychiatry residency. Finally, my interactions with both residents and faculty gave me the impression of an incredibly warm and energetic environment, and ultimately one in which I felt I would be happy.

My schedule

The first year involves six months of medicine, either at the Hospital of St Raphael’s, or Yale-New Haven Hospital. I have been particularly happy at St Raphael’s, as it has more of a “community hospital” feel and has also given me the opportunity to enjoy early exposure to child and adolescent psychiatry as part of a 4 week elective during my medicine months. After completing my medicine rotation I will spend eight weeks on neurology, and the rest of the year will be divided between adult and child and adolescent psychiatry.

Life as a first-year resident

To date I have had a wonderful first year of residency. Work has kept me busy, but I have learned a great deal about being a more efficient and effective clinician. The focus on the acquisition of these generic outcomes during the medicine rotation will allow me to apply what I have learned throughout the remainder of my residency. My typical day starts at around 7:00 am, which allows me ample time to round on my patients. Mornings tend to be busy, with the goal being to complete most management tasks before the daily noon conference. The afternoons generally allow for more time to engage in directed learning, and I am seldom kept at the hospital after 5:00. My evenings have thus far largely been dedicated to social activities, as there is sufficient time during the day to keep up with the academic requirements of the internal medicine rotation. I have, however, been able to get a good amount of reading done on diverse topics in psychiatry, and have started working on a research proposal.

Where I live

I live in the East Rock neighborhood of New Haven, and am very happy with my choice. I am able to lease a much larger apartment here than I would have been able to downtown, but I am still very close to a Yale Shuttle stop. The area is filled with fantastic Italian delis and coffee shops, with many other residents living nearby.

My favorite New Haven restaurant and cultural activities

My partner and I have been focusing on enjoying New Haven’s famous pizza, but are really looking forward to the start of the classical music program at the Yale School of Music. Most of the concerts are free to Yale affiliates and take place in the magnificent Woolsey Hall. Besides music, we also enjoy making use of the other Yale facilities, such as the many libraries, lawns and public spaces, and even the gymnasium.

Final thoughts

I would encourage anyone who is interested in pursuing a residency in psychiatry to explore what Yale has to offer. I honestly cannot think of a specific career goal that would not be well facilitated by the program, and perhaps equally importantly, I believe that the residency experience available here can be a truly fulfilling one – that has certainly been my experience thus far!