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

Colby Chapman Colby Chapman
Hi! My name is Colby Chapman and I am a PGY-1 resident. If you’re like me, before starting intern year you’ll hear stories that may raise your anxiety levels as July 1st nears. Fortunately, it's now a little more than one month in and I'm doing just fine, and even enjoying myself as I finish my time in the Emergency Department!

My typical day as an intern in the ER starts with me waking up at 7:00 am and making a quick breakfast before throwing on my ready-to-wear fashionable scrubs. As I chose to live in hospital housing, I leave my apartment by 7:50 to make it to the start of my 8:00 am shift.

Upon arrival I take sign-out from the intern who is leaving and familiarize myself with these cases just in time to see that there are new patients waiting to be seen. Although ERs are busy, there is a systematic approach to each patient. I first triage based on the presenting symptom, then do a rapid yet thorough evaluation to rule out or treat any emergent situation. I then present the case to my Attending who either confirms my decision-making or helps to steer me in a different direction. At first this seemed like a huge task to be done at such a fast pace, however, I’ve surprised myself with my ability to adjust to my new environment.

Each shift is 12 hours and can either start at 8am, 8pm, or noon. Each shift includes an hour of didactics and a 20-30 minute break to eat. Regardless of when my shift starts or finishes, I always begin and end my day with a phone call to my fiancé who is still currently living in my hometown.

Outside of the ER, I've found time to enjoy the city with fun activities such as picnics in Central Park and runs along Riverside Drive. Most recently, I accompanied some fellow psychiatry residents to Sandy Hook Beach, a quick ferry ride away. Although it's only been a short time, I'm impressed by the amazing people I've met and grateful for the experiences I've had. I look forward to exploring the many opportunities still ahead as I complete my psychiatric training at Columbia!

A Day in the Life of a PGY-2 Resident

Ravi  ShahRavi Shah

My name is Ravi Shah, and I am a PGY-2. During the PGY-2 year, most of our rotations are on inpatient psychiatric settings, and we also begin seeing our first outpatient for long-term therapy. We take in-house call for the psychiatric units for the first time, but it’s not bad at all!

On a typical day, I wake up around 7am in my apartment in the West Village and have coffee and breakfast while I read the Times online and get ready for work. I take the A train from 14th Street up to Columbia at 168th Street. The train runs express, so it is only a 20 minute ride and less than 40 minute door-to-door commute for me. I always get a seat on the train, and I use those 20 minutes to do the reading for class that day.

I am currently working on 4-Center, an eating disorders unit. I will usually see 1-2 patients in the morning before morning rounds at 9:15am. After rounds, I take care of some paperwork and see another patient or two before heading to a nearby deli to grab a sandwich to bring to class. One unique and wonderful aspect of our program is daily didactics at 12pm, which means we see our entire class every single day. Today, we learned about psychotherapy for medical patients from a Consultation-Liaison psychiatrist, who is trained as a psychoanalyst. One of my favorite aspects of Columbia is the depth and breadth of experience so many faculty members have. This combination makes for the interdisciplinary, thoughtful learning that attracted me to psychiatry in the first place!

After class, I return to the unit to finish seeing patients, write notes, and spend some time teaching our medical students a topic of their choice (today we focused on the psychopharmacology of antipsychotics). I wrap up by 4:30pm in time to meet my psychodynamic psychotherapy supervisor. This person is a voluntary faculty member and psychoanalyst with whom I meet weekly. In the fall I’ll be assigned my first outpatient “long-term therapy” case, but until then we’re meeting to discuss the basics of how to begin outpatient therapy and how I will start to become a therapist. I finish the day at 5:15pm and head home, hit the gym, and get dressed in time to have dinner and hang out with friends. I end my night with a bit of reading, and get ready to start all over again the next day!

A Day in the Life of a PGY-3 Resident

Atheir AbbasAtheir Abbas
My name is Atheir Abbas, and I’m a PGY3 resident.  A typical day starts when I wake up around 7 AM to eat breakfast and head to work.  After my 20 minute commute, I arrive at my office at the Psychiatric Institute Resident Clinic (PIRC). I check my voicemail and typically start seeing patients at about 8:30 AM.  I treat patients via various modalities, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Long Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (LTT), Supportive Psychotherapy, substance abuse treatment, and medication management.  Interspersed throughout my patient care time, I meet with supervisors whose expertise I draw on to discuss patients and learn more about various therapeutic techniques that I am using.  Daily didactics, which take place Monday through Thursday for 1-2 hours starting at noon, provide an opportunity to eat lunch, learn more about important clinical topics, and spend time with the other PGY3s.  Most weeks, I attend Grand Rounds on Friday, given by distinguished clinical and basic neuroscience faculty from around the world.  Finally, I spend one half day a week at one of the local community clinics, seeing outpatients with serious and persistent mental illness.
All residents in the PGY3 year have one day of elective time to focus on research or other clinical training, and as a research track resident, I have two days of protected time.  As a result, I spend Tuesdays, Wednesday afternoons, and Thursday afternoons in the laboratory of my mentor, Dr. Joshua Gordon, where I am using in vivo electrophysiologic techniques to study rodent models of psychiatric disease. 
Typically, I finish my day around 6 PM and head home to my apartment in Inwood, at the northern tip of Manhattan, where I live with my wife.  A few nights per week we usually find the time to jog along the Hudson, in one of the multiple beautiful parks that are within a quarter of a mile of my apartment.  We also enjoy frequent opportunities to explore the city via the express subway stop one block from our apartment. 
So far, I have enjoyed my increasing independence as a third year resident.  I have been pleased throughout my training with the continued personal growth I have been experiencing – as a diagnostician, therapist, pharmacologist, and a scientist.  I have been tremendously impressed with the expertise that I have encountered at Columbia.  I have also been pleased by how supportive the residency administration and faculty have been, and I look forward to continuing my current trajectory.

A Day in the Life of a PGY-4 Resident

Sarah Richards KimSarah Richards Kim
My name is Sarah Richards Kim.  I am a fourth-year resident and one of this year’s Chief Residents. Part of what makes PGY-IV year at Columbia special is that it is largely elective, and every day is different!
Most days start the same. I wake up at 6am to sneak in a cup of coffee before my two boys wake up and the flurry of breakfast, packing bags, and getting out the door begins.  My husband and I moved to Washington Heights when our oldest was born. We love the amount of space this neighborhood affords, and the convenience of being close to the hospital. Since PGY-III year, my schedule has allowed me to bring my oldest to school in the morning before walking to work.   When I get to work, I check my messages and return phone calls from patients or other care providers. This year I see patients mostly on Mondays and Thursdays, leaving the rest of the week for electives.
Our didactics are consolidated in the fourth year, so my typical Tuesday includes classes on topics like couple’s therapy, law and psychiatry, and advanced psychopharmacology. I also meet with many of my supervisors on Tuesdays. We are lucky to have excellent supervisors, and this year I requested supervisors with expertise in Women’s Mental Health, a particular interest of mine. During supervision we might look at a video clip of a session, discuss a formulation, or review literature to inform evidence-based treatment.

On Wednesdays I participate in an elective with the Columbia Women’s Program. In addition to attending Women’s Rounds, where we discuss cases involving psychiatry and the reproductive life cycle, I conduct evaluations of patients presenting for perinatal consultation.  I am also working on a research project examining the impact of perinatal interventions on subsequent developmental measures.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this year has been working with residents as one of the Chief Residents. It’s been great seeing how deeply committed the program administrators and psychiatry department as a whole are to providing high quality education and support to our residents.

There are so many exciting things happening in Columbia Psychiatry.  The flexibility to focus on individual areas of interest makes the fourth year of residency a tremendously meaningful and enjoyable consolidation of residency training. I hope you will consider joining us!


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