A Day in the Life of a PGY-3 NRTP Resident
Hello, I'm Sarah. I grew up in a small college town in the Midwest. I’ve always liked to read novels and think about stories. As I was working on a graduate project with mouse neural stem cells as part of my MD/PhD training, I continued clinical work in local free clinics. For me, the lab and clinical work fit together as I thought about the brain and mind making stories about people’s lives. My psychiatry rotations affirmed the possibility of integrated and creative engagement with people and neuroscience research.
Why I chose Yale
At Yale, I met basic scientists who talked brightly about patients, residents thinking about how novels and media and mice related to clinical care, and psychotherapists interested in neuroscience. This place seemed colorful, dynamic, and integrated!
Since arriving, my mentors have helped me develop subtleties of interview technique from psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, and motivational interviewing perspectives. They have me writing regularly, including creatively! They challenge me to manage difficult psychopharmacology cases. They brainstorm with me as I design a clinical research protocol.
In my third year, I am participating in the Neuroscience Research Training Program (NRTP). I am primarily located at the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC), which is across the street from Yale-New Haven Hospital. My schedule is roughly half research and half clinical work.
On Monday mornings I go to the MRI research facility, where I meet Dr. Phil Corlett, a schizophrenia researcher. I greet his patients and provide medical supervision for experimental drug infusions. We discuss social neuroscience data and develop plans for collaborative experiments. At noon, we walk the two blocks to the CMHC together, sometimes stopping for lunch at my favorite food cart on Cedar St (Labibel Ethiopian!).
Monday afternoons, I work in CMHC's Specialized Treatment for Early Psychosis (STEP) clinic. We sit together in interdisciplinary table rounds from 12-1pm, then see patients all afternoon. I have my own office among the psychosis clinicians and I work closely with a nurse on the team who helps me to do case management, psychotherapy, and clozapine monitoring. I also set aside one hour for a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) patient during this clinic.
On Tuesday mornings, I have protected time for research. In this early phase of my work, I have been reading and writing a proposal and associated human subjects protocols. I work at home and in local coffee shops (Fuel in Wooster Square, or sometimes Romeo’s Café n East Rock).
Tuesday afternoons I focus on psychodynamic psychotherapy. I come into the office to meet patients and to read about related issues. At 5pm, I head over to the Psychoanalytic Institute for the third-year didactic series on psychodynamic psychotherapy. Then, I usually have dinner or go to the gym with other residents. Once a month, I help to lead the Yale Philosophy and Psychiatry Group in the evening.
Wednesdays, I have research time with a break for substance abuse group supervision then lunch with the CMHC physicians group (including the center directors, a great discussion!), then I spend a few hours moonlighting at a local low-income mental health clinic to get extra practice with medication management.
Thursday mornings the PGY3 class meets for two hours of didactic learning (8-10 am). We have cognitive behavioral therapy then psychopharmacology most weeks, each with a brief interactive lecture followed by role plays. I usually have a coffee or a walk through a nearby garden or museum with my classmates/friends after class, then head back to work for the afternoon in STEP clinic. About once a month, I have one of my favorite meetings: a long lunch at a Thai restaurant with my writing mentor. This is not an official residency activity, but one the program helped me find. We eat together and laugh a lot, and gradually, I have become someone who writes. At 4pm, I end the day with small group supervision and journal club in the STEP clinic.
On Friday, I start early (7:30 am) with an hour of my personal psychotherapy. Then I go to psychodynamic psychotherapy supervision from 9-10. I hurry a little to get to Psychiatry Grand Rounds. From 12-1, I attend journal club and the Neuroscience Research Training Program seminar. At 1pm, I meet my CBT supervisor. In the afternoon, I see patients and complete paperwork from the week, usually finishing by 6pm.
Weekends are typically free of clinical work. I do have ~25 call shifts this year (12 hours overnight or on weekend days). I often hike or bike locally, or sometimes take weekend trips to beautiful places in the area (Cape Cod, Vermont, upstate New York, etc.). I like to take the Metro-North train to Manhattan for the day (~90 min ride and $14). If I’m home, I bake bread and go to one of the several Farmers' Markets in New Haven.
Where I live
I live in East Rock, a residential neighborhood just north of downtown. I rent the third floor of a renovated old house, and I share two porches and a vegetable garden with my neighbors. The Yale shuttle stops in front of my house during commuting hours and gets me to campus in ~35 minutes. In nice weather, I bike to work, which is a little faster. I also have a parking spot next to the hospital provided by CMHC, and can get there in fewer than 10 minutes. I like East Rock because it’s convenient to work, but a little bit removed from the bustle of downtown. I use the public tennis courts at the high school here and the running trails in East Rock Park. I walk around the block to the small corner grocery for a few things before dinner. I meet friends on foot for dinner or drinks in the evening.
My favorite Yale and New Haven cultural activities
I love the Yale Cabaret. You can catch one of their small black box theater productions most weekends in the afternoon, early evening, or midnight. You can head over early to share dinner with friends or strangers at little tables before the show. On special nights, there is music or discussion after the show in the tiny stone amphitheater outside the building.
Also, the Whitney Humanities Center hosts many varied events - film, humanities, arts, and more!
I think the best thing about psychiatry at Yale is that you’ll be well supported to excel in the ways that matter most to YOU.