Ida Ahmadizadeh, M.D.
Hello! My name is Ida and I'm a PGY-1. Originally from Maryland, I ventured to the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) for college, where I majored in neuroscience and medical anthropology, before returning to my home state for medical school at the University of Maryland.
Choosing psychiatry as a specialty was a rather natural choice for me. Through my medical anthropology studies during college, I grew fascinated by the psychological and cultural elements at play in how people of different backgrounds experienced "wellness" and defined "disease." I have always enjoyed hearing people's' stories, and learning about the complexities at play within human behavior and psychopathology. Throughout medical school, I found the most salient patient cases often had complex social and psychological themes woven into their presentations. I knew that in choosing a career in psychiatry, I would be entering a dynamic and fascinating field full of compassionate and curious people.
In searching for a residency, I had certain non-negotiables: a group of tight-knit residents, a department committed to residency education and wellness, and exposure to a breadth of clinical experiences and patient populations. I did not intend to move to New York City for residency, but on my interview day at Cornell, truly experienced the "perfect fit" phenomenon I had heard so much about. I could immediately sense that the ethos at Cornell is one of intellectual curiosity with a deep commitment to high-quality clinical education.
The transition from medical student to physician (!) has been nothing short of a wild ride. I now preface my introduction with "doctor," get to wear a long white coat, and receive the privilege of being the point person for patients and loved ones in perhaps one of the most intimate times of their lives. During the first couple months of residency, I've enjoyed exploring the different neighborhoods within NYC, continuing my search for the best bagel in the city, and getting to know my fellow trainees. My co-residents are truly a spectacular bunch, and the camaraderie we share is most definitely my favorite part of residency; I feel so grateful that I get to train among such a kind, fun, and supportive group. It has been such an enormous privilege and joy to join the Cornell family. I look forward to continuing my psychiatry training within such a spirited and accomplished community.
Beverly Shin, M.D.
I have never been one to travel in straight lines, and my path towards psychiatry at Cornell was no exception. Prior to my life in medicine, I enjoyed a 12-year career as a classical violinist, performing across the U.S., Canada, South America, Europe, and Asia as a soloist and as part of chamber music and orchestral ensembles. I was also deeply involved in bringing music and creative experiences to schools that lacked access to arts programs. I developed hands-on workshops designed to help students use music as a tool through which they could explore their own stories and emotions. In doing this work, I met many students who faced tremendous barriers to basic needs such as quality healthcare, personal safety, and psychological support in the face of nearly daily exposure to violence. I became interested in developing skills to more directly address the barriers to wellness that my students and their communities faced, and I saw medicine as a way to do this. I loved my work as a musician but felt ready to work in a wider world outside the concert hall, hence the leap from music to medicine.
I chose psychiatry for the opportunity to work at the interface between the mind and the body and because I am convinced that mental health is the gateway to both healthy patients and healthy communities. I also saw psychiatry as the specialty that invited the most creative thinking. During medical school, I designed a series of workshops in which I used musical improvisation in a group therapeutic setting to help medical trainees address difficult themes such as making mistakes, imposter syndrome, and team dynamics. In presenting the workshops for the annual Pennsylvania Gold Humanism Society symposium, I realized that my medical and musical lives could intersect in ways I had not expected. So when it came time to choose residency programs, I knew I was looking for a place where I would have a rigorous clinical foundation but also the freedom and support to experiment with uncharted paths in psychiatry—and Cornell fit the bill. I rotated here as a visiting medical student, and I was inspired by the thoughtful attendings I worked with and by the pervasively analytic culture here.
Now, as a PGY-II working on the adult inpatient unit, I am constantly amazed by the wide range of pathology and the diverse cultural backgrounds of the patients I see every day. Amidst the rich and intense learning experience that is PGY-II year, there is also elective time mixed in. My fascination with non-verbal therapeutic interventions has followed me into residency, and this year, I will have the opportunity to build upon a breathwork, movement, and music class that I taught to acutely psychotic patients when I was an intern. I could not possibly comment on my experience at Cornell without mentioning my AMAZING cohort of co-residents. We are a tightly-knit crew, and I love working with such warm, fun, and fascinating people who are so completely committed to patient care. They inspire me every day to be a better physician, colleague, and human.
Ariella Dagi, M.D.
As an undergraduate at Harvard, I studied human expression in the studio through printmaking, drawing and mixed media. Coursework in anthropology drew me into the ways in which people define and cope with illness. A semester at a rural Kenyan hospital left me with the sense that a positive cultural perception of medicine was required in order to treat illness, and that this perception was based upon access to basic healthcare infrastructure and trust in providers. Post-college work on health system functioning and healthcare outcomes with international organizations, small companies, and universities in Eastern and Southern Africa and Southeast Asia reinforced the import of communal buy-in and site-specific, agile interventions. Local physicians modeled the idea of a doctor both as a provider of sensitive, individualized care and as a leader in population health. In medical school, the discovery of psychiatry as a field that was as attentive to treating markers of pathology as to addressing the personal, cultural, religious, socioeconomic, and structural backdrop for illness made my specialty decision clear.
When I first started looking at residencies, I scoured their websites and pamphlets to ascertain academic rigor, clinical breadth, and sense of community, but ultimately it was the informal conversations on the interview trail that helped me differentiate among programs. Cornell blew me away. I could tell the residents had a deep passion for their work, seemed fundamentally happy, and had formed a natural, supportive community despite a diversity of experience and interests. I was impressed by the faculty’s warmth, excitement to teach, and the multi-faceted leadership roles they played within the hospital.
What I saw at Cornell during the interview process was only a small representation of the kindness, compassion, intellect, and creativity that I have found since. It has also been an incredible place to grow. In a given week as a PGY-I, one might present a case to a world-renowned subject expert, discuss countertransference with a group of psychoanalysts, lead a de-escalation team during an acute inpatient crisis, consult on a patient in the burn unit, teach medical students using a new visual mnemonic, and attend interdisciplinary rounds on the human side of healthcare. Over the course of the first few months of my first year, I interviewed and treated patients from the first to the ninth decade of life, from the undocumented and uninsured to the rich and famous, who presented with all ranges of sex, gender, religious, and cultural identifications, and who spoke in languages that I previously would have struggled to identify, with all types of medical and psychiatric illness. It has been a privilege to work with, learn from, and treat these many individuals. Cornell has been an incredible community in which to train and serve, and I very much look forward to the years ahead.
Joseph Stujenske, M.D., PhD
Being a resident at Weill Cornell has been an amazing experience. As a research-track resident, I wanted to be in a program that would support me in my research training while simultaneously providing rigorous clinical training. Clinically, we have a wonderful community of attendings and residents who are all passionately committed to providing superb psychiatric care to our patients. I have felt incredibly supported, not only formally by our director, chief residents, clinical supervisors and kind administrative staff, but also informally by my co-residents. I value the diversity of training experiences including units dedicated for specific populations including adolescent and geriatric patients. The residency has also been incredibly supportive of my research with comprehensive mentorship and protected time starting in PGY1 year. I appreciate the dedication of the residency to supporting trainees across all disciplines, from the basic sciences to psychoanalysis, and this is reflected also at the level of our faculty. I could not imagine a better place to train.