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Didactics Structure

Resident didactics are held weekly on Wednesdays. This time has been protected for residents and they are required to attend 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.

In the morning, all residents attend an interactive case conference followed by a journal club where they discuss important publications in the field of psychiatry. There is typically a guest lecturer who speaks on topics meant to broaden residents’ understanding of the issues at play in psychiatry. Lecturers are selected in rotating order by the residents pursuing elective concentrations in global mental health, women’s mental health, community psychiatry, neuropsychiatry, and research.

In the afternoon, residents break off into small groups which are divided into PGY1, PGY2 and senior PGY 3 & 4 series. Employed teaching modalities include problem-based (group) learning (PBL), demonstration of therapy, traditional lecture-based learning, and simulated code blue training. Each year our residents submit feedback regarding didactics resulting in an ever-improving and resident-driven education. Furthermore, residents also have plenty of opportunities to teach as well.

PGY1 Didactic Series

Interns begin with a one week intensive course preparing them for their clinical rotations. Topics covered in this course include inpatient management of psychiatric disorders, basic psychopharmacology, safety, professionalism, wellness, and technology orientation. The week also provides space for interns to form relationships with their peers and to feel out the program, so they start the year feeling confident that they will be supported and supervised.

After orientation, half of the PGY1 cohort will start on-service (psychiatry) and the other half will start off-service (internal medicine, neurology, elective). The two groups each three months. The PGY1 didactics series is split into two separate three month blocks attended by on-service residents only. Topics covered include interviewing skills, supportive psychotherapy, basic diagnostic reasoning and a broad overview of relevant psychopathology including its social and biological underpinnings. The introductory psychopharmacology course reviews psychiatric medications, their mechanisms of action, indications, dosing, side-effects, and relevant literature. They will also have the opportunity to attend resident debrief groups led by a psychologist.

PGY2 Didactic Series

The PGY2 didactic schedule heavily focuses on psychotherapy as well as lectures on mindfulness, CBT, DBT, ACT, interpersonal psychotherapy and existential psychotherapy. PGY2 year also includes an overview courses in neuroscience, genetics, epidemiology and introduction to research principles.

Senior Didactic Series

The senior didactic series includes an Emerging Neurobiology of Mental Illness course as well as an Advanced Psychopharmacology course focused on management of treatment-resistant mental illness from an evidence-based perspective. Training in psychotherapy continues with an advanced psychotherapy research seminar, emphasis on psychodynamic case presentation and formulation, family therapy, and mastery of motivational interviewing. There is also increased focus on child psychiatry and shared educational experiences with the child psychiatry fellows. Additional senior seminars include a review of clinical neurology for the boards, review of essential psychiatric literature, mental health law, and evidence-based medicine. The University of Utah's board pass rate over the past five years has been 100 percent.