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A Day in the Life of a Psychiatry Resident

Psychiatry really is a fascinating field. You spend a lot of time talking to people, getting to understand them, and it truly never gets boring. Psychiatry residency is 4 years long and the first year can include rotations in things like internal medicine, neurology or emergency medicine, depending on your program. You’ll also probably spend a good amount of time on the inpatient psychiatry unit, so keep reading below for what a day in the life of a psychiatry resident looks like on inpatient psychiatry!
6:30 AM – Wake up
On inpatient psychiatry, I usually try to wake up around 6:30 to have enough time to eat, shower and get to the hospital by 7:30 to check on my patients. Some places I have rotated at have a group meeting in the morning where the nursing staff gives the attendings/resident/nurses taking over updates on the patients overnight. The place I am at currently does not do that, so when I get to the hospital, I get sign out from the on-call resident if something happened with my patients.
7:30 AM – Arrive at hospital
When I get to the hospital, I go ahead and review the charts for my patients for any overnight events and go see them. I check in with how the night went, if they are feeling better, etc. The psychiatry inpatient ward is a mix of people. Some people are there for suicidal thoughts, some people are there because they had a manic episode, it really varies. On any given day, I see a wide spectrum of people, and that is what makes psychiatry so interesting but also so rewarding. You really get to know your patients.
9:00 AM – Round with attending
After checking in with my patients and working on writing my notes, I round with my attending when they get to the hospital. Either we will go to see the patients again together, or the attending will see them individually then come back to the residents room to discuss, depending on attending preference. Once we have our plans I place, I get started on my tasks for the day. I might have to call outside therapists/psychiatrists or family members to get additional information on my patients. Perhaps I need to find hospital records from a different facility. There are a lot of social aspects of psychiatry so talking to the family can be really important.
1 PM – Case management rounds
Psychiatry is very much a multi-disciplinary field. We work very closely with incredible therapists and social workers. We have daily case management rounds in the afternoon where we check in with our case managers/social workers who handle our patient cases. Sometimes things like discharge can be tricky depending on family dynamics, financial limitations, patient willingness or other social factors. These case management rounds are an important time to discuss all of these things based on both our interactions and the interactions of the case workers with the patient.
1 PM- 4 PM – Complete tasks, see new admissions, etc
To finish up the day on inpatient psychiatry, I continue with the patient tasks from the morning. I also circle back around to check on the patients who weren’t doing so well in the morning and see how they are doing. We also take new admissions throughout the day on the psychiatry inpatient unit if there are spaces available so I might see some new patients as well.
4 PM-5 PM – Sign-out and go home
Usually sign-out happens between 4 and 5 PM. I will sign-out my patients to the on-call resident and head home for the day.
5 PM – 10 PM – Self-care time
The great thing about psychiatry is that it really allows for a good amount of wellness/self-care time. After I get home, I will study a bit, read up on treatments for my patients, make dinner, see friends, go to the gym, watch some Netflix, and catch up with my family. Some days are busier than others. Sometimes I will get out later, or be on call, but overall I am very happy to have all the extra time to take care of myself and have a balance in my life.
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