FAQs

Program FAQs

What is the training in psychotherapy?

The psychotherapy training at Vanderbilt starts in the PGY-1 lecture series.  A full half of the lecture series is dedicated to learning psychotherapeutic theory and technique throughout the four years of residency.  Starting as a PGY-2, residents see psychotherapy patients.  This practice expands in PGY-3 and may continue into PGY-4 based on resident preference.  Residents also receive supervision for psychotherapy for at least one hour a week while seeing patients for therapy.  These supervisors have expertise in a variety of psychotherapeutic techniques, including but not limited to psychodynamic, psychoanalytic, cognitive-behavioral, and interpersonal therapy. 

 

What support does the psychiatric hospital have from medical specialties?

At Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital (VPH), internists and pediatricians are present each weekday to provide consultation.  They are available to attend interdisciplinary treatment team rounds for medically complicated patients.  In addition, multiple medical sub-specialties from Vanderbilt University Medical Center are available for consultation.  VPH is a BLS-capable facility, and in the event of a medical emergency, psychiatry residents are expected to assess the situation.  Emergency providers from the nearby Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital Emergency Department are called for medical code situations.

 

What do residents at Vanderbilt do after graduation?

Each residency class at Vanderbilt has a variety of interests and that is reflected in their choice of positions directly after residency.  Residents go into a multitude of jobs and fellowships that vary from year-to-year, including fellowships, academic faculty positions, research, private practice, and community work. 

As an example, the graduating class of 2015 had ten residents.  Of those ten, three residents pursued fellowships (geriatrics, palliative care, consults), one took on a research position, five went into private practice jobs (including outpatient, inpatient, and psychotherapy practices), and one into community psychiatry.

 

Where do residents live?

Nashville has a great variety of wonderful neighborhoods. For residents who value being close to the hospital, there are nice places for lease within a few blocks. Residents may also choose to live further away, and the neighborhoods around Nashville all have unique characteristics, from Sylvan Park to Germantown or East Nashville.  Typical commutes range from walking a few minutes to driving up to thirty minutes for those who live further away.  For more information about the specific neighborhoods, please see the Vanderbilt Housestaff Alliance Newcomers Guide:

http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/documents/gme/files/Newcomers%20Guide.pdf

 

What is parking like at Vanderbilt?

Parking is very accessible at the South Garage directly across the street from Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital.  Parking permits are provided at no cost to the residents.

 

Is Vanderbilt a “biological” program?

Our program strives for equal exposure to both psychotherapy and biological psychiatry (psychopharmacology and neuroscience).  The former is illustrated by the psychotherapy clinic experience that starts as early as mid-PGY-2 and extends at least through the end of PGY-3, with opportunities for ongoing involvement in psychotherapy clinics during PGY-4.  Didactic sessions begin to tackle the various modalities of psychotherapy as of the PGY-1 year.   

Our biological curriculum is very comprehensive and targets major principles of diagnosis, fundamentals as well as advanced concepts of psychopharmacology, and neuroscience as it pertains to psychopathology.  This is further re-enforced through our Case-Based Learning Seminars (for PGY-2 to PGY-4) which are held nine times during the academic year, and provide an expert led, 1-hour neuroscience lecture pertaining to major psychiatric disorders.

 

What opportunities are there for residents to get involved in research?

Our program offers a dedicated research track. For more information, please see: https://medschool.vanderbilt.edu/psychiatry/research-track-0
Also, you may ask, "What if I don't want to make research my career but want to get some experience?" We hold several research meetings each year to introduce active research faculty to trainees in order to foster exposure to ongoing work as well as opportunities for involvement in research projects.  Such involvement can take place as electives for at least one-half day per week (such as during PGY-3), or even up to the majority of the time in PGY-4.

 

What opportunities are there for residents to get involved in teaching?

Residents across all years of training have a variety of teaching opportunities. This begins with supervisory roles to Vanderbilt Medical Students (VMS) as first year residents, and extends to years PGY2-4 with supervisory roles over junior residents along with medical students. We encourage peer-to-peer learning environments at Vanderbilt, and our residents have the opportunity to teach each other concepts of major psychiatric topics during our morning report conference. In addition to this, residents have optional teaching roles in formal didactics for VMS, teaching other residents in our Residents As Teachers series, as well as additional teaching electives that are created to suit the interest of the particular resident. Our residents have been recognized for their teaching efforts through receipt of Vanderbilt Medical Center and national teaching awards.

 

What is the call like at Vanderbilt?

During PGY-1, calls take place during outpatient off-service rotations and during inpatient psychiatry rotations. These consist of either 5 PM to 9 PM calls during weekdays, or 9 AM to 9 PM calls during weekends. Duties on such shifts include admitting patients to the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital (VPH), as well as cross-covering on current patients at VPH.

During PGY-2, calls take place in 24-hour shifts (9 AM to next day 9 AM) on Saturdays, with primary consultation-liaison work in the morning, and night-float work in the evening.  Each resident does up to six 24-hour calls during PGY-2. Also, Sunday 12-hour consult calls (9 AM to 9 PM) take place in the latter portion of the PGY-2.

During PGY-3 and PGY-4, calls are primary supervisory at VPH either for four-hour sessions (5 PM to 9 PM weekdays) or 12-hour sessions (9 AM to 9 PM weekends).  PGY-3 and PGY-4 residents also take pager-call from home.  Our senior trainees move into a more supervisory role to our junior trainees in preparation for their advancement to faculty positions.

 

What are the didactics like at Vanderbilt? 

Each year from PGY-1 through PGY-4, there is a biomedical seminar series and a psychotherapy seminar series taught by various faculty members including psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and researchers. Trainees have protected time during these lectures where they are expected to roll their pagers to covering trainees or faculty members.

 

Are residents sufficiently prepared for the ABPN board examination?

In addition to the structured biomedical and psychotherapy curriculum that span from PGY-1 to PGY-4, our PGY-4 trainees take part in an in-house board review course in preparation for the boards.  Yearly administration of the PRITE exam to all our trainees also ensures that our residents have exposure to boards-style questions and can identify areas of strength and weakness to target in their study. Residents from the past several years have had 100% board pass rates.

 

Application-Specific FAQs

Do you sponsor visas for IMG's?

As of currently, our program sponsors only J-1 visas through the ECFMG for residents.

If I failed one of my Steps will you still consider my application if I passed on my second attempt?

In general, we do not offer interview invitations to applicants who have failed any component of the USMLE or COMLEX.  The only exceptions are when the exam score is a single anomaly on an otherwise impeccable academic and clinical performance, and when there is a compelling explanation for the failure.

 

Do you accept Externships or Observerships?

We do not accept observerships.  Externships are coordinated through the medical school’s office of visiting students (https://medschool.vanderbilt.edu/md-admissions/visiting-medical-students) and are not coordinated with or a component of the residency program.

 

What needs to be included in my application?

The standard ERAS application covers all the necessary components.  A compelling personal narrative for choosing psychiatry and a history of leadership, service, research, and strong clinical and academic skills are all positive factors in the application.

 

When is the deadline for my application to be considered?

There is no strict deadline for applications but applicants who apply late are at a relative disadvantage because those applications that are completed early will receive priority for reviews and invitations to interview. There are a fixed number of interview slots so late applicants will likely receive wait list status at best.

 

How many people apply to your program?

We anticipate about 1,000 applications this year.

 

If I haven’t heard back about an interview, but I am very interested in Vanderbilt, should I contact you directly?

Applicants who are very interested in pursuing residency at Vanderbilt are welcome to contact us. We employ a range of strategies for reviewing and inviting applicants.
 

I have a strong interest in pursuing research during my clinical training. Do I need to do anything special to be considered for the Research Track?

The Research Track is designed to facilitate the success of applicants who wish to pursue a tenure-track research career. Successful applicants to the Research Track should have a strong history of research accomplishments. Usually, these applicants have obtained the MD, PhD although on occasion, non-MD, PhD applicants have a sufficient body of research to meet criteria for the track.

 

Would passing Step 3 benefit me in any way?

Strong academic performance in basic science and clinical rotations, coupled with a good score on the USMLE Step 1 or COMLEX Level 1 is sufficient. For an applicant with an area of clinical or academic weakness, demonstrating the successful passage of additional steps or levels on the first attempt will be taken into consideration.

 

Do you have a cutoff for USMLE Steps 1&2 scores or COMLEX Level 1 and 2 when accepting applications?

We do not have a fixed cutoff, but failures on any step or level are viewed very negatively. The average USMLE score for entering residents is currently 230 for USMLE Step 1.