Columbia University Medical Center
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NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell

Core Curriculum

A central aspect of the Residency Training Program is the core curriculum. Courses are held weekly for PGY-1s as they rotate through their psychiatry rotations. Residents have class daily during the PGY-2 and PGY-3 years, and two days a week in the PGY-4 year. These courses are integrated with the residents' clinical activities and are sequenced to correspond to the growth of clinical skills. Didactic courses provide the scientific and conceptual basis for practice, as well as a time to consider complex treatment issues away from the pressure of immediate clinical decision making.

In addition to these courses, there are many didactic sessions that are held on a specific teaching service, attended only by residents while they are on that service. For example there is a course on the cognitive therapy of eating disorders offered to residents while they rotate on the inpatient unit where bulimic and anorexic patients are hospitalized. Similarly, PGY-1 residents attend unit-based courses while doing psychiatry rotations. Finally, there are some special seminars held for all residents throughout the year.

PGY-2 Year 

Affective Disorders - Dr. Jeff Miller (10 sessions) - This course covers the phenomenology, epidemiology and psychobiology of affective disorders. Treatment is reviewed from both psychotherapeutic and pharmacological perspectives.

Anxiety Disorders - Dr. Blair Simpson (7 sessions) - This course covers the phenomenology, epidemiology and psychobiology of the anxiety disorders.

Anxiety Disorders (Psychopharmacology Module (3 sessions) - This course compliments the above course by focusing on the psychopharmacology of anxiety disorders using a case-based approach.

Basic Clinical Neuroscience - Drs. Sean Escola and Joshua Gordon (10 sessions) - A review of neuroanatomy with a focus on the neural systems of direct relevance to psychiatric disease is presented as well as didactics on neuroimaging techniques and their clinical relevance.

Behavior Therapy - Dr. Gordon Ball (2 sessions) - This is a critical overview of behavior therapy linking current research advances to specific clinical strategies. Residents learn how to do a behavioral assessment and devise a treatment plan. Some of the specific techniques taught are relaxation methods, desensitization, and habit control.

Child Development - Dr. Oliver Stroeh (10 sessions) - Normative child development is the focus of this three month course. Physical and neurological growth, attachment, cognition, language acquisition and psychosocial maturation are discussed in the context of current and historical theories.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy- Drs. Michael Devlin and Deborah Glasofer (4 sessions) - This course provides a foundation in theoretical principles and clinical skills of cognitive behavioral therapy. The course is supplemented with individual supervision in CBT.

Cultural Formulation- Dr. Roberto Lewis-Fernandez (9 sessions) - This is an introduction to cross cultural psychiatry. Topics covered include impact of language on evaluation and treatment, culture-specific syndromes, folk belief systems, and other issues that reflect the impact of culture on one's identity and on psychiatric illness. During the course, each resident writes up a cultural formulation on one of their patients which is discussed in class.

Community Care for Severe Mental Illness - Dr. Stephanie LeMelle (6 sessions) These are the first in a series of lectures that cover topics related to the care of people with severe mental illness in community settings. Lectures include topics related to the concept of recovery as it applies to housing, benefits, vocational rehabilitation and systems of outpatient treatment.

Diagnosis and Pharmacology Case Conference - Drs. Scott Stroup and Neala Rafizadeh (17 sessions)-This is a case-based discussion course designed to build on the basic knowledge of psychopharmacology gained through the PGY-1 Basic Psychopharmacology and PGY-2 Disorder-specific classes. Resident case presentations serve as springboards for teaching the evidence base and practical knowledge required for actively managing psychopharmacology patients.

Diagnostic Case Formulation - Dr. Deborah Cabaniss (20 sessions) - This course introduces residents to assessment of patients for psychotherapy and to the written case formulation. Each week, one resident prepares a written formulation of his/her long-term psychotherapy case and distributes this to the class. In the Monday class, Dr. Cabaniss interviews the patient and the class discusses the interview. In the Thursday class, the group reviews the data from the written formulation, interview, and enhanced assessment battery (conducted prior to the conference) to discuss diagnostic and treatment issues.

Eating Disorders - Dr. Evelyn Attia (2 sessions) - This course covers the phenomenology, epidemiology, neurobiology and treatment of eating disorders.

Evidence Based Clinical Practice - Dr. Joanna Steinglass (10 sessions) - In this series of seminars residents learn to critically review the literature and develop skills in practice-based learning.

Geriatrics - Dr. Brett Rutherford (6 sessions) - This course covers the pathophysiology, phenomenology, and treatment of late life neuropsychiatric disorders. The course focuses on common issues such as the diagnosis and management of memory disorders and late life depression.

High Value Care - Dr. Melissa Arbuckle (3 sessions) - According to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), residents must “Practice cost-effective health care and resource allocation that does not compromise quality of care.”  This course is aimed to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes critical to providing high-value, cost-effective care within psychiatry.

History of Psychiatry - Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman (1 session) - This class provides an overview of the history of psychiatry.

Introduction to Global Mental Health - Dr. Milton Wainberg (1 session) - More than 75% of those with mental disorders in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) do not receive care despite substantial disability. Where treatment is provided, it frequently is below minimum standards and often lacks respect for human rights. This course will introduce current research approaches to decreasing the treatment gap in LMIC.

Introduction to Psychodynamic Psychotherapy – Dr. Deborah Cabaniss (9 sessions) - This course prepares residents for treating their first patients with psychodynamic psychotherapy, which they begin doing in the fall of their PGY-II year. Residents learn how to begin the treatment, set the frame, establish a therapeutic alliance, and use basic psychodynamic interventions.

Law and Psychiatry 1 – Drs. Paul Appelbaum and Ken Hoge (3 sessions) – The first in a series about Law and Psychiatry, this course will cover civil commitment, confidentiality, and informed consent.

Outpatient Psychiatry - Drs. Eileen Kavanagh and Mary Sciutto (4 sessions) - This is a comprehensive introduction to the outpatient clinic with attention to evaluation, coverage, split treatment and documentation.

Patient Interviewing for PGY-2’s – Dr. Eileen Kavanagh (5 sessions) – Building on the 1st year interviewing course, this course teaches residents to do a thorough and efficient initial psychiatric interview.

Psychological Testing - Drs. Emily D’Antonio and Fern Leventhal (5 sessions) - Aspects of assessment of intelligence and cognitive functioning are discussed with attention paid to profiles of neuropsychological functioning in various psychiatric disorders.

Schizophrenia and Related Disorders - Dr. Tom Smith (10 sessions) - Dimensions of schizophrenia are reviewed in this course: symptomatology, diagnosis, prognosis and the subjective experience, as well as the history and development of psychotic disorder classification. In addition, epidemiological and etiological studies, forensic and family studies, and the various treatment approaches are discussed. Particular attention is paid to current biological theories of both disease process and treatment.

Seminar in Applied Psychiatric Ethics (3 sessions)- The ethics seminars are a series of 10 classes spread out over the PGY II to PGY IV years in which the residents and instructors discuss case-based material on a variety of topics relevant to psychiatrists engaged in both clinical work and research. Selected readings are provided and the course begins with a review of the APA’s Principles of Medical Ethics with Annotations Especially Applicable to Psychiatry. Topics covered generally include privacy and confidentiality, professional boundaries, research ethics, the impaired colleague, and ethical challenges in clinical practice.

Statistics - Dr. Sean Luo (4 sessions)- The purpose of this course is to provide a basic introduction to the statistical approaches that are commonly used in clinical and epidemiological research. The emphasis is on understanding which tests should be used to answer typical questions (e.g., a randomized clinical trial), rather than on the mechanics of how to do the calculations for those tests.

Substance Abuse - Dr. Frances Levin (6 sessions) - This course provides an overview of the major types of addiction, patterns of intoxication and withdrawal, and an introduction to treatment.

Teaching Medical Students - Drs. Janis Cutler (2 sessions) - Provides residents with an introduction to teaching medical students psychiatry while rotating through the inpatient units.


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