Hello there! My name is Ayana. I'm a fourth-year psychiatry resident and Program Wide Co-Chief Resident at Yale. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate, I majored in Biology at Hampton University, a historically black university, in Hampton, Virginia. After college, I moved to Silver Spring, MD and conducted basic research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. In 2003, I left NIH and began an MD/PhD program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York. Originally, I planned to pursue a career in internal medicine, but became extremely passionate and interested in psychiatry, particularly studying Black populations that undergo chronic stress, triggering dependence on drug and alcohol and leading to mood disorders and/or psychotic disorders. I also conduct global mental health research in Sierra Leone, elucidating the interaction between substance use, psychotic illness, and associated stigma. In my spare time I enjoy dancing, reading, and watching independent films and documentaries.
Why I Chose Yale
I specifically chose Yale because of its commitment to and success in recruiting the brightest, most interesting, diverse group of residents from around the globe. Yale is also committed to academic excellence, which is reflected in the rich didactic curriculum. Additionally, there is an immense amount of research, which allows residents to explore any area within the vast field of psychiatry. I feel privileged to be among and work with such an AMAZING, supportive group of people.
The fourth year is extremely individualized according to specific career and/or research interests. Currently, the first 6 months of my year are spent on an acute, general inpatient adult psychiatric unit at the free-standing psychiatric hospital. During the second 6 months of the year, I will be working in an outpatient setting with veterans suffering from substance-related disorders. I will also travel back to Sierra Leone in the spring of 2015 to continue my global mental health research. Finally, as program wide chief resident, I spend a lot of time coordinating schedules, orientation events, serving as a liaison between residents and administrators, and YES meeting applicants interested in pursuing a residency career at Yale!
Life as a Fourth Year Resident
As referenced above, my time thus far has been on an inpatient unit at Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital (YNHPH). I am thoroughly enjoying this experience. Not only do I look forward to going to the unit each day, but I really respect and admire the attendings and staff I work with. I also have the opportunity to treat a plethora of psychiatric illnesses in an acute hospital setting, where the primary goal is to stabilize patients and get them established or re-connected with outpatient follow-up. Further, I have the AWESOME and unique experience of learning and performing electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) one day per week. Another great aspect of fourth year so far is the truly terrific didactic curriculum that takes place Wednesday afternoons, focused on transitioning from a resident to a junior attending.
Where I Live
Let me tell you, I LOVE where I live—hands down! I live in a beautiful section of New Haven called Wooster Square, which is famous for Italian restaurants (yummy), including the home of the first American pizza pie—Frank Pepe’s. It’s just an overall enjoyable place to live. The neighborhood is extremely safe and has a nice mix of young, single urbanites, new families, working professionals, and baby boomers. Wooster Square hosts a Farmers' Market every Saturday and I can walk to downtown New Haven in 5-7 minutes, walk to the train station in 10 minutes, and walk to work at YNHPH in 15 minutes.
My favorite Yale and New Haven cultural activities
Yale has many great restaurants, especially for such a small city, but I would have to say my favorite is Mama Mary’s Soul Food restaurant on Whalley Avenue, followed closely by Sally’s Pizzeria on Wooster Street — DELICIOUS, really and truly. Surprisingly, there are also a lot of great cultural activities. My faves so far have been the free summer hip-hop and jazz concerts on the New Haven Green and the Martin Luther King holiday tribute at the Peabody Museum. The museum had an excellent display of MLK's accomplishments, contributions to race relations, followed by African drumming and a poetry slam contest. Who knew New Haven had so much to offer?!!
As I reflect on my time here at Yale thus far, I am just so happy and convinced that I made the right decision. At first, I was apprehensive to leave NYC. However, the supportive environment, my wonderful co-residents, the amazing faculty, and the educational and personal experiences have only reaffirmed my decision. I feel honored and fortunate to be amongst such a special group and I really think it is a reflection of the vision and commitment Yale Psychiatry has to recruit the best and most diverse applicants. If you have any questions about the PGY-4 year or life at Yale, do not hesitate to contact me directly.