A Day in the Life of a Resident

A Day in the Life of a PGY-1 Resident

Alex Luna, MD

Hey! My name is Alex Luna and I am 2 months into intern year so far. Intern year is split up among inpatient and outpatient medicine, emergency medicine, neurology, and, of course, psychiatry for the remaining months. The psychiatry component of intern year runs the gamut from inpatient psychiatry, outpatient psychiatry, a day program for children, and even emergency psychiatry, guaranteeing a wide variety of experiences even in your first year. So far, I’ve had experiences on both the inpatient unit on 9 Garden North located in Milstein Hospital, as well as the Children’s Day Unit (CDU) located in the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) right down the street!

On average, my day starts at 6:30 am and I have enough time to get in a brief workout and some breakfast before arriving on the unit at around 8:30 am. Depending on the rotation, rounds will typically start at around 845 or 9a and we have a discussion for each of our patients with a talented group of nurses, social workers, psychologists, attendings, and of course, my extraordinary co-residents. CoVID-19 has changed all our lives and that applies for rounds too, now taking place through a video communication system like Zoom or WebEx.

After rounds, I’ll touch base with my attending with regards to any patients to be seen in the morning or any major medication updates for our patients. After getting my to-dos for the morning done, I’ll head over to our protected 1-2hr didactics on Tuesday to Friday, grabbing some lunch on my way to class. We each get our own temporary office to use for the purpose of remote didactics in order to adhere to social distancing policies and to prevent the spread of CoVID-19. Following didactics, I’ll head back to the unit and finish up any remaining work, which I usually do by about 4:30 pm.

Though my time as an intern has been brief thus far, I have worked with many of the faculty in the department as a medical student and have found them to be incredibly supportive, sincere, and approachable and this has certainly been the case even as a resident! I am grateful to be here and look forward to the next few years at this wonderful residency program.

A Day in the Life of a PGY-2 Resident

Jade Avery, MD

Hello! My name is Jade Avery and I am a second-year resident. This is the year when we begin our full-time psychiatry training by rotating through multiple acute care psychiatric settings. These rotations include managing psychiatric pathology on inpatient units, consulting on medical and surgical inpatients, assessing and treating patients in our Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program and pediatric emergency department, developing independence while on call overnight, and learning advanced psychotherapy techniques in twice weekly sessions with our individual, long-term therapy patients.

Currently, I'm rotating on our inpatient unit in Milstein Hospital, 9 Garden North. This unit manages complex mood, psychotic and personality/character disorders. My day typically begins around 7:00 am when I wake up and begin getting ready for work. I like to spend my mornings listening to podcasts (either Morning Edition by NPR or Crime Junkie) as I get ready. I live in Harlem and usually take the subway to work. I typically leave my home around 7:40 am and arrive to Washington Heights by 8:00 am. I will usually pick up breakfast prior to arriving to the unit. In the morning I prepare for our interdisciplinary rounds at 8:45 am. After rounds, my mornings are spent seeing patients either independently, or with medical students and attendings. At noon, I leave the unit to participate in daily didactics. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic all of our didactics are virtual via Zoom. Nevertheless, though we are in different rooms it is always a delight to see my co-residents for an hour out of my day even if it is virtually! After didactics, I return to the unit to see the remainder of my patients, write notes, speak with families or discuss treatment plans with the medical students or attendings with whom I am working. I typically leave around 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. depending on how busy my day is.

New York City is one of my favorite cities and one of the reasons why I was so eager to come to Columbia. When I am not at work, I enjoy exploring the city with my family and friends. I recently moved to Harlem and have loved getting to learn about about the culture of this historic neighborhood! During the week after work, I typically spend my evenings either catching up with family or friends via Zoom, playing with my cat or trying a new recipe at home! On the weekends, I enjoy picnicking in Central Park, continuing to explore the NYC food scene (now through outdoor dining)/ finding new restaurants in Harlem, or biking through various areas within the city. I have loved my time in NYC thus far and have found a home within this residency. I am looking forward to continuing to explore and learn more about this city in the coming years!

A Day in the Life of a PGY-3 Resident

David Veith, MD

Hey there! My name is David Veith and I’m a current PGY-3 resident. During third year, we work at the Psychiatric Institute Resident Clinic – in the era of social distancing this has been taken virtual, resulting in safe practices for residents and patients. As an added benefit, there are fewer no-shows and I'm able to work from my comfortable Manhattan apartment or my own private office at the Psychiatric Institute. When I’m not seeing out-patients I’m helping to staff the psychiatric emergency room. As you can imagine, the breadth and acuity of cases you see in a busy Manhattan emergency room are unparalleled!

My usual day begins at 7:30 AM, when I take a run through my Washington Heights neighborhood along Riverside Park with beautiful views of the George Washington Bridge. My work-day starts at 9:00AM and I’ll continue to see patients until we have virtual didactics with my co-residents from 12pm -1pm. In a given day I’ll see anywhere from 4-6 patients and have several hours of supervision – essentially private tutoring – with my various supervisors who are experts in different types of psychotherapy. During the week I typically have 8 hours of this individual supervision, which is an amazing learning opportunity! I usually stop seeing patients around 5:30PM, at which time I will cook myself a quick dinner before meeting up with co-residents either online or while social distancing at one of the many local parks. My co-residents have made my experience at Columbia truly special, as I moved here from my home in Seattle with no connections but quickly found that I had made friends for life. Now I can’t imagine my life without them!

Aside from my co-residents and education, the best part of my experience has been living in New York City. Since moving here from the West Coast, I have attended countless indie/hip hop/electronic concerts, seen world class art galleries, and have eaten the best food of my life. It has been inspiring to watch this vibrant city recover and bounce back with a variety of outdoor restaurants and activities that follow social distancing conventions. Just this last weekend I had some delicious Thai food with views of Central Park, all while remaining safe. Coming to Columbia and New York was one of the best decisions I’ve made – I hope you’ll make it too!

A Day in the Life of a PGY-4 Resident

Alana Mendelsohn, MD, PhD

Hi everyone!

My name is Alana Mendelsohn and I’m a PGY4 resident.

The fourth year of residency is the most flexible and gives us the opportunity to synthesize everything we’ve learned over the last three years, hone our clinical skills and pursue specialized clinical, research and advocacy interests. Everyone’s schedule looks different and is tailored personally to them. I’m a research track resident and Leon Levy Fellow, which means that most of my time is spent focused on research.

I come from a basic neuroscience background and joined Rui Costa’s lab at the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, which uses cutting edge technologies to study the neurobiology of complex motor and motivated behavior. In addition to the protected research time as a PGY4, Columbia offers research fellowships which will allow me to stay in the lab after finishing residency and have sufficient time to take on more ambitious projects in preparation for a career as a physician-scientist.

The beauty of PGY4 year for me is that I finally get to integrate my love of science and patient care, often quite concretely within a given day. A few days ago, for example, I got up early to head to the lab to spend the morning doing experiments in mice, tracing neural circuits with specialized viruses. In this case, I was targeting the dorsal raphe nucleus, which produces serotonin and is involved in depression and anxiety. Afterwards I got home just in time to join our didactic on longitudinal psychodynamic therapy, then met with my psychopharmacology supervisor, an expert in mood disorders clinical research. Finally, I saw a few patients via telepsychiatry who have mood and anxiety disorders. Talk about coming full circle!

I’ve lived in New York City for over ten years now and still try to take advantage of it as much as possible outside of work. In addition to reading and spending time with my husband, friends and family, I enjoy picnicking and jogging in Central Park and exploring the city’s restaurants and cultural institutions. The biggest perk of New York City for me though, has been the music scene. I live by Lincoln Center and throughout residency have regularly attended classical music, jazz and opera performances around the city. New York City obviously feels quite different now, and it’s hard to put a positive spin on the challenges we’ve faced as a city this year (even if I am admittedly enjoying the many new outdoor dining opportunities). I look forward to the city coming back better than ever, knowing that New Yorkers’ resilience, tenacity and diversity are the city’s greatest asset.