A Day in the Life of a PGY-1 Resident

Brooke Lifland

My Background

Hello! My name is Brooke Lifland and I’m a first-year psychiatry resident. I was born and raised in Jupiter, FL, so I spent the majority of my childhood covered in sand or head underwater with a snorkel. After high school I attended Harvard College where I majored in the History of Science with a focus on the History of Medicine. I also spent time volunteering at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter as a social work coordinator, which exposed me to the considerable flaws in our health care system. Most of my clients had significant psychiatric and substance use issues that had both initiated and perpetuated their homelessness, and it was overwhelming that I as an undergraduate with no formal psychiatric training was the only person positioned to help them claw their way out of poverty.

Why I Chose Yale

Popular imagination conceives of Ivy League institutions as ivory towers that set themselves apart from the communities in which they exist. While interviewing at Yale, I was impressed by the way that leaders in the Department had made it a priority to become a significant social and political presence in New Haven. I spoke with residents who were engaged not only in research to further the field of neurobiology, but were also working to tackle social determinants of health and empower marginalized communities. I chose to enter the field of psychiatry as a social and political act. By choosing Yale, I was choosing a program that had a strong track record of producing not only physician-scientists, but physician-scientist-advocates.

My Schedule

I spent the first 3 months of my PGY1 year on the 8 East inpatient psychiatry unit at the West Haven VA Hospital. Our day starts with pre-rounding at 7:30a. If my early bird patients are up, I’ll use the quiet morning time for our daily check-in. At 8:30a we have our unit-wide morning meeting where we discuss census and other issues with the nurses, social workers, and other staff. Rounds are from 9:30-11. The rest of the day is filled with admissions, one-on-one therapy sessions with patients, note-writing, and teaching sessions from experts in the field. Once a week, we spend our evenings from 5:30p-9:30p working in the Yale Crisis Intervention Unit (psychiatric emergency room), learning how to triage and manage acutely ill patients with a variety of psychiatric and substance disorders. Once a month we spend a weekend day from 8a-5p as the “MOD” or medical officer on duty at the Yale Psychiatric Hospital, a 76-bed psychiatric hospital. In this role, we are tasked with responding to all of the urgent and emergent medical and psychiatric needs of the patients over the weekend. These first few months of intern year have been a trial by fire but I have loved every moment and look forward to what the rest of the year has to offer.

Where I Live

I live in a two-bedroom apartment in the new MetroStar building in Downtown New Haven with my husband. The apartment is very open-concept and bright with large windows. The building is brand new and has a small, well-furnished gym and a beautiful rooftop deck. Notably, two of my fellow psychiatry interns live in the same building! The building has also attracted residents from many other programs. We chose this location almost exclusively based on location. I live right around the corner from the VA Shuttle stop and I am a 10-minute walk from the Yale-New Haven Hospital. We are a 20-minute walk away from Stop&Shop and a 10 minute walk from Elm City Market (the “fancy” grocery store). We sold our car prior to moving to New Haven and between the Yale shuttle system, Lyft, and our own feet, we’ve been able to get around just fine.

My Favorite Things to do in/around New Haven

My husband and I go to the Wooster Square Farmer’s Market every Saturday. It is a marvelous place to get fresh produce, meat, bread, and cheese. My favorite bread is the focaccia from G Café Bakery – we get a loaf every week and eat it for lunch with the feta pesto from another local vendor. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the local pizza scene. Current favorites include Bar (classic cheese pizza), One 6 Three (goat cheese pizza), and Kitchen Zinc (brussel sprout pizza). Aside from the food scene, I’ve loved exploring the local museums. My favorite place is the Rocks and Gems exhibit at the Peabody Museum. I found my first time there to be a near-religious experience. The room is darkly lit with spotlights on all of these glorious minerals; it’s an otherworldly experience.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a residency program can be stressful. Moving to a new state where you know no one can be anxiety-provoking. Assuming new clinical roles can be terrifying. Throughout my first few months of intern year, I have been continually impressed by the way that my co-interns, senior residents, and attendings have been willing to offer a helping hand or a word of encouragement when I needed it. You will be a stellar intern wherever you end up but when things get hard, reach out to those around you, be gentle with yourself, and take time to heal when you need it.