Columbia University Medical Center
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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

Alejandro Ramirez, MD, PhD

My name is Alejandro Ramirez; I’m a PGY-1, also known as an intern. This is the year we don our long-white coats for the first time and get to call ourselves doctors. Our schedule is divided into 4 months of medicine, 1 month of emergency medicine, 2 months of neurology and 5 months of psychiatry rotations. This potpourri of medical experiences includes outpatient medicine, inpatient medicine, emergency medicine, neurology, child psychiatry, adult psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry and more. We work day shifts, night shifts, weekend shifts, long-call, short call, no call, and get well earned days off. Needless to say, the year will be varied with unique experiences and learning opportunities. This year and next year will be completely clinical for me, but as an MD/PhD on the research track, I will have dedicated time in my PGY-3 and PGY-4 years to begin my research training.

I’m currently on night float, which means I’m the overnight on-call resident for a specific service - be it ID, cardiology, oncology, or medicine. My day starts off at 6 pm when I wake up from my daytime slumber. I get ready at a leisurely pace, eat “breakfast,” shower, and then catch up on some news. My preferred method for doing that is by uploading the most recent BBC-world news podcast and listening to it while I amble through Central Park, just a stone’s throw away from my apartment on the Upper West Side where many residents choose to live.  I then jump on the C-train to arrive at Milstein Hospital by 9 pm when the night shift starts. I take a very thorough sign-out from the day resident, complete with information on the 20-40 patients I will be covering. Then I spend the rest of my night crossing off my to-do list, answering pages from nurses, and admitting new patients whom I will present to the team the following morning at 9 am. There is plenty of guidance and supervision from senior residents, and the nurses are extremely helpful and kind. It’s also cool to finally feel like a real doctor. I’m thoroughly enjoying it!

Getting to be a psychiatry resident in New York City is great a privilege. Besides being a great place to train, the city itself is buzzing with opportunities that distract, engage, and enrich. When I'm not learning to be a psychiatrist, you can find me taking advantage of the museums, concerts, theater, food scene, night-life, or taking a bike ride up the beautiful Hudson Valley.


A Day in the Life of a PGY-2 Resident

Claudine Jones-Bourne, MD


My name is Claudine Jones-Bourne, and I am a PGY2 resident. The second year has various rotations including a CPEP rotation, two inpatient psychiatry rotations, a consult-liaison rotation, and a child psychiatry rotation. The PGY2 year is also our first time experiencing call and night float in psychiatry. On a typical day, I wake up around 6am to get dressed and pack a quick breakfast. I live in Brooklyn with family, so my commute to 168th street takes about 40 minutes to 1 hour driving, depending on traffic. I love my commute because it gives me time to decompress before starting my day.

I spent my first rotation of PGY2 year in the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP). In the CPEP, PGY2s cover two shifts, 8am-5pm or 12pm-9pm, and we schedule these ourselves. My husband and I have a little one on the way, so the flexibility is a major plus. Today, I arrived at 8am for morning rounds. The CPEP rotation is an excellent time to use supervision to your advantage and work through challenging cases. The patient cases range from first break psychosis to dual-diagnosis to depression with suicidal ideation. You see everything in the CPEP.

We have protected time during the PGY2 year every day from 12-1pm for class. Class is exciting because the classes are interactive and this is the first time I get to see my classmates on a daily basis. After class, I return to the CPEP to finish seeing follow-ups or pickup new patients. I usually arrive home around 7pm and enjoy dinner with my husband. After dinner, I make a little time to watch shows online. I also try to catch up on reading to prepare for class and better understand my patients.

Aside from my academic responsibilities, I have other exciting experiences lined up this year. I am on the resident committee for the New York County Psychiatric Society, where I work on publications and publish articles in their newsletter. The year has been off to a good start and I’m eager to enjoy the remainder of my PGY2 year and residency overall.


A Day in the Life of a PGY-3 Resident

Anthony Zoghbi, MD

My name is Anthony Zoghbi, and I’m a PGY3 resident. On a typical morning, I wake up around 7:00 AM and start the day off by brewing some delicious coffee. I live in the Upper West Side with my wife, who is a dermatology resident at Columbia. We often take the 1 train together to 168th street, which is about a 20-minute ride.  I soon arrive to my office in the Psychiatric Institute Resident Clinic (PIRC) and begin seeing patients at 9:00 AM.

After seeing 2-3 patients in the morning, I meet with my supervisor, Dr. Patrick McGrath, a leader in the field of psychopharmacology, to discuss the week’s cases. Afterwards, I pick up lunch and head to our daily didactics at noon. On Mondays, we enjoy Resident Coffee, a protected time with tasty treats where residents have a chance to bond and caffeinate! I then head back to my office and see patients until about 5:00PM.

As third year residents, we primarily work in the outpatient setting. Our clinic directors carefully choose our caseload, which ensures a variety of diagnoses. We practice multiple modalities including cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, supportive psychotherapy, and medication management, among others. Each PGY3 resident has 20% time (one elective day per week) to participate in research or additional clinical training in psychotherapy or psychopharmacology. Though I did not have extensive research training prior to residency, I developed an interest in psychiatric genetics during my first two years here. This year, I am excited to investigate the genetics of familial cases of schizophrenia using whole genome sequencing with my mentor, Dr. Sander Markx.  In addition, I spend one morning per week seeing outpatients at the Inwood Clinic, a community mental health clinic that uses a recovery-oriented approach to treat individuals with serious mental illness.

At the end of the day, my wife and I like to walk along the Hudson River or spend time with our friends in the city. One of my favorite activities is playing basketball in Riverside Park. My co-residents and I also like to explore the city and try new restaurants in different neighborhoods, and there are many of them! This year, I look forward to spending more time in the city, challenging myself with a fascinating research project, and continuing to grow as a diagnostician and therapist.


A Day in the Life of a PGY-4 Resident

Samantha Powell, MD

My name is Samantha Powell, and I am a fourth year resident. A typical day for me starts with an early morning breakfast and jog along the Hudson River. I then grab a latte before heading on the subway. The subway ride from my apartment on the Upper West Side to the hospital is 20 minutes, and I use the time to listen to music and plan for my day ahead.

As a fourth year, I have the flexibility to pursue a number of different clinical, educational, and research opportunities. As one of the four chief residents this year, about 40% of my time over the year is dedicated to chief responsibilities. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to take on this leadership role. Residency can be challenging but extremely rewarding if you have a solid support system. The prior chief residents and the administration have proven invaluable to me throughout my training, and I hope to be able to pay it forward this year! As one of the chiefs, I act as a liaison between the residents and the administration and get to work closely with all the residents, offering guidance when needed. Because the PGY4 year is entirely elective, I also have the opportunity to dedicate additional time to my other interests including research in medical education, teaching, and emergency psychiatry.

To hone my clinical and teaching skills, I am pursuing an elective rotation in the CPEP. Working under the mentorship of an attending emergency psychiatrist and educator, I get to teach PGY2 residents in the CPEP one to two afternoons a week. When I am not in the emergency room, I am seeing outpatients in my office or pursuing several medical education research projects. I receive group supervision on these research endeavors and learn from other residents’ projects by attending a weekly education research group.

After I am finished seeing patients and teaching for the day, I head back home and contemplate which new restaurant in the city I will try or which of the many grocery stores I will go to for a quick stocking of my fridge. On the weekends, I seek out restaurants with celebrity chefs given my passion for the Food Network. I am looking forward to this final year and feel excited for what lies ahead!


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