Hello! I’m glad you’re thinking about training at Yale! My name is Hana Ali, and I’m a first-year psychiatry resident. I moved to New Haven from New York City after graduating from Columbia Medical School. I was born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi by Sudanese immigrant parents. After graduating from high school, I attended Harvard College and majored in African and African American Studies. In college, I enjoyed the life sciences, but also became interested in community mental health, particularly the racial and socioeconomic disparities in health outcomes in the US. After college, I worked as an intensive case manager at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx where I assisted individuals with co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders navigate the health care and social services landscape of NYC. Case management provided me with a window into the mental health infrastructure of the country and solidified my interest in pursuing medicine and eventually training as a psychiatrist. In medical school, I continued working with this population as a volunteer at a student-run clinic operating out of a local needle-exchange program. These experiences gave me insight into some of the gaps in our mental health care system and fueled my current interest in improving access to quality mental health care services in underserved communities.
Why I Chose Yale
I fully expected to remain in New York City after medical school until I interviewed at Yale and experienced the commonly invoked, yet poorly defined, ‘perfect fit’ phenomenon discussed on the interview trail. I chose Yale for a variety of reasons, but the people I met on my interview day are a large part of what drew me here. I was impressed by the unique activities the residents were pursuing outside of the hospital - everything from neuroscience research to mental healthcare advocacy in local government. Most importantly, I felt that the residents were all incredibly warm and welcoming. Secondly, diversity is very important to me. I found that Yale Psychiatry makes a real effort to foster diversity within the program and this is visible in the varied backgrounds of the residents, faculty and administration in the department. Finally, I was drawn to the many opportunities for research and mentorship at Yale. I have academic interests in both community psychiatry and neuropsychiatry and although I have only been in training for a few months now, I have met many incredibly approachable and accessible faculty who are excited to work with trainees.
I spent the first two months of my PGY1 year on a child and adolescent inpatient psychiatry unit at Yale New Haven Hospital. I had very little exposure to child psychiatry when I started residency and did not know what to expect when I started, but I quickly realized how rewarding and fun it is to work with teenagers. Starting with child psychiatry has helped me develop more robust biopsychosocial formulations and allowed me to better understand how early aspects of a patient’s life can impact their mental well being later in life. On the child psych unit, I started my day around 8am and was typically out by 5:30pm. After this rotation, I will start neurology consults for one month, which will include one much anticipated week of vacation before I start my medicine months.
Where I Live
I live in a one bedroom walk-up apartment in neighborhood near Downtown New Haven. When I moved to New Haven, I looked for an apartment that was affordable, safe and close the hospital. I found the perfect place on Craigslist that is located right at the edge of Yale campus. I typically bike the one mile to work each morning. I like my apartment because I am close to the many restaurants and museums downtown while still enjoying the more low-key community feel of my immediate neighborhood.
My Favorite Things to do in/around New Haven
My favorite thing to do since landing in New Haven has been exploring the many Connecticut beaches within an hours drive from the city. On my free weekends, I’ve had the chance to explore several beaches: Hammonasset, Sherwood Island State Park, East Wharf and the more local, Lighthouse Point Park. Before moving to New Haven, I had never associated Connecticut with beaches and have been pleasantly surprised by the many opportunities for great swimming, seashell collecting, sampling of fine New England seafood and appreciating many beautiful sunsets on the water.
The best part of my first two months at Yale has been getting to know my wonderful classmates. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to train with a group of talented individuals who are all incredibly kind, supportive and fun!