A Day in the Life of a PGY-4 Resident


My background

My name is Michelanne and I am a PGY-4 Chief Resident in psychiatry at Yale. I grew up in Ketchikan, Alaska, and moved east after high school, graduating from Barnard College in 2002. After earning my bachelor’s degree, I completed a premedical postbaccalaureate program at Hunter College of the City University of New York before beginning medical school at Weill Cornell Medical College. During medical school I was drawn to both psychiatry and surgery, and was active in clinical and basic science research on the impact of diabetes on burn injury and wound healing. Given my research interests, I decided to apply for residency in general surgery after graduating. However, during my intern year in surgery I decided psychiatry was a better career choice for me, and I joined the Yale Psychiatry Residency as a second-year resident.

Why I chose Yale

Since I attended both college and medical school in New York City, my original plan was to stay there for residency. Despite this plan, I decided to apply to Yale because I had heard about the strength of the program from multiple peers and faculty mentors. When I interviewed at Yale I was really impressed with the warmth and enthusiasm of the residents and faculty members I met, as well as the program’s strong commitment to education and research. Although I never imagined I would leave New York, I found that the experience I had interviewing at Yale combined with the undeniable strengths and reputation of the program made the move an obvious choice.

My schedule

Since I am Chief for Resident Education as well as Chief Resident on the inpatient psychiatry unit at the VA and program-wide Chief Resident, my time is split between clinical responsibilities, education, and administrative activities. My schedule is different every day of the week:

On Mondays I spend the entire day working on the inpatient psychiatry unit at the VA. I have both direct patient care responsibilities as well as a mentorship role for the interns working on the unit, and take an active role in teaching as clinical questions arise.

On Tuesdays I spend anywhere from a half day to a full day on the inpatient unit at the VA, depending on my teaching responsibilities. On some Tuesdays I go directly to the VA in the morning and lead teaching rounds prior to morning report, and on others I attend centralized didactics with the PGY-2 class, where I help organize and run clinical case conferences involving both resident and faculty presentations. Occasionally I will also be involved in presenting lectures in centralized didactics for the PGY-2s. In the afternoons I work at the VA and then travel back to New Haven for supervision and to see my long term therapy patient.

Wednesday mornings I attend PGY-4 centralized didactics, and then return to the VA for outpatient Neurology clinic in the afternoon (a rotation usually completed in the intern year; I am making it up as a fourth-year because I entered the program as a PGY-2). On occasional Wednesday afternoons I will also teach a lecture to the interns rotating on the inpatient psychiatry service at the VA. Also on occasional Wednesday afternoons I will attend Psychiatry Resident Town Hall Meetings, which I help organize, along with my co-chief resident in psychiatry, to address the questions and concerns of psychiatry residents.

On Thursdays I spend a full day back on the inpatient psychiatry unit at the VA, following my patients and teaching and supervising the interns.

I start Friday mornings with supervision for my role as Chief for Resident Education, and then attend the weekly meeting of the Graduate Education Committee. After this meeting I attend Psychiatry Grand Rounds. During the summer months and sporadically throughout the rest of the year, I help plan, organize, and run the Resident Grand Rounds lecture series, for which a committee of residents chooses speakers and topics of special significance to psychiatry trainees. After Grand Rounds I attend any meetings that are taking place (i.e. Psychiatry Resident Association meetings, post-grand rounds luncheons or discussions), then have a session with my long-term therapy patient. Friday afternoons, my co-chief and I meet with Dr. Rohrbaugh and the Assistant Program Directors for chief supervision.

Life as a fourth-year resident

Fourth year in our program is an extremely varied experience depending on the clinical activities and research interests of the resident. Rotations and placements are selected by the residents during third year, and each resident gets to choose how he or she will spend their time during fourth year. We are not required to take any overnight call, which makes for a slightly more relaxing schedule than the first three years of the program. My schedule involves a lot of administrative and teaching responsibilities, but other residents may focus more on clinical work or research projects, depending on their interests.

Where I live

I live near downtown New Haven, within walking distance of Yale-New Haven Hospital. I chose this neighborhood because I enjoy being able to get to work and do my daily activities without having to get in my car. It’s even possible to live car-free as a psychiatry resident at Yale if you live in or near the downtown area. The neighborhood also has a number of good restaurants and cafes as and is close to several parks.

My favorite New Haven restaurant

Miya's Sushi is a real gem—it’s unlike any sushi you’ll find anywhere else and the people who work there will remember your name and your usual order. The sushi is made with nontraditional ingredients like papaya and goat cheese, and they even have an "invasive species" menu...

Final thoughts

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a psychiatry resident at Yale, and I think the program’s biggest strength is its enthusiasm for allowing residents to focus on whatever aspect of psychiatry is important to them. If you have a particular clinical, research, or teaching interest, the administration of the department will whole-heartedly support you in exploring it.