Hello, my name is Alan, I am currently a fourth year adult psychiatry resident at Yale in the Neuroscience Research Training Program (NRTP). I grew up about two and a half hours away just outside of Albany, NY, where my parents still live, which makes it easy to visit family. I majored in Chemistry as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, where I learned to love research and understand the importance of good mentors in one’s life. From there I moved to Chicago and completed the Medical Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University. In Chicago, I received not only MD and PhD degrees, but it was there that I met my wife, Trisha. We got married a few days before we moved to New Haven, and have lived in New Haven for more than three years.
Why I chose Yale
Choosing a residency is a complicated decision, but the goal is simple: Identify the setting where you will develop your clinical skills in general psychiatry, pinpoint the clinical and academic interests which truly excite you and learn how to best pursue them, develop meaningful relationships with peers and mentors that last beyond residency, and grow as a person outside of the hospital or lab. I chose Yale because I felt like this was the setting in which I could do all of the above. Why did I feel that way? I felt (and continue to feel) that at the center of the Yale residency are the residents themselves. Despite working in many large systems here, the program allows the flexibility to identify a four-year path to maximize development. Many programs strive for this goal, but it can only be achieved by a department that places these values at the forefront. As I complete my final year of the program, I can confidently say this is the case at Yale.
My schedule throughout my time at Yale testifies to the program’s commitment to flexibility. Toward the latter half of my intern year, I approached the leaders of the residency program and the NRTP with an idea to move the elective time of the PGY4 year to the PGY2 year, with the goal of developing a longitudinal, in-depth research experience during the entire residency. The program responded to this unorthodox request in a manner indicative of its general attitude: “This sounds like a request with a good justification, let’s figure out a way to make it work.” And work it did. I was able to spend considerable research time in the lab earlier in the residency, allowing me to identify specific research interests, learn new techniques, publish papers, and secure funding that will help set the stage for the next part of my career after residency. Furthermore, this allowed me to develop an incredibly valuable relationship with my mentor, Dr. Marina Picciotto, who has helped me mature as a researcher, team member, and educator.
Now as a PGY4, I am engaged in both clinical work and research. I am the current chief resident on the Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit and of the NRTP, and as such help to coordinate the unit’s activities and admissions; interface with clinicians and researchers throughout the medical school, hospital, and wider community; work with talented attendings, residents, and medical students; and provide direct patient care. In addition to this responsibility, I see patients for one half-day per week on the child psychiatry consultation service at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and another half-day per week at the West Haven VA Hospital geriatric psychiatry clinic. I also see long-term psychotherapy patients weekly and meet with my psychotherapy supervisor. Finally, I moonlight a few nights per month at nearby Silver Hill Hospital. This schedule continues to allow time to perform experiments in the lab.
Life as a fourth year resident
Every day is full and different, and I find the mix of clinical, administrative, and research duties to serve as great experience for a career as a physician-scientist. However, despite these responsibilities, my wife and I get to spend lots of time together and love taking weekend trips to fun places around New England.
Where I live
During our first year in New Haven, Trisha and I lived in East Rock, a leafy residential neighborhood that offers many easy commuting options to the medical campus. After a year, we decided we wanted to move from an apartment to a house. We settled in a house in the Whitneyville section of Hamden, the town north of New Haven. We fell in love with our little house, and as luck would have it the owner was interested in selling it! So we bought the house after renting it for one year, and we truly love it. We are fortunate to be living amongst fantastically welcoming neighbors. We also adopted a sweet, personality-filled greyhound named Tanner. Trisha and I love taking him for walks in the evening when we get home from work.
My Favorite New Haven Restaurants and Cultural Activities
Having moved from Chicago, we weren’t sure how the restaurant scene would stack up. We were incredibly surprised! While of course New Haven is smaller than Chicago, there are a variety of restaurants and food types for anyone. Some of our favorites are Da Legna, L’Orcio, Zinc, Caseus, and Heirloom, to name a few. New Haven as a city has many music and intellectual venues to visit, as do the surrounding towns. Trisha and I went to hear War one weekend on the New Haven Green, and the next weekend heard Kansas in Hamden. It was awesome! We’ve also taken numerous weekend trips, including to Cape Cod, Portsmouth, and the Berkshires.
Yale’s residency program “gets it.” While all of the residents undoubtedly work hard, we are much more than a labor force. Psychiatry is growing rapidly, and the physicians entering the field have diverse interests and contribute to the field in highly individual ways. This is both recognized and celebrated by the residency program! I look forward to welcoming you to our program, and hope you enjoy it as much as I have.