Columbia University Medical Center
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell

A Day in the Life of a Resident

A Day in the Life of a PGY-1 Resident

Rachel Talley, MD

My name is Rachel Talley, and I'm a PGY-1 resident. Finally being a "real" doctor can seem pretty intimidating at first, but just over a month in I'm really enjoying myself!

I'm currently rotating on 3 River East (3RE), an inpatient psychiatry unit at the Allen hospital, one of New York-Presbyterian's (NYP) community-based branches. My day usually starts around 7:15 am. I give myself enough time to have a leisurely breakfast and read the paper. I live in hospital housing, which was a convenient option transition-wise since I was moving from California. My apartment is just a 5 minutes’ walk to the campus and the free shuttle that takes NYP employees to the Allen Hospital. I leave my apartment around 8:10 and arrive at Allen hospital by 8:30, with plenty of time to review overnight events and results for my 3-4 patients.

After 9 am rounds, I discuss the day's plan for my patients with my attending. I've really enjoyed the mix of close supervision and autonomy on 3RE—you work one-on-one with an attending, but you also are the only resident responsible for your patients. I spend most of my day meeting with my patients, discussing changes to treatment plans, and then making sure those plans get executed. Most of the patients on 3RE have severe mental illness, often with co-occurring substance use. I'm very interested in public psychiatry, so learning about the rewards of treating this population in addition to the unique barriers that arise in coordinating quality care for these patients has been fascinating.

I usually leave the hospital between 4 and 5pm. Then, I have the rest of my evening to explore all that New York City has to offer! I'm really enjoying living in a city where so many fun things to do are just a short walk or subway ride away. Most evenings I'm either checking out free outdoor entertainment in the local parks (movies, live music, plays, comedy shows, you name it!) or trying new restaurants with my co-interns and friends in the city. Our intern class is working on organizing a weekend beach trip as well as a group trip to see a show on Broadway. I'm loving everything about Columbia Psychiatry and New York City so far and am looking forward to all of the opportunities that the rest of my training has to offer!


A Day in the Life of a PGY-2 Resident

Jeremy D. Kidd, MD, MPH


My name is Jeremy Kidd, and I am a PGY2 resident. The PGY2 year is spent rotating among various settings, including the inpatient units, psychiatric emergency department, and the consultation-liaison service. On a typical day, I wake up around 7am to have a quick breakfast and pick up coffee on my way to the train. I live in Hell’s Kitchen near 50th Street, so it take about 20 minutes on the express train (only three stops!) to commute to the hospital on 168th street. This gives me time to read for class or escape into a New Yorker short story.

I’m currently working in the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP). PGY2s cover two shifts, 8am-5pm or 12pm-9pm, and we schedule these ourselves. Today, I arrive at 8am for rounds when the overnight PGY3 presents all the current CPEP patients. By 8:30am, I’m off and running. We’re encouraged to pick patients who sound the most interesting. The patients I see could be anything from a 20-year-old with first-break psychosis to a 50-year-old in florid catatonia. I present each case to an attending who takes the time to see the patient again with me and discuss the case. We have class every day from 12-1pm, so I usually leave at 11:45am to grab lunch. Even in the CPEP, class is protected time and attendings expect us to sign out clinical duties to them.

After class, I return to the CPEP and continue to evaluate patients, call outpatient providers, and work to decide the next steps in my patients’ care. I stop seeing new patients by 4pm so that I can prepare to sign out to the next resident and leave around 5pm.

Though the rotation in the CPEP is busy, I still have time for other experiences. I meet regularly with my psychodynamic psychotherapy supervisor, and I look forward to being assigned my first patient later in the year! In addition, I'm writing about sexuality and sexual orientation in patients with chronic mental illness and I am a member of the Housestaff Quality Council, a primarily resident-run council that meets to tackle health systems issues. I usually arrive home around 6pm in time to play the lottery for cheap Broadway tickets or just relax at home with the latest True Blood episode. Later, I try to squeeze in a little reading to get ready for whatever excitement awaits me in the morning.


A Day in the Life of a PGY-3 Resident

Christina D. Gerdes, MDs

My name is Christina Gerdes, and I’m a PGY3 resident. A typical day starts around 5:00am when my 4-month old baby boy wakes me up. I’m rewarded with giggles, eye pokes, and smiles. Afterwards, I prepare for the day and catch the 7:25am Long Island Rail Road train to Penn Station. Yes! I live on Long Island! My commute is about an hour long so I generally use this time to read for class. I arrive at my office in the Psychiatric Institute Resident Clinic (PIRC), check my voicemail, and start seeing patients around 9:00am.

As a PGY-3, we treat people in the outpatient setting with a variety of modalities, including cognitive behavioral therapy, supportive psychotherapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, substance abuse treatment, and medication management. All residents in the PGY3 year have one day of elective time to focus on research or other clinical training. As a psychotherapy track resident, I’ve chosen to take on additional cases in Interpersonal Psychotherapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. I have a supervisor for each modality and I draw on their expertise to discuss patients and learn more about the various therapeutic techniques that I am using.

I also spend one half day a week at one of the local community clinics seeing outpatients with severe mental illness which is one of the many highlights of my week. We have didactics almost daily for 1-2 hours starting at noon. This provides an opportunity to eat lunch, learn more about important clinical topics, and spend time with my fellow residents. Grand Rounds are held on Wednesday and are given by distinguished clinical and basic neuroscience faculty from around the world. All residents are invited for a more intimate Q&A lunch with the speaker afterwards which allows for opportunities to ask more questions.

Typically, I finish my day around 5:00 PM and head back home. I enjoy a walk with my family after we eat dinner together. The commute is long but I enjoy having a spacious home and escaping the hustle and bustle of city life.

I have been pleased throughout my training with the continued growth I have been experiencing – as a diagnostician, therapist, and pharmacologist. I am also tremendously grateful for how supportive the residency administration, faculty, and my fellow residents have been during and after my pregnancy. I look forward to completing the rest of my training.

A Day in the Life of a PGY-4 Resident

Bradley R. Miller, MD, PhD

My name is Bradley Miller and I’m a fourth year resident. I start a typical day having breakfast with my wife and then getting on my bike and riding along the Hudson River for the fifteen minute commute from our apartment in Morningside Heights to the medical center in Washington Heights. I then go to my laboratory, where I study the neurobiology of mood disorders using mouse models with Rene Hen.

The PGY4 year is eighty percent elective time and residents can design the year with diverse clinical experiences or research according to their career goals. As a resident in the research track, I chose to spend all of my elective time in a basic neuroscience laboratory. When I get to the lab, I plan the day with my laboratory technician, whom I was able to hire using funds from the Leon Levy Foundation - a unique opportunity for Columbia Psychiatry residents. I then get to work on experiments or analyzing data.

Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, I head down the hall from my lab to the New York State Psychiatric Institute to see patients in our outpatient clinic and to attend didactics. In the clinic, I chose to spend my PGY4 year cultivating my skills as a psychopharmacologist, and I had the opportunity to choose my supervisor based on my interest in mood disorders. PGY4 residents have the great opportunity to choose clinical supervisors from an impressive pool of experts in areas including psychodynamic psychotherapy, community psychiatry, women's mental health, substance use disorders, and cognitive behavioral therapy, among many others. This combination of flexibility and opportunity during the PGY4 year at Columbia is outstanding, and it enables residents to lay the foundation for the next step in their career. In my case, that means a career combining basic science and clinical psychiatry.

When I finish in the clinic or lab, I ride my bike back home and usually go out to one of the many restaurants in our neighborhood and have some time to enjoy this wonderful city!



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