Columbia University Medical Center
NYP Psychiatry Among the Top Ranked in the Nation
U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals
Ranked #1 in Research Funding
National Institutes of Health
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell

From the Faculty's Perspective

Melissa Arbuckle, MD, PhD

Melissa ArbuckleBeing the Co-Director of Residency Training at Columbia has been an amazing and rewarding career. I love being immersed in the residency experience and grappling with the administrative and curricular issues that I face daily. However, meeting individually with residents for supervision and mentorship are the highlights of my week.

At the same time, I’ve also brought my love of research to this position.  One of the most challenging tasks of a residency training director is keeping up with advances in the field.  From an academic standpoint, this requires continuously evaluating and updating the curriculum to keep pace with emerging science.  In addition, it includes teaching residents how to “evaluate their care of patients, to appraise and assimilate scientific evidence, and to continuously improve patient care based on constant self-evaluation and life-long learning,” one of the core training requirements within residency.

As part of this task, I have the pleasure of overseeing our resident curriculum in Quality Improvement (QI).  Our QI curriculum teaches residents how to translate new treatment guidelines into clinical practice.  Throughout the PGY3 year, I get to work with residents as they consider their clinical practices and implement a group project aimed towards improving patient care.  In this way, residents not only learn new medical knowledge, but also develop the skills to implement new advances within the field. 

The opportunity to combine my interests in education, clinical work and research, as part of an academic community with supportive colleagues and generous mentors, has made Columbia a special place for me.  Getting to work with residents and seeing the bright future facing the field of psychiatry makes it all the more rewarding.


Deborah Cabaniss, MD

Deborah CabanissMy name is Deborah Cabaniss, and I'm the Associate Director of Residency Training and Director of Psychotherapy Training. My job is to help Columbia psychiatry residents get the best education in psychotherapy that we can possibly offer them. I have a great job, not only because I love to teach and supervise, but also because I get to work with so many great teachers, supervisors and residents.

As for me... I'm a “homegrown” faculty member – I've been here ever since I graduated from college. Meeting psychiatrists from all over the country keeps me constantly aware of how outstanding my Columbia training was. The psychotherapy training and supervision I received as a resident shaped my career, my interest in psychoanalysis, and my life. Today, psychotherapy training is still prioritized in the residency program. Courses in psychotherapy are part of the core curriculum of every year of training, psychotherapy is taught on all of the PGY-II rotations, and classroom time is “protected” – even for residents in the ER and on the inpatient units. As a Columbia resident, you will become an excellent psychotherapist!

This is a unique department of great breadth and depth. Whatever your interest, there's someone here who's doing cutting edge work in that area and who has trainees working with them. We're looking forward to meeting you!

Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D.

Joshua GordonI consider myself first and foremost a neuroscientist. From my point of view, this isn’t at all at odds with being a psychiatrist – the two go hand in hand. Perhaps that’s why I was tapped to be the Director of Neuroscience Education and to help lead a revision of the neuroscience and psychopharmacology curriculum in the residency. It is an interesting challenge for me to think about how to teach the brain to a diverse group of psychiatry residents who come with a broad range of backgrounds and interests.

My educational philosophy meets this challenge head-on by attempting to combine neuroscience and psychiatry at all levels and in all disciplines. I hope to ensure that our best teachers bring their expertise to the residents in a way that is clinically relevant, accessible, informative and entertaining. Our curriculum uses a case-based approach wherever possible; clinical questions are answered both from the theoretical perspective based on our understanding of the brain and from the practical perspective based on what’s been proven to work.

The twin perspectives of neuroscience and psychiatry are well-represented here at Columbia, as I have found since choosing to come here for my residency training and research fellowshipHere we have famous neuroscientists with deep interests in understanding the neurobiology of psychotherapy; psychotherapists who have built careers trying to discover how their treatments affect the brain; and trainees of all sorts learning how to integrate across approaches. I can’t imagine a better place to study psychiatry.

Philip R. Muskin, M.D.

Philip R. MuskinMy name is Philip Muskin and I run the Department of Consultation-Liaison psychiatry. Several years ago I had an epiphany. It had been a busy day; patients in the morning, many phone calls from residents about vexing patient problems on the Consultation-Liaison Service, several journeys on the internet to quickly research answers to questions by accessing literature, and a question from a faculty member about a spouse regarding when it is appropriate to use an implantable defibrillator for an arrhythmia (sending me into a frantic literature search in uncharted territory for me). What occurred to me on that day was how much fun it is to be a faculty member at Columbia. That luck is a combination of the remarkable resources available at one of the world's leading medical centers, a Department of Psychiatry that is arguably as “good as it gets,” residents who are culled from the most outstanding medical students in the country, and a faculty of wonderful and brilliant people.

I am an academic psychiatrist. For me, being an academic psychiatrist requires that the individual spend part of the workweek in the process of education. This activity must be a central part of the person's identity as a psychiatrist. Since I loved both medicine and psychiatry, it's not surprising that my area of academic psychiatry is Consultation-Liaison.

I hope that some of you who read this “perspective” will become enthralled by the idea of being an academic psychiatrist and will choose to join the ranks of those of us in this noble, creative, flexible, and exciting career. If so, Columbia would be a great place to start your career.

Eileen Kavanagh, MD, MPA

Eileen KavanaghMy name is Eileen Kavanagh and I serve as the Director of the NYS Psychiatric Institute Residents’ Clinic (PIRC), the main outpatient training site for PGY3s and PGY4s.  I feel very fortunate to have a job where there is such a wonderful mix of direct clinical care and teaching of trainees.  At PIRC, the goals of providing top quality care to patients and a rich education to future psychiatrists go hand in hand.
Prior to my medical training, I was a teacher and have always wanted teaching to be an integral part of my career.  After residency, I spent a number of years as a clinical teacher at one of the main teaching rotations for PGY2s.  From my mentor there I learned the ins and outs of running a busy clinic with high standards of clinical care but I also learned about the importance of creating a collegial and productive training atmosphere where residents are eager to learn, ask questions and seek readily available supervision when they need to.   Every day I get to see patients with residents and we grapple with new clinical questions and dilemmas together – one of the best parts of my job.


Mary Sciutto, M.D.

Mary SciuttoMy name is Mary Sciutto and I’m now serving as the Medical Director of the Columbia Psychiatry Specialty Clinics located on the 12th Floor of the Neurological Institute. In addition to my role in psychiatry, I also serve as an Advisory Dean of the Medical School, working directly with medical students throughout their four years at Columbia.

In all of my roles over the past twenty years at Columbia,  I’ve been involved in mentoring residents and medical students. I helped  develop the Columbia University Psychiatry Residency Advisory Program  which  links all of our psychiatry residents with faculty in the department in an effort to help residents as they make critical decisions about their careers. I’ve come to realize that while our residents are extraordinarily talented and our faculty has both breadth and depth, our residents still need guidance throughout their four years. In the early years of residency our mentorship program helps trainees as they navigate their required rotations; As residents progress through the residency program and hone their interests within the filed, we help them make choices about  clinical electives and research opportunities . Toward the end of residency, we focus on broader career issues, from setting up a private practice to looking for jobs to launching successful post-training academic and research careers.
I’ve been tremendously gratified by my work with Columbia residents and I’ve become particularly interested in the challenges of combining a demanding career with the responsibilities of raising children. I try to use my own experiences as a professional and a mother raising children in New York as I work with our residents who are often balancing  career and family responsibilites.  I’m excited about continuing my work with residents in helping them realize their professional goals as they maintain a healthy balance in their lives.


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