Adult Residency Program

Thank you for your interest in the University of Utah Psychiatry Residency Program. This is an exciting time to join our growing department! In the last few years our department has moved into the expanded University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI), the Veterans Medical Center has opened a new psychiatric outpatient building, and we have expanded our training program to nine residents a year.

Training in Utah allows you to live in one of the most beautiful locations in the United States and at the same time experience a rigorous, academically based education in psychiatry. We are dedicated to providing a balanced training with strong experiences in psychotherapy as well as biologically based treatments.

Most of our residents are involved in research during the course of their training, and many have publications by the time of graduation. Our residents are enthusiastic, well-rounded, and collegial. We encourage diligence during work hours, but also believe that having fun during time off is integral to a healthy lifestyle. We hope you have the opportunity to visit our department and learn more about us.

Didactics & Conferences

Resident didactics are held weekly on Wednesdays. This time has been protected for our residents and they are required to attend each week from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Didactics are designed to teach the contemporary foundations of psychiatry from balanced biological, psychological, and social perspectives. Didactic time is divided into PGY-1, PGY-2 and senior PGY 3 & 4 series. The PGY-1 didactics begin with a one week intensive course (Intern Orientation Core-X). Topics covered in this course include inpatient management of psychiatric disorders, basic psycopharmacology, resident and patient safety, resident professionalism and wellness, and technology orientation.

The intern (PGY-1) didactics continue with a six month course designed for on-service residents. The course will repeat for off-service interns in January 2017. Topics covered include intensive interviewing, introduction to psychiatric diagnosis, and basic psychopharmacology. The introductory psychopharmacology course reviews psychiatric medications, indications, dosing, side-effects, and relevant literature. In the afternoon, interns and PGY-2's attend the same course in psychiatric psychophathology. 

The PGY-2 didactic schedule includes an overview course in the basics of neurobiology, neuroscience, genetics, epidemiology, and introduction to research principles. Concurrent to this, residents learn the fundamentals of psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, and supportive psychotherapy and immediately begin using these skills as they work with patients at all training sites. Junior residents attend a weekly interviewing case conference where they watch a senior faculty member interview a patient and formulate the case.

Senior Didactic Series

The senior didactic series includes an advanced psychopharmacology course focused on management of treatment-resistant mental illness from an evidence-based perspective. Training in psychotherapy continues with directed readings and discussion of psychodynamic theory and research, advanced psychodynamic case presentation and formulation, family therapy, and motivational interviewing. Additionally, there is an advanced psychotherapy seminar, which involves learning dialectic behavior therapy and advanced psychodynamic theories and techniques. Additional senior seminars include a review of clinical neurology for the boards, review of essential psychiatric literature, mental health law, and evidence-based medicine. 

Senior residents attend a weekly psychotherapy case conference with a senior faculty psychoanalyst in which they learn to present advanced psychodynamic case formulations. Junior and senior residents participate in clinical skills exams, which are conducted regularly to improve psychiatric interviewing techniques and are necessary for graduation. There is a resident-run board review course from July to October to help all residents prepare for the PRITE, as well as to help senior residents prepare for the boards. The University of Utah's board pass rate over the past five years has been 100 percent.

In addition to the above, residents from all four years participate in a monthly journal club in which they take turns presenting and evaluating recent research articles from an EBM perspective, promoting critical thinking and evaluation of the psychiatric literature. Grand rounds are held once per month and include international speakers on a variety of topics related to mental health issues.

Psychotherapy

Demonstration therapy is available to all residents free of charge for one year. Residents begin using psychotherapy skills early in their inpatient and consultation-liaison rotations and begin seeing psychotherapy patients in the Resident Psychotherapy Clinic during their second year of training.  Most residents carry three psychotherapy patients during their third year and four during their fourth year. For residents who are interested in doing more psychotherapy, additional opportunities are available to practice individual therapy at the University Counseling Center, group therapy sessions at the VA for patients with PTSD and group therapy for patients with substance use disorders through Salt Lake County. Finally, residents have an opportunity to participate in a unique Resident Dialectical Behavior Therapy Clinic that offers specialized treatment for patients with borderline personality disorder traits or emotional dysregulation and behavioral dyscontrol.

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Paul J. Carlson, MD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Training Director, General Psychiatry Residency Program

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