A Day in the Life of a PGY-2 Resident


My background

Hello there! My name is Ayana. I'm a second-year psychiatry resident at Yale. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate, I majored in Biology at Hampton University, a historically black university, in Hampton, Virginia. After college, I moved to Silver Spring, MD and conducted basic research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. In 2003, I left NIH and began an MD/PhD program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York. Originally, I planned to pursue a career in internal medicine, but became extremely passionate and interested in psychiatry, particularly studying Black populations that undergo chronic stress, triggering dependence on drug and alcohol and leading to depression, mood disorders, and/or psychotic disorders. In my spare time I enjoy dancing, reading, and watching independent films and documentaries.

Why I chose Yale

I specifically chose Yale because of its commitment to and success in recruiting the brightest, most interesting, diverse group of residents from around the globe. Yale is also committed to academic excellence, which is reflected in the rich didactic curriculum. Additionally, there is an immense amount of research, which allows residents to explore any area within the vast field of psychiatry. I feel privileged to be among and work with such an AMAZING, supportive group of people.

My schedule

The second year is divided into four 3-month blocks. The first block is on an inpatient unit at Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital (YNHPH), the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC), or the CMHC's Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit (CNRU). The second block includes 2 months of consult-liaison psychiatry at the Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) or at the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital, and one month of emergency psychiatry at YNHH or at the VA. The third block includes 6 weeks at the dual diagnosis inpatient unit at YNHPH or the VA, and 6 weeks at the geriatric inpatient unit at YNHPH or the VA.

This final block is a wonderfully unique feature of our program, called the Clinical and Academic Skills Enhancement (CASE) rotation, which is limited only by your imagination. During CASE, you may use the time to delve into your particular interests. Some of my colleagues have used this time to study cross-cultural psychiatry in China and London. Others have used CASE to pursue an academic research project, or to hone clinical skills as part of a patient-centered rotation. As a result, many residents have the opportunity to publish in top-notch journals. The really great part of second year is that the order of blocks is based on resident preference.

Life as a second-year resident

So far, my first 3 months have been on the inpatient unit at YNHPH. I am thoroughly enjoying this experience. Not only do I look forward to going to the unit each day, but I really respect and admire the attendings and staff I work with. I also have the opportunity to treat a plethora of psychiatric illnesses, in an acute hospital setting, where the primary goal is to stabilize patients and get them established or re-connected with outpatient follow up. Further, I have the AWESOME and unique experience of learning and performing electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) three days per week.

Another great aspect of second year so far is the truly terrific didactic curriculum that takes place 3 days per week in the summer and 1 day per week in the fall. The highlights for me have been the sessions at the beginning of the year devoted to getting to know more about my co-residents and their passions for pursuing psychiatry. I also really enjoyed “brain camp,” a look at psychiatry from a basic neuroscience perspective. Currently, we are in the middle of “mind camp,” learning about psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapies. I am looking forward to the remainder of the year and all that it has to offer. I feel I’ve done and learned so much already and it has only been 2 months! Up next for me, is inpatient substance abuse for 6 weeks at YNHPH.

Where I live

Let me tell you, I LOVE where I live—hands down! I live in a beautiful section of New Haven called Wooster Square, which is famous for Italian restaurants (yummy), including the home of the first American pizza pie—Frank Pepe’s. It’s just an overall enjoyable place to live. The neighborhood is extremely safe and has a nice mix of young, single urbanites, new families, working professionals, and baby boomers. Wooster Square hosts a Farmers' Market every Saturday and I can walk to downtown New Haven in 5-7 minutes, walk to the train station in 10 minutes, and walk to work at YNHPH in 15 minutes.

My favorite Yale and New Haven cultural activities

Yale has many great restaurants, especially for such a small city, but I would have to say my favorite is Mama Mary’s Soul Food restaurant on Whalley Avenue, followed closely by Sally’s Pizzeria on Wooster St—DELICIOUS, really and truly. Surprisingly, there are also a lot of great cultural activities. My faves so far have been the free summer hip-hop and jazz concerts on the New Haven Green and the Martin Luther King holiday tribute at the Peabody museum. The museum had an excellent display of MLK's accomplishments, contributions to race relations, followed by African drumming and a poetry slam contest. Who knew New Haven had so much to offer?!!

Final thoughts

As I reflect on my time here at Yale thus far, I am just so happy and convinced that I made the right decision. At first, I was apprehensive to leave NYC. However, the supportive environment, my wonderful co-residents, the amazing faculty, and the educational and personal experiences have only reaffirmed my decision. I feel honored and fortunate to be amongst such a special group and I really think it is a reflection of the vision and commitment Yale Psychiatry has to recruit the best and most diverse applicants. If you have any questions about the PGY-2 year or life at Yale, do not hesitate to contact me directly.