A Day in the Life of a PGY-3 Resident

Emma

Emma Lo

My Background

My name is Emma and I am a third year resident here at Yale. I grew up in Old Lyme, CT (claim to fame: Lyme Disease) and my dad and mom are from Taiwan and Wisconsin, respectively. When I wasn’t plucking off ticks or gazing at plein air impressionist painters in this woodsy-former-artist-colony-beach-town, I was over-studying or running cross-country, the latter of which I continued to do at Haverford College. To my own surprise, I majored in fine arts, while still keeping the med school option open by doing the unpalatable pre-med requirements concurrently. I volunteered with a homeless outreach club where I became interested in learning the stories of people who had become homeless, and with unbridled idealism brought my easel and painting supplies to center-city Philly to eventually create an art show depicting colorful and emotional portraits of them. I went on to do Americorps in Pittsburgh at a Street Medicine Program, which piqued my interest in ways to reach underserved populations as I served as an outreach worker/case manager for some of the most chronically homeless people with severe mental illness. It was not until third year of medical school at the University of Rochester that I made the connection that psychiatry was the field for me, when I realized that both the patients and the providers were the people I wanted to be around for the rest of my career. I took a year off to do global health work in Uganda, where I trained Village Health Workers and worked at a rural district hospital. My career goals center around fighting for social justice by bringing mental health care to where it is needed most.

Why I Chose Yale

One of the first things I noticed during my interview at Yale was the residency’s value for diversity not only among patients, but among the residents themselves. The colorful array of residents and faculty I met during my interview day really demonstrated that diversity—ethnic, geographical, sexual orientation, and interests—was a core value of this program. This diversity extends to the patient populations we treat, and I have been pleasantly surprised to have an almost exclusively immigrant patient panel at the moment with people from Puerto Rico to West Africa to Southeast Asia.

The second thing I noticed was that residents were truly happy. There was an understanding that residents would have lives outside of work, and now that I am here, I can say that the program actually values that balance in the way that residents’ time and call schedules are structured. They prioritize learning, try not to make clinical responsibilities overly burdensome, and make changes when that is not the case. Depending on your learning needs, you can choose varying paces, practice settings, and patient populations in order to customize your own training. The didactics sessions are interactive, workshop-type sessions that teach by doing, and we even spend time visiting various local sites to better understand the social fabric and resources of our community.

One attractive thing about a larger program has been the opportunities to meet faculty with all types of interests, and I have found some incredible mentors here. At the same time, Yale feels like a family, and it’s hard to explain the sense of camaraderie and respect that exists among trainees and staff. Yale is particularly supportive of residents’ personal/academic interests and truly gives residents the time and mentorship they need to pursue those interests—I’ll talk in a bit about what I have done with my time! I have had nothing but support from co-residents, faculty, and our program directors.

My Schedule

As a PGY-3 resident, I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule. I was delighted to be placed at the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC) which focuses care on people with severe mental illness without insurance. I have a panel of both therapy and “med management” patients, and can spend as much time as I want with any of them (30-60 minutes usually).

Where I Live

I live in the beautiful community of East Rock. This is a popular neighborhood for graduate students, young adults, families, and there are no shortage of delicious delis and parks. There are countless multifamily houses with floors for rent, as well as a few new apartment complexes. A quick 5 to 10 minute drive from Yale New Haven Hospital, walking distance to Yale Health, and ~15 minute drive to the West Haven VA, it’s incredibly convenient for each clinical site.

On a typical day, I go for a run before I bike to get to work at 9 am. I usually have a leisurely montage of team meetings, therapy patients, med management patients, and didactics in small groups during the morning into the lunch hour. If I’m treating myself I get some cart food right outside the hospital, my favorites being the Arepa truck, Lalibela Ethiopian, and Mamoun’s. In the afternoon, I might have more patients or have supervision with one of my attendings. Most days end by 4 or 5 pm, but on my favorite day, Wednesday, I do outreach to homeless people alongside medical providers from Hill Health Center downtown and in the evening soup kitchen from 2-7 pm as part of an ongoing project to start a Street Psychiatry Program here in New Haven. The project began during “CASE,” the block of 3 months dedicated to one’s own particular interests during second year, and Yale allots third year residents 20% of their time for elective or research experience, which I am using for this community project. I then return home to my wonderful fiancé who is a pediatric resident here at Yale.

Where I Live

My fiancé and I live in a 2-bed/2-bath apartment in Wooster Square, which is the charming “Little Italy” of New Haven, famous for Pepe’s and Sally’s “Apizza.” I absolutely love the peacefulness of the neighborhood, especially since Wooster Square Park is literally my front yard. We have gorgeous cherry blossoms in the spring which are celebrated with an annual festival. Every week there is a local farmer’s market that sells baked goods, fresh fruits and veggies, dairy products, and freshly made apple cider donuts. The neighborhood is more affordable than downtown and has free parking (with a permit), but is still easily walkable to the hospital in about 20 minutes and to other downtown bars for a local beer or hand-crafted mojito in even less time.

My Favorite Things to do in/around New Haven

Aside from just staying home and enjoying Wooster Square’s perks, I love finding cool art galleries around the city, which have monthly free openings on the second Saturday of the month and many other evenings. Every October the City-Wide Open Studios project transforms unknown spaces into art galleries with new, up and coming artists’ works. I attend an open studio drawing session of the nude model when I can, offered for free at the Yale School of Art on Wednesday nights. I have taken two pottery classes at the community art space called the Creative Arts Workshop, which I absolutely recommend. I also love hiking and running, and have explored many of the local area parks. There is a lovely biking trail that leads up to Sleeping Giant State Park and beyond (all the way to Massachusetts actually!). It’s fairly easy to get out into nature quickly! On almost every summer weekend, we go to Silver Sands beach or Lighthouse Point Park for some sun, swimming, and relaxation. It’s also super easy to get to New York City, Block Island, and the Berkshires, which are some of the places we go for weekend getaways.

Final Thoughts

My fiancé and I were thrilled to have couples-matched to Yale, our first choice, and we were doubly impressed with the friendly coordination that each of our respective programs provided during the process. Part of our decision was also geographical, since New Haven is an easy drive from both of our families, but we also loved New Haven’s diversity, abundance of things to do, and livability. I am so happy to be here at Yale and hope that you will join our community! Please e-mail me at emma.lo@yale.edu if you have any questions!