Columbia University Medical Center
Ranked #1 in Psychiatry
U.S. News & World Report
Ranked #1 in Research Funding
National Institutes of Health
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 PGY1s as they rotate through their psychiatry rotations. Residents have class daily during the PGY2 and PGY3 years, and two days a week in the PGY4 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, PGY1 residents attend unit-based courses while doing psychiatry rotations. Finally, there are some special seminars held for all residents throughout the year.

PGY 3 Year 

Chemical Dependency - Dr. Frances Levin - 5 sessions - The common features of chemical dependency are described including the development of chemical dependency, its diagnosis and treatment. Specific issues for the treatment of alcohol, cocaine, opiate and other drug abuse and dependence are discussed, as well as the neurological underpinnings of addiction in brain reward mechanisms.

Child Psychopathology - Dr. Oliver Stroeh - 8 sessions - This is a review of the major emotional, behavioral, and developmental disturbances of childhood and adolescence, including mood and anxiety disorders, attention deficit disorder and conduct disorder.

Clinical Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) Workshop - Dr. Patrick McGrath - 10 sessions - This is an interactive course that offers residents skills for critical reading of scientific articles and reviewing the potential application to their own clinical work.

College Mental Health Practice - Dr. Richard Eichler - 1 session - This course focuses on college mental health services with an emphasis on the developmental and contextual issues unique to treating adolescents and young adults in a short term outpatient setting.  The course includes coverage of such topics as the complexities of residence life, separation from parents, and the usual late adolescent ambivalence about treatment.

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.

Good Psychiatric Management (GPM) for Borderline Personality Disorder - Drs. Richard Hersh and Benjamin Mc Common - 4 sessions - This course focuses on Good Psychiatric Management, one of the evidence-based treatments for borderline personality disorder (BPD). The four one-hour long classes follow the Handbook of Good Psychiatric Management for Borderline Personality Disorder (2014) by John Gunderson, with Paul Links. The classes focus on: background about BPD and the development of GPM; overarching theories of the treatment; getting started; managing suicidality; psychopharmacology and co-morbidities; and multi-modal interventions. Residents apply elements of GPM theory and practice to their own clinical challenges as part of the class discussions

Law and Psychiatry - Drs. Paul Appelbaum, Ken Hoge, and Steven Simring - 3 sessions - This course offers an overview of major topics in forensic psychiatry, i.e., the application of psychiatric knowledge for legal purposes. Issues addressed include the forensic system, competence to stand trial and related assessments, the insanity defense, and violence risk assessment.

Food and the Brain- Dr. Drew Ramsey - 1 session - This course covers the fundamentals of nutritional psychiatry including an overview of recent evidence supporting nutritional psychiatry, basic food assessment, and fundamentals for prescribing food to mental health patients.

Seminar in Applied Psychiatric Ethics- Drs. David Strauss and David Lowenthal - 1 session - This represents Part II in the course series that deals with the critical legal issues that affect the treatment of psychiatric patients, including the insanity defense, involuntary hospitalization, informed consent, confidentiality, malpractice and the dangerous patient.

Models for Integrating Systems of Care - Drs. Stephanie LeMelle and Jean-Marie Bradford - 4 sessions - These are second in the series of lectures that reviews care of people with severe mental illness in the community. This series will focus on systems of care and integrated services. Topics will include: co-occurring disorders treatment (both substance related and medical), treatment and mental health issues in the criminal justice system, and patient and family advocacy.

PIRC Rounds - Dr. Eileen Kavanagh - 7 sessions- These meetings will address clinical and administrative issues. Topics may include case presentations, which highlight systems or other important clinical issues, as well as clinical-administrative topics involving clinic policies, documentation, coverage, and supervision.

Clinical Neuroscience - Drs. E. David Leonardo and Alex Dranovsky - 27 sessions - Case discussions drawn from the residents’ outpatient practices are used as a starting point to review and discuss psychopharmacological and neuroscience principles. The course is divided into units grouped by disorder (Affective Disorders, Schizophrenia, etc). Each unit features informal discussions led by leading psychopharmacologists and neuroscientists.

Quality Improvement (QI) - Dr. Leslie Marino - 7 sessions - During a three-week introduction, residents learn the foundations of QI and assess their own clinical practices and the culture and practices of the systems in which they work. As a group, residents develop and implement at least one QI project.  Residents attend regularly scheduled meetings every two months in order to follow-up on their set goals in “real-time.”  Residents review progress in implementation and refine their proposed interventions.  

Sexuality - Dr. Walter Bockting - 8 sessions - This course presents selected topics in human sexuality -- sexuality during the life cycle, the development of gender identity and sexual orientation, sex and the family including incest, pornography and paraphilias, and sexuality in older years and in the presence of physical illness.  The course also covers common female and male sexual dysfunctions and up-to-date treatment modalities for these disorders. It takes an interdisciplinary approach that includes guest lecturers with different perspectives on therapy, i.e., behavioral, psychodynamic, and group therapy. Topics include current areas of particular interest, such as rape, AIDS, and bisexuality.

Traumatic Stress - Drs. Paula Panzer, Yuval Neria& Franklin Schneier - 5 sessions -The assessment and treatment of patients who have sustained physical/ sexual abuse, the witnessing of violence, and other traumatic events is discussed. The course covers epidemiology, neurobiology, differential diagnosis, treatment techniques, and clinical case examples.

Women’s Mental Health - Dr. Elizabeth Fitelson - 3 sessions - This course provides an introduction to mental health in the context of the female reproductive life cycle, and covers core concepts in the management of antenatal and postpartum depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders, as well as perimenopausal depression, PMDD, and issues related to infertility and pregnancy loss.

Implementation Science and Global Mental Health - Dr. Milton Wainberg - 4 sessions - As a newly emerging field, implementation science is the study of methods to adapt, test and promote the integration of research findings and evidence into healthcare policy and practice. This course will examine the current global mental health implementation research that brings evidence to new contexts and cultures for scale up, adoption and dissemination in low- and middle-income countries.

Psychodynamic Series - Dr. Deborah Cabaniss as course director, Drs. Sabrina Cherry, Catherine Monk, and Ruth Graver as co-instructors - 32 sessions -TThe PGY3 Psychodynamic Series is the major Psychodynamic Course in the residency. It consists of four modules: Models of the mind (ego psychology, self psychology, object relations, and attachment theory); Psychodynamic Technique (covering both uncovering and supporting techniques); Psychodynamic Formulation; and Character Diagnosis. Primary texts are Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A Clinical Manual and Psychodynamic Formulation, both written by instructors in the course, augmented with other readings. Classes use a flipped classroom design, with active learning exercises and frequent use of video. Residents will write a psychodynamic formulation and a treatment summary.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Drs. Mike Devlin & Deborah Glasofer– 6 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.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy - Drs. Beth Brodsky & Barbara Stanley -6 sessions -This seminar provides clinical therapeutic and management techniques for treating the difficult-to-manage patient and reducing self injurious behavior.

Family Therapy - Dr. Henry Spitz - 4 sessions - This course focuses on theoretical aspects of outpatient treatment of families. Indications for family therapy, initial interview techniques and commonly encountered clinical management problems in family work form the specific aspects of this course.

Combined Therapy and Psychopharmacology - Drs. Steven Roose& Brett Rutherford - 4 sessions - This course presents a clinical approach to the various ways of combining psychopharmacology and psychotherapy. Clinical material from the experience of the lecturers and residents are used to illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of different models for treatments that combine medications and therapy. The course also addresses issues related to psychopharmacology management with patients who are being treated in therapy with other mental health providers.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy - Drs. Myra Weissman, John Markowitz and Sidney Hankerson - 6 sessions - This course reviews time-limited psychotherapy and focuses on Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), a treatment for major depression and other psychiatric disorders. Classes include didactics on basic principles and technique, as well as review of clinical material. The course is supplemented with group supervision in IPT.

Motivational Interviewing - Dr. Ken Carpenter – 4 sessions - This interactive course covers techniques of motivational interviewing.

Psychopharmacology Prescribing Workshop - Dr. Eileen Kavanagh - 16 sessions - This monthly workshop will provide a very practical opportunity for residents to hone their skills in discussing indications, risks and benefits of particular classes of medications with patients.  

Inner Child Conference - Dr. Clarice Kestenbaum and Rachel Zuckerbrot - 12 sessions -Residents will present their adult cases from a developmental viewpoint. A child psychiatrist will interview the patient and/or discuss the patient's life from earliest memories, traumatic experiences, school, camp, and family relationships to gain greater understanding of current psychopathology and psychodynamics.


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