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Chiefs Letter

Dear Prospective Resident,

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our Residency Program! We remember the excitement and stress of choosing the best residency program. We want to share with you our experiences as residents and the unique opportunities available to all our residents.

The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely impacted our residency, but not at the expense of our clinical training. In many areas of the hospital, work continues as normal with appropriate personal protective equipment. In other settings, residents are getting their first in-depth exposure to telepsychiatry, which has incredibly improved access to care for many of our patients. Even though our interview season will look different this year, we have rebuilt our interview days from the ground up to make sure you have as close of an experience to an in-person interview as possible.

Our program is best known for its world-class researchers, an emphasis on psychotherapy training, diverse clinical opportunities, and its flexibility in allowing residents to individualize their training to their interests, strengths, and career goals. While the core aspects of your training will be shared with other psychiatry programs, we work diligently to ensure that you have the most educationally and personally rewarding experience during your four years of training at UT Southwestern.

During the first two years, you will primarily work in the hospital setting across several institutions, including William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, Parkland Hospital, Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Children’s Medical Center Dallas. You will also have some exposure to outpatient community psychiatry through Metrocare Services, the primary provider of psychiatric care to the indigent population in Dallas and its surrounding counties, and complete a forensics rotation that will allow you to experience treating incarcerated patients at the Dallas County jail. By rotating at all of these different sites, you will have the opportunity to treat an incredibly diverse population of patients, including some of the most underserved.

In your PGY2 year, you will also have the opportunity to begin seeing your own psychotherapy patients. This aspect of our training program is unique. It provides you with early, hands-on experience with navigating the rewards and challenges that come with practicing psychotherapy. Often, you are able to continue seeing your patients throughout the rest of your training in order to help your patients create significant change in their lives.

In the final two years, you are given a great deal of flexibility to build your schedule. This flexibility allows you to be exposed to new areas of psychiatry and improve your skills in disciplines you already enjoy. In the third year, you will primarily be working as an outpatient psychiatrist in the outpatient psychiatry clinic for the Parkland Health and Hospital System and the UT Southwestern Psychotherapy Clinic. During your psychotherapy training, you will learn psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, supportive, and group psychotherapies. You will have multiple supervisors who will help you develop your skills as a therapist. During your elective time, which accounts for a day and a half each week, you will be able to customize your schedule to focus on your specific interests.

In your fourth year, you have even more elective time and three full days each week where you can choose rotations that will help you develop as the psychiatrist you want to be. Other than the eight weeks spent on the Parkland Consults team, the rest of your week is reserved for therapy, supervision, and didactics.

An incredible range of electives is available during the PGY3 and PGY4 years. These include but are not limited to addictions, additional psychotherapy rotations, women’s mental health clinics, forensic psychiatry at Terrell State Hospital, and college mental health clinics at nearby universities. You also have the ability to create your own electives to truly customize your training experience.

As previously discussed, psychotherapy training is highly valued in our program. We believe that even if you do not plan on practicing therapy in the future, the skills developed through psychotherapy training are integral to helping psychiatrists better understand their patients. As an intern, you will be involved in running groups on the inpatient units. During your second year, you will begin developing your skills as a therapist as you undergo supervision and begin seeing two individual therapy patients weekly. During your third and fourth years, you will see six therapy patients each week and will staff these patients with your three supervisors. In third year, you will also experience what it is like to run a long-term outpatient group as you lead a weekly group. You can also pursue additional psychotherapy training through classes at the Dallas Psychoanalytic Center.

The importance of psychotherapy does not stop with our roles as providers. For residents interested in receiving personal therapy, various resources are available. For example, we have a Resident Wellness Clinic on campus and a relationship with the Dallas Psychoanalytic Center if you prefer to see a community therapist who is not associated with UT Southwestern. Individual psychotherapy is not a requirement for residents, but many have found it to be a valuable experience.

Whether you are still deciding or are coming into residency with a clear idea of your future plans, we have many opportunities to work with mentors and explore your interests. We recently began an official mentorship program. As an intern, a faculty mentor will be assigned to you, but you are also encouraged to seek out additional mentors in your areas of interest, as desired. During your PGY2-4 years, you will be able to pick your own mentors. We are fortunate to have all the accredited fellowships here: addiction psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, consultation-liaison psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, and geriatric psychiatry. These fellowships provide access to experts in multiple areas of psychiatry.

Remember, work is not everything! We truly pride ourselves on the supportive and close relationships we build within our program. Many of our closest friends are our co-residents. Not only are we able to develop strong bonds by working together, but we also enjoy spending time with each other outside of work. From movie/TV nights to whirly ball tournaments to our annual White Elephant holiday party, we see each other not just as colleagues but as friends and family. We cannot wait to go back to doing these in-person activities soon.

We are extremely excited that you are considering UT Southwestern for your residency training! We cannot wait to learn more about you in your application and to meet you virtually at one of our interview days and possibly at one of our virtual happy hours!

We are really proud to be UT Southwestern residents and would love to have you join our family. If you have any questions about our program, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We wish you all the best in your interview season!

Antara Banik, Cecilia Fitz-Gerald, and Chris Sterwald