Our residents come from a variety of geographical and educational backgrounds and possess a diverse range of professional and personal interests. Scroll below to see our residents’ accomplishments, to read some of our current residents’ stories, and to discover why our residents believe Washington University School of Medicine is the best place to complete a residency in psychiatry.

Psychiatry residents gather in front of a pavilion
Psychiatry residents enjoy exploring St. Louis together. Here, they enjoy Tower Grove Park, one of the city’s historic parks, dotted with Victorian pavilions. Photo credit: Resident Kevin Xu, MD MPH.

A day in the life of a resident

PGY1

Lucas Lebovitz, PGY-1, 2021-2022

My background

I’m a California boy, born and raised in the Los Angeles area. Spent a lot of time running track, backpacking, skiing, and otherwise outside growing up. Studied Neuroscience as well as Jazz theory and composition in undergrad at Amherst College, performing a fair amount with a few combos and larger jazz ensembles. Ultimately decided that medicine was a more rewarding career than struggling musician, took a year off to be a scribe, and then applied to medical school.

Medical School Experience

In medical school, I loved the humanism and neuroscience of Psychiatry, and when I was frustrated at how limited our treatments can be for severe psychopathology, I channeled it into a year of research on autoantibodies and psychosis. Now I’m thrilled to finally be practicing what I spent so many years studying! 

Why I Chose Washington University in St. Louis

WashU struck me as a place highly focused on the medical model of psychiatry and on evidence-based care; I wanted to train somewhere that viewed Psychiatry as a medical specialty, not silo-ed or shunted aside. Also, as someone who had some research experience but not nearly as much as an MD/PhD, I knew I could train to be an effective researcher with the R25-funded PREPP program that was open to all comers. Lastly, I was excited by the challenge of not having a senior resident on the Psych ward as an intern, feeling completely in the driver’s seat for my inpatients. 

Typical Day for a PGY-1

PGY1 is divided up into on- and off-service time. You’ll spend half the year on the inpatient Psych unit (“Pavilion”) at BJC, with a few possible weeks at another similar off-campus inpatient site. Pavilion days start at 7:00 with sign-out from the overnight resident and then prepping for mid-morning rounds. You pick up new patients overnight or do the full admission when they come up during the day. Patients on Pavilion tend to be fairly sick, and you’ll be busy learning about ECT, pharmacology, and involuntary treatments. Without a senior resident, you’ll be the physician testifying in front of the judge to detain and treat your patients, an experience I found equally exciting and humbling. On Pavilion nights, you cover all the in-patient teams to handle any emergencies (behavioral or medical) that come up. You also do any overnight admissions, staffing them over the phone with an on-call attending. On off service rotations, you function as the intern for the team (medicine, neurology, peds, or EM) and are fully integrated into the service. Overall, intern year here is truly a “learn-by-doing” experience where you are fully in charge of your patients’ care. Candidly, it’s a lot of work, and you need to be very mindful of fatigue, but it’s an experience that will give you confidence as a clinician early on.

Living in St. Louis

Coming from Los Angeles, I was not prepared for how green of a state Missouri is. I live next to a huge, forested park (unsurprisingly named Forest Park) with ponds, wildlife, and running trails; however, with abundant greenery comes abundant humidity, so be advised. St. Louis is a smaller, more intimate city than I’m used to, but I love that I can walk to work, to grocery stores, and to bars and restaurants right from my apartment. Having never lived in the midwest or the south, I’m happy to be experiencing new things from float trips to fireflies to thunderstorms!

Thoughts for Future Applicants and Incoming Residents

The application and interview process is expensive and exhausting, and it’s going to be another difficult year of trying to get a feeling for a program over Zoom. I don’t envy you. The best advice I can offer is this: a) get specific information about each program’s rotations, call schedules, vacation times, and sick days that you can compare objectively; and b) talk to as many residents as you can from programs you’re seriously considering. Intern year is difficult everywhere you go, but you want to make sure you go somewhere where residents feel supported and listened to, which can make all the difference. You’re entering into a phenomenal field at an exciting time! Good luck, and I hope to see you virtually soon!

PGY2

David Pokorny, PGY-2, 2021-2022

My background

I was born and raised in Corning, New York, a small town in New York’s Finger Lakes. My parents were both involved in healthcare, so a career as a physician was a thought even from an early age. After graduating high school, I attended Colgate University and took time to explore many options. I majored in geography but also dabbled in art, history, and chemistry. I had a radio show called Hipster Bun-Off where I played esoteric indie rock and discussed barbecue. After graduating college in 2010, I moved to Madison, Wisconsin and started working for the EMR Company, Epic Systems. I stayed in Wisconsin for six years and also ended up working for the University of Wisconsin, Sagacious Consultants, and Accenture. I traveled extensively for work and saw healthcare systems all over the United States. I had the opportunity to work with amazing physicians who inspired me to (finally) pursue medicine seriously. I did a post-bac at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in between clients and volunteered at hospitals in Madison before going to medical school.

Medical School Experience

For medical school, I moved back to New York and attended Albany Medical College. In my first year, I became involved with a student-run clinic where many of our patients had mental health issues, and that’s when I first thought maybe psychiatry was for me. In my second year, I was elected as my class vice president and focused on curriculum improvement. I would continue in that role for the rest of medical school. I used my skills from years as a consultant to get a Degree with Distinction in Health Systems Analysis. My third year psychiatry clerkship was on the consult and liaison service. It was such an amazing experience that I knew psychiatry was the right choice for me. In my fourth year, I completed rotations in consult and liaison, geriatric psychiatry, and a visiting sub-internship on inpatient psychiatry right here at Washington University.

Why I Chose Washington University in St. Louis

Making the choice for WashU was an easy one. In my fourth year, I participated in a sub-internship here, and it was an amazing experience.  I learned more in those four weeks than any other in medical school. The residents were amazing, and the teaching from faculty was exceptional. Of all the places I considered, I felt that this program would make me the best psychiatrist I could be. It really helped my fiancée was already at WashU in another specialty, but it was pizza rounds that sealed the deal for me.

Typical Day for a PGY-2

IPGY-2 is the “survey year,” so almost every month is something different. The PGY-2 residents spend one month on each rotation with the exception of consult-liaison rotation which has two-month long blocks. On rotations such as consult-liaison or emergency psychiatry, you work a typical workday of 9:00am-5:00pm. On other rotations such as research selective or geriatric psychiatry, you have more free time for independent study, supervision, and self-directed learning. As a PGY-2, residents start having weekly supervision to discuss cases, readings, and process experiences. Throughout the entire year, the PGY-2 residents have overnight call about once a week from 5:00pm-8:00am, covering emergent floor and emergency department consults. The inpatient and emergency rotations give you experience in helping to decide acuity and need to admit versus discharge, expose you to a great variety of psychiatric pathology and medical co-morbidities, and continue to build on your experience as an autonomous and confident clinician. There is a big emphasis on becoming more independent during the second year. There are also a variety of outpatient rotations including clinics specializing in eating disorders, neurocognitive disorders, interventional psychiatry (ECT, TMS), and addiction psychiatry. These rotations allow residents to explore specialty interests, experience continuity of care, and to practice psychotherapy

Living in St. Louis

I stayed in St. Louis throughout the fall of my fourth year of medical school for visiting rotations and interview season, and now I’m back. St Louis is a great mix of Midwest and Southeast. There is something for almost everyone here.  I live in the Central West End, and I’m within easy walking distance to the hospital, Forest Park, and a number of restaurants. The food scene is excellent with a wide variety of diverse offerings all over town. It’s easy to get around St. Louis, and I’ve had no problem driving or biking pretty much anywhere. With a car, pretty much everything is within 20 minutes. As pandemic restrictions have lifted I’ve had an opportunity to enjoy more of what the St Louis metro has to offer. There seems to always be something going on in Tower Grove Park.

Thoughts for Future Applicants and Incoming Residents

The residency application process is at times nerve wracking but also can be so much fun. It’s a time to travel, explore new places, meet new people, and spend time speculating on what your career will be. It can be harder to get a sense for what a program is like when doing remote interviews, so make sure you talk to PGY-1s and PGY-2s during the process. If you don’t talk to any on interview day, you should ask if the program can connect you with some. When looking at programs, it’s best to consider what you are looking for in your career. Do you want research to be a big part of your life? Or maybe you desire teaching or service to the community or something else entirely. Find the programs that let you focus on those things while you grow as a budding psychiatrist. Ask tough questions. Make sure the culture and philosophy of the program jive with your personal and professional needs. Most importantly, have fun as you go through the process. Being a resident at WashU has been a great experience so far. I’m challenged and work hard for my patients. I learn something new every day.  Even still, I feel supported by the faculty and my co-residents. Everyone in my class and the years above have been absolutely wonderful as friends and as colleagues. 

PGY3

Fayola Fears, PGY-3, 2021-2022

My background

I was born in Washington, DC and was raised in Cheverly, MD. I am from a family with diverse career paths, and my parents always encouraged me to explore my interests and choose a field where I was happy and fulfilled. In high school, I considered a range of choices, but completing my senior year internship at the USDA solidified my interest in biology. I went to Harvard University and received my degree in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. During college I was involved in various forms of research from a bench research in a tissue bio-engineering lab to field ecology research in South Africa. It wasn’t until my junior year that I started considering a career in medicine. I started volunteering with patient recruitment for a diabetes clinic and with a faculty/student-run community health screening program, which helped me confirm my interest. I took one year off after college to work with Americorps as an in-school literacy tutor for Kindergarten- 2nd grade before starting medical school.

Medical School Experience

I attended Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO and graduated in May 2019. I enjoyed getting involved in student organizations and was a co-President of the WashU chapter of the Student National Medical Association (a national organization focused on supporting underrepresented minority students and promoting diversity and culturally sensitive care in medicine) and one of the student leaders of the public health orientation for incoming students. I came into medical school thinking that I would pursue a career in primary care medicine or Ob/Gyn, but during my third year clerkships, I realized that I was always interested in the psycho-social factors that brought patients to the hospital and the role their mental health was playing in their overall well being, which led to me applying to psychiatry. As a fourth year, I completed electives in inpatient and outpatient child psychiatry, which has led to my current interest in pursuing a child psychiatry fellowship after my general psychiatry residency.

Why I Chose Washington University in St. Louis

As a medical student at WashU, I was well aware of the tremendous resources available from facilities to faculty and staff. I appreciated the mentoring I had received from faculty within the department and the camaraderie among the residents. I also felt that the value the program placed on autonomy and resident-directed career development was important.

Typical Day for a PGY-3

Our third year of residency is completely outpatient and is divided between the child psychiatry clinic, the resident clinic, and a community mental health clinic located in downtown St. Louis. We see a wide variety of patients throughout these three experiences, and are able to appreciate practicing in different outpatient settings. Since the onset of COVID-19, all three sites have increased utilization of telemedicine, allowing patients to access care and providing residents with exposure to practicing telepsychiatry.

This year provides residents with excellent exposure to patients of all ages and various psychiatric disorders. For the resident and community mental health clinic, we autonomously run our clinics with minimal, yet sufficient, supervision. The child psychiatry clinic has more oversight provided by a child psychiatry attending who sees all of the patients with the resident. The day typically starts between 8:30-9:00AM, and most of the mornings are dedicated to didactic lectures and grand rounds. In the afternoons, I work at my assigned clinics and see 1-2 new intakes and 3-4 follow ups. 

On Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday afternoons, I work in the resident clinic seeing adult patients with a variety of disorders who have at some point in their course required psychiatric hospitalization. On Wednesday afternoons, I work in the child psychiatry clinic, where I see toddlers, children, teenagers, and young adults with various diagnoses including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, autism, intellectual disability, ADHD, disruptive disorders, and developmental delays. Midway through the year, we switch child psychiatry clinics allowing us to work with a different attending and in some cases see a different patient population. On Friday afternoons, I work at the community mental health clinic, where I see a wide variety of severe mental health diagnoses including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, and substance disorders. There I am a part of team of people including community support specialists, therapists, and nurses who work to provide patient centered care. The work day is usually completed by 4:00-5:00PM allowing time to prioritize errands, hobbies, and relationships.

As a third year resident, you no longer work weekends or holidays, which is a huge boost to work/life balance. Many of the residents (including myself) moonlight, doing emergency department psychiatry consults for extra money. On average, every week you have one 5pm-11pm shift where you alternate seeing consults with the PGY-2 on call resident and one nightfloat shift where you are on-call overnight at home and are only called in to help if there are enough open consults. Residents are able to moonlight during their PGY3 and PGY4 years. 

Living in St. Louis

Since I started medical school, I have lived in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis. I enjoy living close to the hospital and medical school campus (only about a 10 minute walk) and being close to entertainment, restaurants, and bars. The neighborhood is adjacent to Forest Park, which is great for outdoor activities like walking, biking, and golf, but it also contains great museums, an outdoor amphitheater, a free zoo, and hosts many festivals throughout the year. I enjoy living in St. Louis, cost of living is very reasonable, there’s less traffic than larger cities, and there is always something to do. I’ve had fun trying beers at local breweries, going to cultural events in the botanical gardens, going to Cardinals games, shopping for produce at different farmers markets, and eating donuts at late night donut shops.

Thoughts for Future Applicants and Incoming Residents

I found applying to residency to be one of the most stressful yet interesting and satisfying parts of medical school. Reflecting on the past experiences that brought me to that point put in perspective all the hard work and encouraged me going forward. Traveling across the country meeting new people and hearing about different residency programs was fun and informative, and ending up with a place at a program I respected and was excited to join was an excellent way to end the process. Being a resident at WashU has been a great experience so far: there has been great support from staff and faculty, my co-interns are great to work with and friendly, and I’ve had enough personal time to enjoy family and friends. As challenging as it has been at times, it’s been just as rewarding. Try to choose a program where you can envision being happy, healthy, and developing into the kind of doctor you want to be. You’ve worked really hard to get to this point in your journey, don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

PGY4

Matthew Chapman, PGY-4 and Chief Resident, 2021-2022

My Background

I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio in a family of healthcare professionals, so I always knew medicine would be my calling. After graduating from Saint Ignatius, a Jesuit Catholic High School, I knew I wanted to continue with this education and so attended Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri where I majored in Cellular & Physiology Biology and minored in Psychology. My interests have always heavily been in the sciences and academia, so–while there–I participated for three years in biology research looking at membrane-anchored ubiquitin protein as well as tutoring and working as a teaching assistant. I took one year off after graduation to obtain a graduate certificate in Clinical Pathology through the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, to work as a medical assistant in an Orthopedic office and unit secretary for a Surgical ICU, and to participate in various community service projects.

Medical School Experience

I attended Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska where I graduated in May 2018. When I completed my psychiatry clerkship in the third year, I fell in love with the field. The mentors I came across, the patient population I treated, and the psychopathology and neuroscience all impacted my decision to apply to psychiatry as my first-choice specialty. I continued teaching and tutoring and became involved in Forensic Psychiatry research. My experiences and education made it so clear that psychiatry was ultimately going to be my lifetime career and passion.

Why I Chose Washington University in St. Louis

The training program at WashU is something I was instantly drawn to during my pursuit of finding the right residency program. It provides an extraordinary amount of independence and autonomy to its residents, something that I always knew I wanted. On my interview day, all of the faculty I met were warm, inviting, and passionate about their positions and the program. The residents I interacted with all appeared genuinely happy and well-rounded. The department consistently demonstrated its desire to train top-notch, well-educated clinicians, and it was easy for me to see that. The inpatient unit is run and maintained entirely by the interns; the second year residents have opportunities to participate in interventional psychiatry (ECT, TMS), addictions, geriatrics, eating disorder, chemical dependency, and thriving consult-liaison and emergency services; the third years have their own offices during the outpatient year, and the fourth year schedule can be tailored to one’s own individual needs, whether it is for clinician education, research, or various electives in perinatal health, sleep medicine, or neuropathology.

Typical Day for a PGY-4

The PGY-4 year is very flexible compared to prior years with lots of free time and options to pursue research or individual interests. While many residents choose to maximize their research time, some are more clinically oriented, taking electives such as Toxicology, TMS, ECT, or Forensics. The required clinical rotations include 2-3 months of Consult Supervision and 1-2 months of Inpatient Supervision, depending on the year and number of residents in the class. I also attend resident lectures on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings throughout the academic year, outpatient clinic 3-4 afternoons a month, and personal supervision twice a week. In addition, 4 months of the year are dedicated to working on a research project. Moonlighting is also available to residents who are interested in earning extra money by helping with Emergency Room Consults.  

Thoughts for Future Applicants and Incoming Residents

Applying for residency and choosing a program can be intimidating. It is scary, stressful, and anxiety-provoking. But it is also some of the most fun you will have as you travel across the country in this once-in-a-lifetime process. WashU has been a fantastic experience for me thus far, and I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to train here for my psychiatry residency. The support from my co-interns and faculty has been great, I’ve made tons of new friends, and I am looking forward to whatever the future brings for me. As challenging as it may be to picture yourself as a resident, just know that it all works out. Keep yourself healthy, stay balanced, and know that everything is going to be okay in the end. As the Dean of Students at my medical school reminded us often: you are exactly where you are supposed to be. So, live in the moment, enjoy it while you can, and may you have the best of luck in your future endeavors!

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