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From the Administration

Message from the Chairman

Jeffrey A. Lieberman, M.D.

Jeffrey A. LiebermanFrom its inception more than a century ago, the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons was unique. It was founded with the core belief that the best in scientific research belonged side-by-side with the best in clinical care. The idea that research has the ability to improve the lives of individuals and that patient care enhances the quality of research continues to be our guiding principle. I take special pride in enabling the talented and diverse members of our Residency classes and Faculty to fulfill this promise. From the experiments of the basic neuroscience lab to the clinical interactions with patients in the Psychiatrist's office, I deeply value the passion and commitment that the members of our Department bring to their work.

The Residency training program occupies a special position within the Department of Psychiatry. Each new class of Residents joins and enhances our Departmental family and become part of the Columbia heritage. As valued members of the Department, our Residents enjoy a range of extraordinary opportunities for training and their professional development in an environment that combines world-class research, state-of-the-art clinical services and an illustrious history in one of the world's most exciting cities. From the division of Neurobiology to Child Psychiatry to Columbia's Psychoanalytic Institute, our Residents are taught and mentored by a vast array of talented faculty who are leaders in their fields and relish their role in training the next generation of physicians in psychiatric medicine. Our Residents also benefit from an education that integrates both biological and psychological viewpoints. This integration, essential in modern psychiatry, makes for better science, better clinicians, and ultimately better care.

There has never been a more exciting time to embark on a career in psychiatry. I believe many of the mysteries of mental illness will be solved in our lifetime. Training at Columbia will be a career defining experience, form the foundation of your professional identity and place you at the cutting edge of this dynamic field.

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Department of Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York City.


Maria Oquendo, M.D.

Oquendo Hello, my name is Maria Oquendo. I am the Vice Chair for Education and Training. I joined the Faculty in 1988 and have been integrally involved in the educational process here in a variety of ways.

Education is a high priority for any university, but at Columbia, it is center stage. For example, Residents have the opportunity to learn clinical skills from experienced Faculty with the highest caliber of expertise. They also have access to some of the best minds in psychiatry in the country, and many would say in the world. All of our Faculty, clinical and research psychiatrists alike, are highly invested in ensuring that we provide the best clinical training, the best research opportunities and the best psychotherapy training available anywhere. We know that our Residents are the future of Columbia and the future of psychiatry and we strive to prepare them to be leaders. To that end, we have structured the Residency training program so that our graduating class is prepared to meet the challenges of psychiatric work in research, academic and clinical settings. The curriculum integrates courses that cover the most up to date evidence in all aspects of psychiatry. Whether teaching psychotherapy, pharmacology or neuroscience, our Faculty offer cohesive courses that allow the Resident to integrate what are often viewed as competing theories of psychopathology and normal brain functioning.

We embrace our Residents as members of a warm, caring family. Faculty in the psychoanalytic center reach out to Residents as early as the PGY 1 year to engage them in thinking about the unconscious mind and the clinical applications of understanding it. Senior researchers and heads of laboratories vie for the interest of Residents who wish to pursue a career in neurobiology or the clinical sciences. Psychopharmacology investigators seek to involve Residents in research to teach them the latest methodology in clinical trials. In short, we want you to learn and work with us.

I hope that you consider Columbia as you search for the best program for you. I think you will find that it offers premier quality education in a friendly, energetic and supportive environment.


David Lowenthal, M.D., J.D.

David LowenthalMy name is David Lowenthal, and I am the Clinical Director of New York State Psychiatric Institute, one of the primary training sites for the Columbia University Psychiatry Residency Training Program. I am a graduate of the program and, except for one year of post-graduate training, I have spent my professional life as a psychiatrist at Psychiatric Institute. As Clinical Director, I am responsible for all of the clinical care provided to patients and research subjects throughout the Institute, which includes three inpatients units, a day treatment unit for children (including a public school), and numerous outpatient research services. By offering state of the art treatments to our patients and research subjects, Psychiatric Institute is able to fulfill its mission as a world-class center for psychiatric treatment, research, and education.

Prior to becoming Clinical Director, I worked for a number of years on the Washington Heights Community Service, an acute care inpatient service treating the severely mentally ill who live in Northern Manhattan. It is one of the major training services for PGY II residents, and I worked hard to accomplish three major goals for the residents who rotated through our unit each year: 1) teach the residents how to treat some of the sickest and most impaired members of our society under close supervision by well-trained (full-time) attending psychiatrists, 2) allow the residents to participate in a “community service” in the truest and most laudable sense of the term, and in an environment largely devoid of cynicism and therapeutic nihilism, and 3) ensure that the service remained a place where our staff, including the Residents, has pride in what they do and enjoy coming to work. Now, as Clinical Director, I am committed to making certain that Psychiatric Institute continues to provide outstanding educational opportunities for the residents in a nurturing yet academically rigorous environment where we are all committed to clinical excellence.

As proud as I am of Psychiatric Institute, it is only one part of the training experience at the Residency Program. The residency is truly special in that it provides a unique set of training opportunities that can accommodate the interests and aptitudes of any trainee in the country. The Psychiatry Department's faculty is invested in and devoted to training residents and developing their careers to the fullest extent possible. Whether making themselves available to teach didactic classes, supervise residents clinically, or act as research mentors, the faculty members uniformly consider the residency program a jewel of the Department that must be nurtured to allow it to continue to flourish. Moreover, the depth and breadth of the faculty and the various services and programs at Columbia University, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Psychiatric Institute, in addition to ensuring that our residents receive a first-rate education, allow them to pursue further training in virtually any area of psychiatry that is of interest to them.

I did not find my place in the world as a psychiatrist in the traditional manner – college, medical school, residency training, and post-residency employment. Prior to even entertaining the idea of becoming a physician, I attended law school and then spent several years working in New York as a corporate lawyer. When I left the practice of law to pursue a career in medicine (and psychiatry in particular), I did so for personal reasons related to job satisfaction. I wanted to work in a setting where I could work collaboratively to improve people's lives instead of working in an adversarial system designed to help (often wealthy) individuals make more money. At Psychiatric Institute, our efforts are completely focused on making a difference in the lives of the mentally ill, whether it is through the acquisition of new knowledge through our research programs, the training of tomorrow's leaders in psychiatry through our various residencies and fellowships, or through the delivery of excellent clinical care to our patients. While it may sound trite to some, I am proud and honored to be a part of this institution and a member of Columbia's Department of Psychiatry.


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