A Day in the Life of a PGY-2 Resident


My Background

Hey everyone! My name is Neil, and I’m a second-year psychiatry resident at Yale. I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio. I attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, for college, where I majored in Zoology and ran a Big Brothers Big Sisters afterschool program. After undergrad, I moved to Chicago for a year, where I worked in a lab studying the apoptotic pathway at Northwestern University. From there, I went on to attend medical school at West Virginia University, where I learned to love working with primary care patients in a rural setting. I first became interested in psychiatry during a developmental psychology course during undergrad, and positive experiences throughout medical school really solidified psychiatry as a career choice. In my spare time, I like to go to dinner and happy hours with my amazing co-residents, listen to indie rock, check out art museums, and visit my partner in NYC as often as possible.

Why I Chose Yale

What really grabbed me about Yale was the people I met during my interview. Starting with the tour the night before the interview and dinner at a local sushi joint with the residents, you could tell there was a warmth and kindness that just permeated throughout the department. The residents seemed extremely happy and willing to discuss any aspects of the program as well as what they enjoyed about New Haven. I felt welcomed on the interview day with meetings with the program director, assistant program directors, and the chair of the department. Each interviewer seemed particularly interested in me as an individual – it was obvious they had actually read my application and wanted to know more. I was thrilled to find out that, after moving to New Haven before intern year started, the program had recruited an amazingly diverse group of fun, energetic and super smart co-interns with whom I’ve grown and continue to learn from.

My Schedule

Second year of residency is when you really delve into the depths of psychiatry and start to hone and refine the skills that you started to learn intern year. Our year is divided into 2 months on the Consult Liaison Service, 1 month in the Psychiatric Emergency Room, 3 months of inpatient psychiatry, 6 weeks of Geriatric Psychiatry, 6 weeks of Substance Abuse, and 3 months of CASE, which is elective time when we get in-depth experience on a topic of our choosing.

One of the awesome parts of second year is the diversity of clinical training sites. Yale has it’s own free-standing psychiatric hospital (Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital), a community mental health center (Connecticut Mental Health Center), a Veterans Affairs hospital (the West Haven VA), and a private, tertiary referral hospital (Yale-New Haven Hospital). You can tailor your second year to have experiences in each of these settings, allowing for a wide breadth of clinical exposure to diverse patient populations.

In addition, Yale offers 3 months of elective time during second year through the CASE rotation. During these 3 months, residents have traveled to Sierra Leone, gained experience in psychodynamic psychotherapy, and started research projects studying brain structure and function using advanced imaging techniques. I found this aspect of the residency to be particularly unique and appealing – no other program on the interview trail gave this much elective time this early in training. You also can continue the work you start this year during third and fourth year with protected scholarly time available in later years.

Life as a Second Year Resident

I’m currently wrapping up my 2nd month on the Consult Liaison Service at the West Haven VA. My day starts around 8am, when the team hears about any overnight events on the patients we’re following or any new consults. I typically catch up on nursing notes and medication changes before going to see my patients at 9am. Around 11am, I head to PGY-2 didactics, where our entire class comes together to hear talks on a range of topics. Right now, we’re in “Mind Camp,” which is a month-long psychotherapy course with lectures on DBT, CBT, motivational interviewing, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and the theory underlying each modality. After lecture, I head back to work, where I discuss my cases with a CL attending and then follow-up with the primary team on any new recommendations. Our team signs out to the overnight attending around 4:30pm, when I head home for the night.

Call during second year is spread evenly throughout the entire class, averaging less than one 24-hour shift every 10 days. Our call is spent either covering Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital, admitting new patients and fielding any issues that come up in the night, or covering Connecticut Mental Health Center along with any urgent consults at YNHH. Call so far has been very manageable with multiple regular work days and free weekends in between shifts – one of the perks of having a large group of co-residents. Lucky for me, I’ve gotten at least 7 hours of sleep per call shift too!

Where I Live

I live in a 1-bedroom apartment in a part of New Haven called “Chapel West,” which is directly west of campus near the intersection of Chapel Street and Howe Street. I really love my part of town. I live less than a block away from campus and within walking distance to awesome restaurants (Mamoun’s for falafel), bars (Rudy’s for that hipster vibe), stores (J.Crew and the Apple Store on Broadway), and theaters (Yale Repertory Theater in what looks like an old red brick church). After work or on weekends, I often walk downtown to meet my classmates for happy hours or dinner and drinks. My apartment is a 10-minute walk from Yale-New Haven Hospital and CMHC, 10-minute walk from St. Raphael’s Campus, and a 15-20-minute walk from Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital. I have a car and drive to the VA, which is about a 15-20-minute drive.

My Favorite New Haven Restaurants and Cultural Activities

I’ve been really impressed by all that New Haven has to offer. Yale Art Gallery is one of my favorite places to go to relax over a long weekend and look at art and artifacts. There, you can find just about anything you’re looking for, including impressionist art, multiple Sol Lewitt installations, and even pieces of the Ishtar Gate from ancient Babylon. Yale Repertory Theater, located right across the street from the art museum, puts on 6 productions throughout the year. Last year, I was able to make it to half of them, and all were fantastic.

As far as food goes, New Haven has a very vibrant restaurant scene, something I was particularly excited about before moving here. Some favorites include Great Wall for dim sum on weekends, Rudy’s for a burger and fries with a huge range of dipping sauces, Mamoun’s for falafel 365 days a year, and Mezcal for a margarita and some tasty Mexican food. You definitely won’t go hungry in New Haven.

Final Thoughts

There were some basic things I wanted in a residency program – multiple training sites, diverse patient populations, exposure to a variety of treatment modalities including psychotherapy and accessible research, all of which Yale has. The one real “must-have” was a program where I’d feel comfortable with supervisors and co-residents I was excited to work with. I’ve found all of this at Yale – awesome co-residents who have become some of my best friends, accessible faculty who are excited to teach, and a supportive administration to make me feel right at home. I’ve loved my time at Yale so far, and can’t wait to see what the rest of my years here have to offer me.