Click below to learn more about a typical day in the life of a psychiatry resident at Weill Cornell Medicine.
I wake up around 7 AM to start getting ready for the day. I live in Helmsley Medical Towers, one of the three high-rise apartment buildings offered by the hospital that has slightly discounted rental rates for the neighborhood. I grab a coffee from Pret right outside my building on my way across the street to the hospital. I arrive at the hospital around 8 AM and spend the first hour working one of my various elective research projects. For one project, I am annotating notes to help develop a natural language processing and machine learning model to detect depression in primary care clinical notes.
I see my first patient at 9 AM over Zoom for medication management. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing patients both virtually and in-person in our outpatient clinic. I then have psychodynamic psychotherapy supervision with Dr. Robert Michels, the former chairman of our psychiatry department and a prominent psychoanalyst. Prior to working with Dr. Michels this year, I already learned a lot from him in his book The Psychiatric Interview, which was mailed to me by our program before starting residency! During PGY-4, we continue to see 13+ medication management patients, 2+ psychodynamic psychotherapy cases, and 2+ therapy cases of different modalities, which may include supportive psychotherapy, CBT, couples therapy, or interpersonal psychotherapy. For each psychodynamic case, we have an individual supervisor we meet with weekly for 45 minutes.
Following supervision, I see a high school athlete who is struggling with expectations and frustration in his sport. Through the Cornell network, I was able to connect Dr. Jonathan Fader, a sports psychologist who has worked with The New York Mets and The New York Giants, and organize an elective in sports psychiatry. While receiving supervision from Dr. Fader, I provide therapy to athletes drawing concepts from CBT and motivational interviewing to improve sports and mental performance.
At noon, I grab lunch with a co-resident in the cafeteria, using the $100/month credit that we receive as residents. After lunch, I head to the “bridge” (our resident workroom) to meet up with the consultation-liaison psychiatry team. As an elective, I work as a junior attending on the CL psychiatry service providing supervision to PGY-2 residents and medical students. I run patient lists, discuss new cases, and see patients together with the residents. We later all head to CL service rounds at 2 PM and meet with the CL attendings. Residents and medical students present new consults or interesting clinical cases that we discuss collectively as a service.
I end the workday by running a virtual supportive psychotherapy group with my co-resident Yochai Re’em for patients struggling with long COVID. As a PGY-3, part of the outpatient training involves conducting weekly group psychotherapy. We usually choose an existing group therapy in the clinic to run but Yochai pitched an idea of creating a COVID Survivors Group at the outset of the pandemic, which was supported by our outpatient department. We formed the group together and have been running it since October 2020. We continued the group into our fourth-year as an elective and receive weekly group supervision. We will be presenting a poster about our group therapy at the annual meeting of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry and our abstract will be published in their journal.
I leave work around 5 PM and head back to my apartment to change my clothes and grab my tennis racquets. I walk over to Central Park, which is about a 15-20 minute walk from the area of our hospital, and make my way through Central Park to the public tennis courts to play with one of my friends. Afterwards, I enjoy my nice walk back to my apartment and grab some quick food on the way (usually Sweetgreen, Dig Inn, Just Salad, or York Juice and Grill near the hospital). I will end the day relaxing by watching a show on Netflix.
Scheduling in PGY3 year is much more flexible, so I moved to a 2-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn! My commute is around 40 minutes each way, and it's a pleasant subway ride on the Q without transfers. I leave my apartment around 8am and use commute to read, usually a fiction novel, psychodynamic therapy books, or psychopharmacology articles for our weekly conference. I get to the hospital with plenty of time to spare for my first patient at 9am. We have our own private offices which are clustered on the 11th floor, and see patients both in-person and virtually. At 10am, we have our PGY3 Friday academic conference, with a rotation of topics such Women's Mental Health, Addiction, and Clinical Scholars Institute (a group for peer feedback on research writing). At 11am, I have a meeting with my child and adolescent psychiatry supervisor, Dr. Mitnick, to review my two CAP weekly therapy patients.
At noon, we have Lunch & Learn, a virtual residency-wide educational seminar, with lunch provided! With the rest of the afternoon, I see 3-4 more patients, a mix of therapy and psychopharmacology. I leave the office around 5-5:30pm, and go for a run in Prospect Park with my boyfriend and my dog Ruby. We spend the rest of the night making dinner, watching TV, or hanging out with friends in downtown Brooklyn.
Most days, I get up at 5:45am. I exercise then get ready for work. Sometimes, if times allows, I quickly browse my patients’ charts before making my 5-minute trek to the shuttle to NYP-Westchester at 7:20. I catch up with my other co-residents for the first bit of the shuttle ride then listen to music (…or nap lol) for the remainder of the trip. The shuttle arrives around 8:15, which gives me time to chart review, pend my progress notes, print a list, and get a few more sips of coffee in. Morning report on the unit runs from 8:45-9:45 and is an interdisciplinary meeting with nursing, SW, etc., during which we discuss pertinent overnight events, day plans/medication changes, and discharge planning. For the rest of the morning, I round on patients and start notes until 11am when Grand Rounds starts.
Grand Rounds runs from 11-12:30. The presentation today was about psychiatry's role in Integrated Care in Ambulatory and Inpatient Settings. After Grand Rounds, I eat lunch then meet with my PGY2 off-unit supervisor for an hour. Various supervisors meet with each PGY-2 once a week and it's a great time to review complicated cases and get feedback on patient encounters, discuss formulation and differentials, or discuss questions within psychiatry, large or small.
I spend the rest of the afternoon meeting with patients and getting to know them, working on progress notes, updating discharge summaries, and attending family meetings. I meet with my attending in person or via phone to go over patient plans and for informal teaching. The shuttle picks us up at 5pm and takes us back to the city. When I get home, my partner and I eat dinner then relax. Our evenings are usually spent walking along East River, hanging out with friends, or binge-watching television. Our current shows are Married at First Sight, Catfish, and The Circle. I try to get an hour of research in for a project I’m working on while watching tv then we crash and reset for the next day.
My day usually begins when I wake up at around 5:45 am to join my co-residents for a morning workout. After working out, we walk to take the free shuttle from NYP Weill Cornell to the NYP Westchester Behavioral health center at 7:30 am. The shuttle arrives to Westchester at around 8:15 am, so I can grab coffee and a quick breakfast before morning report at 8:30am. Morning report will take place over a zoom meeting and all interns have their own office next to the unit where they are working. After morning report, I round with the attending physician and the treatment team until around 11 am. I try (keyword “try”) to wrap up orders, paperwork, and notes before lunch. We usually have lectures at lunch, so the interns who are working at Westchester will grab lunch, sit outside, and tune into lecture while enjoying the nice weather.
In the afternoon, I typically have family meetings, participate in group therapy with the patients or join them in many of the recreational/therapeutic activities. After making sure that my patients have all their orders in and plans have been updated, I will meet the attending physician for discussions of cases and feedback. When the afternoons are not hectic, I will enjoy reading a paper or taking a walk on the grounds of the hospital.
At the end of the day, the shuttle departs at 5pm from Westchester and arrives at the Weill Cornell campus before 6 pm. In the evening, I will usually cook dinner, order take-out or go out with my wife to one of the many excellent dining options available in Manhattan.