Letter from the Residency Program Director

Adam Brenner, MD
Adam Brenner, M.D.

We believe that everything we do at the UT Southwestern Psychiatry Residency should begin with thinking about the patient with mental illness, and that every such patient deserves to have an excellent psychiatrist. People with mental illness present complicated pictures and deserve psychiatrists who are adept in thinking on many different levels – molecular neurobiology, structural and functional neuroanatomy, subjective narrative experience, social systems, and cultural influences, among others. We need to know how to access and assess the evidence base for all these levels of thinking and for their corresponding interventions, and then immerse ourselves in understanding the current explosion of brain science which will generate new paradigms and interventions in the years ahead.

We believe that a trusting relationship of the patient with his/her psychiatrist is at the heart of all potential for healing and recovery, and that this trust develops when the patient can feel that his/her psychiatrist truly listens to their concerns, and is engaged with the entire person of the patient, even those parts which are disturbing or maladaptive. Indeed, mental illnesses are so challenging that they generally require more than the one-to-one relationship - it takes a team of providers, and that it also ‘takes a village’. Our patients cannot flourish if they are not part of a true community, and we as psychiatrists cannot thrive unless we feel part of a community of colleagues who deeply care for each other.

We are committed to training psychiatrists who are expert in the brain, the mind, and social systems; who are highly capable at working in teams and care systems; who meet each patient with dignity and the desire to listen; and who feel supported by our training community and in turn support each other.

UT Southwestern’s residents are exposed to a wide variety of systems of psychiatric care and patient populations. Our clinical sites include one of the premier county hospitals in the country (Parkland Memorial Hospital), two private university hospitals (UT Southwestern University Hospitals), a Veterans Affairs hospital that is one of the VA’s academic flagship centers (Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center), a tertiary care pediatric hospital (Children's Medical Center), two university student health centers, and an innovative public-private nonprofit community psychiatry system (Metrocare Services). Diversity of settings allows our residents to care for the widest possible range of patients by diagnosis, ethnic background, socio-economic status, and location.

Excellence in All Areas of Psychiatry

With 130 full-time faculty members and 140 voluntary faculty members, we have expertise in virtually all areas pertinent to modern psychiatric practice, including psychoanalysis, neurobiology, psychiatric epidemiology, and areas rarely found in psychiatry departments: medical ethics, health economics, family systems studies, psychotherapy research, neurogenesis, and psychoneuroendocrinology. We place a special emphasis on our commitment to serving our local community, and to providing community/public psychiatry training that is second to none.

A Commitment to the Resident’s Quality of Life

We believe that optimal patient care is provided by psychiatrists who have balanced and satisfying lives. We constantly look for ways to support our residents in this pursuit. This includes the many activities run by our vigorous Psychiatry Residents Organization, including a ‘Big Siblings’ program, social activities, a weekly lunch meeting, a yearly retreat day, and a regular movie night. The Residency Program offers a process group called T-Group, an important source of peer support that is led by experienced group therapists. We also have arranged for our residents to obtain low-fee psychotherapy with excellent psychotherapists at the resident’s request.

Education at the Cutting Edge – Evidence Based Psychiatry

We view the presence and involvement of internationally recognized researchers as central to providing our residents with the latest, most advanced, evidence-based clinical tools, to prepare them to administer treatments yet to come. The Department's exciting research programs include:

  • Biomarkers for mental illness
  • Functional imaging in schizophrenia, depression, anorexia, addictions, and more
  • Psychotherapy research, including individual and family
  • Mental health systems and quality improvement
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Molecular genetics of serious mental illness and addictions
  • Neurobiology of various psychiatric illnesses
  • Neuroplasticity and adult neurogenesis
  • Dopamine in brains of schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Electroconvulsive therapy and multisystemic therapy in treatment-resistant mood disorder
  • Neurobiology of genetic vulnerability to stress
  • Neuronal signal transduction processes
  • Cognitive and social neuroscience
  • Sleep and arousal mechanisms, circadian rhythms, and the molecular clock
  • Dissemination and implementation research, including medication algorithms
  • Treatment resistance in mood disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse
  • Effectiveness of interventions in 'real-world' settings
  • Psychiatric epidemiology
  • Neuropsychology

Our curriculum is evidence-based not only in its content, but also in how we teach. We have revised our didactic curriculum based on the most up-to-date understanding of how adults learn, and now we are rigorously studying our own educational efforts to make sure that we are effectively teaching and inspiring our residents.

Breadth of Exposure and Diversity of Careers

UT Southwestern graduates are prepared to go in any direction they choose, having been exposed in depth, with appreciative understanding, to every area within psychiatry. We offer ACGME-accredited fellowships in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, Addictions Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Psychiatry, and Sleep Medicine. Some of our graduates elect to pursue these fellowships with us while others have gone on to other prominent programs around the country.

In recent years our graduates have gone on to private practice, basic or clinical research careers, psychoanalytic training, academic appointments all over the country, and public psychiatry. We welcome applicants with any of these aspirations (or others we haven’t yet thought of), and we strive to help each resident define his/her individual interests and plan a personally fulfilling career.