Letter from the Residency Program Director

Adam Brenner, MD
Adam Brenner, M.D.

The mission of the University of Texas Southwestern Adult Psychiatry Residency is to train diverse physician leaders in Healing, Education, Advocacy, and Research. We HEAR our patients from all backgrounds as we champion their recovery. We believe that everything we do 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 it "takes a village." Our patients cannot flourish if they are not part of a supportive community, and therefore advocacy for our patients is an important part of our identity.

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. We believe this training can only happen in a community that is dedicated to diversity and inclusion and that pursues social justice and health care equity through vigorous anti-racism efforts.

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), a rapidly growing university hospital system (Clements University Hospital and Zale-Lipshy University Hospital), 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 Health℠ Children's Medical Center), three university student health centers, a psychotherapy training clinic, and an innovative public/community psychiatry system (Metrocare Services). We also offer rural mental health electives throughout North Texas and global mental health electives through collaborations in Guyana and China. 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 180 full-time faculty members and 140 voluntary faculty members, we have expertise in virtually all areas pertinent to modern psychiatric practice, including child psychiatry, psychoanalysis, women’s mental health, LGBT mental health, clinical neuroscience psychiatric epidemiology, and areas rarely found in psychiatry departments: medical ethics, health economics, adult autism, 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 as psychiatrists we cannot thrive and reach our full potential unless we are part of a community of colleagues who deeply care for each other. 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 "Families" program, social activities, a weekly lunch meeting, a yearly retreat day, and a regular movie night. Our residents have been leaders in initiating support programs for under-represented minority residents, Muslim residents and LGBT residents through the HEAL program (Housestaff Emerging Academy of Leaders). The Residency Program offers a process group called T-Group, an important source of peer support that is led by experienced group therapists. Our residents have access to the UT Southwestern Resident Wellness and Counseling Center, and we have additionally arranged for our residents to obtain low-fee psychodynamic psychotherapy through a partnership with the Dallas Psychoanalytic Center.

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
  • Adult autism
  • Early psychosis
  • Molecular genetics of serious mental illness and addictions
  • Neurobiology of psychiatric illnesses
  • Neuroplasticity, epigenetics, and adult neurogenesis
  • Dopamine in brains of schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Electroconvulsive therapy, magnetic seizure treatment, and deep brain stimulation therapy in treatment-resistant mood disorder
  • Neurobiology of genetic vulnerability to stress
  • Neuronal signal transduction processes
  • Cognitive/social neuroscience and eating disorders
  • 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, Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, Sleep Medicine and Forensic Psychiatry. 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. Many of our graduates have chosen to join our own rapidly growing faculty. 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.