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 1 Year – (during Psychiatry months)

Urgent Psychiatry - Dr. Dianna Dragatsi - 6 sessions - This course provides an introduction to the important skills for managing psychiatric emergencies and crisis situations. It includes an introduction to decision making regarding the pharmacologic management of acutely agitated patients.

Assessment and Management of Suicidal Behavior - Dr. Mary Sciutto - 3 sessions - An introduction to the basics of risk assessment and management of acutely and chronically suicidal patients.

Basic Psychopharmacology - Dr. Sander Markx, Brad Miller, and Atheir Abbas - 13 sessions - This course offers the first year resident an introduction to the basics of psychopharmacology, such as how to choose medications, dosing, assessment of side effects, and relevant laboratory tests.

Mental Status Exam - Drs. Jeremy Kidd, Anthony Zoghbi, Colby Chapman, and Joel Bernanke - 2 session - An interactive introduction to the elements of the mental status exam, including tools for observation, assessment, and description.

Initial Psychiatric Note - Dr. Yael Holoshitz – 1 session - This course reviews the basic elements of the initial psychiatric note, with emphasis on the writing of the history of present illness.

Introduction to Initial Psychiatric Interview - Dr. Lourdes Dominguez and Margarita Cala – 1 session - This class introduces the PGY1s to the basics of an initial psychiatric interview.

Initial Psychiatric Interview - Dr. Lourdes Dominguez and Margarita Cala – 1 session - This is a combined class with the PGY2s that uses an interactive approach to teach the skills of conducting an initial psychiatric interview.

Introduction to Psychotherapy - Dr. Alicia Rojas – 4 sessions - This course is an introduction to psychotherapy, and addresses such topics as what is and what isn’t psychotherapy, how to conduct a basic psychotherapy session, how to use psychotherapy on an inpatient unit, and the development of empathy.

Introduction to the Clinical Skills Verification Exam - Chief residents, Drs. Seth Berger and Christina Gerdes - 1 session - Through observed interviews and presentations, the clinical skills verification (CSV) provides an opportunity to ensure that residents master critical skills such as establishing an effective physician-patient relationship, conducting a clinical interview and presenting a case. This course reviews the process and expectations set by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology for CSVs in general psychiatry.

Introduction to Cultural Psychiatry - Dr. Roberto Lewis- Fernández – 1 session - This class session is the introductory meeting of the course on Cultural Psychiatry. The class provides an overview of the field of cultural psychiatry, focusing on research and clinical developments over the last decades. Main topics included: definition of culture, cultural variation in illness phenomenology and treatment expectations, relationship between culture and biology, methods of cultural assessment, cultural adaptations of treatments, and cultural aspects of implementation science.

Quality Improvement - Dr. Melissa Arbuckle - 1 session - During this introductory course, residents learn the foundations of Quality Improvement (QI) approaches within healthcare delivery.  They learn basic concepts critical to QI such as setting aims, establishing measures, and developing an intervention in order to change behavior and improve uptake of new evidence based practices. 

Supportive Psychotherapy - Dr. Alicia Rojas -4 sessions - This is a 4-week course with a practical focus designed to help PGY1 residents engage their patients psychotherapeutically in all their clinical interactions. We ask and discuss important questions like: What is psychotherapy? How does psychotherapy work? What happens in psychotherapy? How do I listen in psychotherapy? How do I know what to say to my patient?


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