A Day in the Life of a PGY-4 Resident


My Background

Hi, I’m Youngsun, and I am a fourth-year psychiatry resident at Yale. I grew up in upstate New York, outside of Rochester. I attended MIT for college, and then the University of Rochester for an MD/PhD degree. I was initially attracted to psychiatry because I had an interest in behavior through acting in college. As medical school continued, I also became interested in the brain. For my dissertation, I examined the neuroanatomy of amygdala circuits, and additionally used fMRI to examine circuits involved in reward processing in adults and adolescents. Throughout medical school and graduate school, I also worked in a mental health clinic for uninsured patients. During my time in residency at Yale, I have been part of the Neuroscience Research Training Program (NRTP). As I near the end of my adult psychiatry training at Yale, I’ve realized how grateful I am to have attended a residency that has been so supportive of resident training and resident life!

Why I Chose Yale

Yale offered everything I was looking for in a training program. I wanted experience with a variety of patients and systems of care, and Yale was one of the few programs that had a VA hospital, a state hospital, and a standalone psychiatric hospital. When I had interviewed, I thought the curriculum was flexible, and I was really impressed by the CASE (Clinical and Academic Skills Enhancement) rotation. CASE is a 3-month rotation in second year during which you can work on any project of your choice. This is a huge amount of time early in residency, and is for every resident, not just research track residents. The fact that this rotation is for all residents underscores the breadth and depth of the department’s support (I am happy to say that, looking back at my training, this is true!). Because Yale has a huge psychiatry department with faculty that have a wide range of academic interests, mentorship can be found for nearly any type of project. The research done in the psychiatry and neuroscience departments are some of the best in the country. Finally, and most importantly, the faculty and residents I met during my interviews were kind, encouraging and intelligent. I remember feeling as though I would be supported throughout my residency.

My Schedule

My fourth-year schedule is mostly split between being the chief resident on the Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit (CNRU) at Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC, our state hospital), and conducting research. The CNRU is a unique adult inpatient psychiatric unit that admits patients for psychiatric care, as well as patients enrolled in research studies. I rotated there as a second-year, loved it, and eagerly chose to return as a fourth-year. My time on the unit is spent coordinating admissions and patient care with the staff, running an interdisciplinary rounds, and supervising hard-working and talented PGY-2 residents and medical students. On this unit I am also fortunate to be backed by engaging and thoughtful staff and attendings. I split this position with another fourth-year resident, and am on service a total of six months during the year.

My research time is spent within the lab of Dr. Alan Anticevic. I am in the midst of running a study that uses fMRI to examine the neural responses of working memory and reward processes, and am lucky to lean on the lab resources, as well as the infrastructure at Yale. Much of my time in the lab consists of recruiting and running subjects, data analysis, reading and writing, and attending lab meetings. The department is exquisitely attentive to resident research, and I have used internal funding from the department to support some of my studies.

Life as a Fourth Year Resident

Fourth year is a DIY year, and my co-residents and I have created our own individual schedules and opportunities. Many fourth-years electively serve as chief residents of areas as diverse as the psychiatric emergency room, inpatient units, and intervention (ECT, ketamine, TMS) services. Others work at Yale’s University Health Services, or have taken early fellowship opportunities in community psychiatry during their PGY-4 year. There is also no call, and plenty of internal and external moonlighting opportunities!

So far, my own fourth year has been a mix of continuing my education as a trainee, but also stretching (or finding!) my skills to include management and leadership. Both are right at the surface when I am on service as the chief resident at the CNRU, and also in the lab, as I work to develop my research path. My workday on the CNRU starts around 8:30 am, and finishes around 5 pm, though I often step out during the afternoons to see a psychotherapy patient, receive psychodynamic supervision, attend my own therapy, and attend didactics. My research time often runs from 9 am until 5 pm, and my work during the day varies depending on the phase of research I am in (right now, ongoing recruitment, analysis, and reading).

Where I Live

I live, and have lived since the start of residency, in downtown New Haven. I live in a lovely apartment building overlooking New Haven that is also home to many other residents, including those in psychiatry. I am about a 15-20 minute walk to Yale Psychiatric Hospital, Yale New Haven Hospital, and Connecticut Mental Health Center. I am about a 10 minute drive to the VA Hospital in West Haven. Importantly, I am also about a 15 minute walk, or 5 minute drive, to one of the nearby Yale daycares, an amazing community that has been key to my time here, and essential to coordinating my day!

My Favorite New Haven Restaurants and Cultural Activities

I continue to enjoy exploring the various restaurants around New Haven, including Pepe’s Pizza and Modern Apizza, Seoul Restauarant, and Thali Restaurant. This past summer, I explored more of the state of Connecticut, going to the nearby Norwalk aquarium, and picking fruit at nearby orchards. There are many activities nearby that make for a relaxing weekend!

Final Thoughts

In addition to the many exciting opportunities Yale offers for personal exploration and growth, I was thrilled to discover that my co-residents are amazing, talented and thoughtful people who eagerly support one another. They have made a huge impact on my experience in residency so far, and I have truly loved working with them! (Note—this section is verbatim from my write-up as a second-year resident, and continues to hold true!)