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-4 Year

Advanced Psychopharmacology - Dr. Edmund Griffin (17 sessions) - This course reviews advanced topics in psychopharmacology such as managing treatment resistance and use of third and fourth line agents, as well as management of more complex illnesses without clear treatment guidelines such as rapid cycling bipolar disorder.

Advanced Psychotherapy Concepts - Dr. Anna Schwartz (11 sessions) - This course explores selected topics in psychodynamic psychotherapy at an advanced level, including transference and countertransference, therapeutic impasses, and termination of treatment.

Brief Dynamic Therapy - Dr. Alan Barasch (6 sessions) - This course begins with a 6-week didactic presentation of the basic elements of Brief Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (BDP) -- selection, focus, active approach to transference phenomena, handling the time limit. The second part is a 5 month elective during which residents treat a patient with BDP and participate in both individual and group supervision utilizing a unique role-play method in which residents portray their own patients.

Career Development and Leadership - Dr. Deborah Cabaniss (4 sessions)- This three class course is designed to help launch PGY-IV’s into the next phase of their careers. Topics include a CV bootcamp, how to ace a job interview, negotiation techniques, and building leadership skills.

Couples Therapy - Dr. Henry Spitz (3 sessions) - This course is an introduction to the evaluation and psychotherapeutic treatment of the dyadic couple presenting in the outpatient setting. Advanced couples therapy training is also available as an elective.

Demonstration of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy - Dr. Lyle Rosnick (11 sessions)- A video-taped long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy is presented and discussed by the senior faculty member who conducted the treatment.

Differential Psychotherapeutics - Dr. Yael Holoshitz and faculty (4 sessions) - In this advanced course, cases are discussed by experts from the framework of different types of psychotherapy in order to explore different approaches to evaluation and treatment.

DSM-5- Dr. Michael First (2 sessions) -This two session course provides an overview to the DSM-5 goals and process and discusses the major changes.

Healthcare Reform and Telepsychiatry - Dr. Matthew Erlich (3 sessions) -This course will examine select changes to the health care system, as well as the use of telepsychiatry as a treatment modality.

Genetics of Neuropsychiatric Disorders - Dr. Sander Markx (4 sessions) - The genetic basis of several neuropsychiatric disorders has been clarified over the last decade and provides a springboard for the development of intervention strategies. This course highlights recent advances in genetics and highlights some of the molecular pathways implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders.

Geriatric Psychiatry – Dr. Bret Rutherford (5 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.

Law and Psychiatry 3 - Drs. Paul Appelbaum and Ken Hoge (6 sessions) - The last of this series, this course will cover correctional psychiatry, malpractice, disability, and the role of the expert.

Leadership and Management in Systems of Care - Dr. Stephanie LeMelle (4 sessions) - These are third in the series of lectures on the care of people with severe mental illness in the community. This series of lectures will focus on fiscal and administrative systems and on the role of the psychiatrist in these systems.

Neuropsychiatry - Drs. Jon Levenson, Gerald Hurowitz, and Ted Huey (12 sessions) - This course reviews major neurologic disorders including traumatic brain injury, seizure disorder, movement disorders, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, HIV and Alzheimer's disease. Assessment and treatment of these disorders are discussed.

Neuroscience of Psychotherapy - Drs. Richard Brockman and Mohsin Ahmed (4 sessions)- Co-taught by a psychoanalyst and a neuroscientist, this course explores theories about the way in which psychotherapy works from a neuroscience perspective.

Private Practice - Dr. Shirin Ali (6 sessions) - This course provides practical information on starting one's practice. Topics include: finding an office, setting a fee, record keeping, as well as treatment issues that relate specifically to private practice and managed care settings.

Psychopharmacology Review - Dr. Carisa Kymissis (6 sessions) - This is a consolidated refresher course to review basic concepts in the practice of psychopharmacology.

Quality Improvement: Maintenance of Certification - Dr. Melissa Arbuckle (1 session) - The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Program requires diplomates to develop quality improvement programs based on their clinical practice. The goal is for diplomates to reflect on their own performance and commit to a process of improvement and reevaluation that will ultimately lead to improved patient care.  In this course, residents participate in individualized QI projects based upon MOC guidelines in order build critical independent learning and QI skills.

Supervising and Teaching - Dr. Anand Desai (3 sessions) - This course covers clinical teaching across various settings: group didactics, workshops, and individual supervision.  Specific topics include goal setting, teaching techniques, assessing the learner, teaching in the clinical environment and getting and giving feedback.

Seminar in Applied Psychiatric Ethics - Drs. David Lowenthal and David Strauss (6 sessions) - This represents Part III in the course series and covers advanced concepts in psychiatric ethics, such as sexual misconduct with patients and colleagues, research ethics, and ethical problems in a variety of different clinical circumstances.

Supervision Practicum - Dr. Deborah Cabaniss (3 sessions) - In this interactive course, residents learn the important elements in conducting supervision of psychotherapy, including establishing an alliance, listening to session material and determining how and when to intervene.

Teaching Psych-Med - Dr. Janis Cutler (3 sessions) - This class introduces and reviews with PGY 4 residents their roles as medical student small group instructors.


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