A Day in the Life of a PGY-2 Resident

Celeste Lipkes

My Background

Hi, everyone! My name is Celeste and I’m a second year resident. I grew up in a house brimming with books and had a not-so secret life as a poetry teacher before beginning my medical training. Though my personal experiences with chronic illness drew me to medicine, I wasn’t sure how to put it all together until I arrived at psychiatry through the door of writing. After finishing undergrad at Johns Hopkins, I migrated to Charlottesville to complete my MFA in poetry. At UVA I wrote, taught, and ate many a Spudnuts donut (RIP); I also designed an independent study on illness narratives, for which I read a series of mental health memoirs, including Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind. I was blown away by the bravery of these texts and slowly began to see how my interests in patient advocacy, storytelling, stigma, and bioethics all pointed to psychiatry. I completed medical school at Virginia Commonwealth University, where I maintained my sanity by leading writing workshops for patients and spending a good chunk of loan money on Sub Rosa’s salami and cheese croissants. Though my path to Yale was winding, I couldn’t be more grateful to be here.

Why I Chose Yale

My partner and I were attempting an unconventional couples match, and I initially looked at our program because Yale was his first choice for graduate school. My mother grew up in New Haven, so I was very familiar with the area and was honestly looking to be in a larger city. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that Yale is a seriously special place; I ultimately chose our program because of its commitment to professional development, diversity, and wellness.

When I interviewed I was amazed to learn that the program gives residents a total of four protected months across PGY1 and 2 to work on research project(s) of our own design; many programs tried to show me how I fit into their residency, but Yale asked, “what do you want to do? how can we support you to do those things?” I felt like my love for writing was taken seriously as an important part of my future career rather than a hobby or interesting quirk. The CASE project, the tightly organized didactics, and the design-it-yourself freedom of fourth year all spoke to Yale’s focus on furthering residents’ careers as leaders in our own particular niche of psychiatry.

Diversity isn’t just a buzzword at Yale, but felt truly enacted in the residents’ variety of backgrounds and interests. I continue to be surprised and delighted by the brilliance of my colleagues, who encourage me to see my patients, healthcare systems, and the world at large from different points of view. Finally (!), in joining a residency it was important that I didn’t lose connection with my community or jeopardize my health for my career. Yale’s program appeared supportive of residents’ lives outside of the hospital; now that I am here I can say for certain that at Yale you will be challenged, but not overworked.

My Schedule

Currently I am finishing up my substance use rotation, which is composed of various outpatient clinic experiences; I am based with the Yale Intensive Outpatient Program’s dual diagnosis group, but also spend some afternoons at the Substance Abuse Treatment Unit and the Forensic Drug Diversion Clinic, where patients with criminal justice involvement can receive substance abuse treatment. The addiction block is flexible, and I have tailored the rotation to my own interests; for example, I spend my mornings either completing new patient intakes for the IOP or working with patients in a group therapy setting. This past week I lead a writing workshop! Every twelve days or so I take 24 hour call at Yale Psychiatric Hospital or Connecticut Mental Health Center, so there’s always something to keep me on my toes.

Where I Live

My fiancé and I live in a home in East Rock that’s been converted into several apartments. The neighborhood is beautiful and the perfect distance from the hospital – just far enough to give me breathing room, but close enough to get home in a blizzard! East Rock is mainly residential, but also boasts a new gym, two of my favorite pizza places in town, coffee shops, bars, and great Italian bodegas where you can pick up a giant eggplant parm sub for your 24 hour call shift (hypothetically, of course). The neighborhood abuts East Rock park with its many trails and giant cliff face, as well as Edgerton, a park that hosts free outdoor performances of Shakespeare in the summer and is the perfect place to dog watch.

My Favorite Things to Do In/Around New Haven

As you might have guessed, my interests are mostly food and book-centric; we love grabbing a salami and hot pepper pizza from 163, perusing the newest titles at Atticus, wandering around the Yale Art Museum, and treating ourselves to a cone at Arethusa. (The outdoor Dairy Queen on Whitney Avenue is also a much beloved stop.) During the summer we cook our way through our CSA box and stop by Lyman’s and Bishop’s orchards to pick our own fruit. Often we’ll journey up or down the coast to browse the magical Book Barn in Niantic or to walk the beach in Stonington. Going into NYC is also a fun weekend excursion when you are in need of some excitement and a good bagel.

Final Thoughts

You are about to start residency in the most thrilling and rewarding field of medicine! Get excited. No matter where you go, I wish you well as a future colleague. If you have any questions about my experience as a Yale resident, please feel free to reach out: celeste.lipkes@yale.edu.