School of Medicine

General Psychiatry Residency


Week in the Life of PGY-4 Resident, James McCoy, MD

4th year. Wooh! I made it. The highly anticipated 4th year is free from call and you get to tailor your rotations to your interests and fine tune your knowledge of psychiatry. Obviously COVID has changed a lot of our typical routine, but the program and residents have adjusted very well.

MONDAY My Mondays are at Impact Clinic, which is a nonprofit psychiatric clinic that offers services to low-income and uninsured individuals at no cost. The supervisor is Dr. Gardner, who loves to teach and discuss patient cases with residents. I was in this clinic for a half day during my third year and liked it so much I made it a full day this year. I really enjoy serving this patient population, it helps remind me of why I went into psychiatry. Each resident is assigned a social worker to help find and maximize as many resources as we can for our patients. Before COVID ruined everything my co-residents and I would meet up at a Buffet down the street from the clinic and eat till we felt sick. However, now I primarily work from home utilizing Televirtual visits. This has its pros and cons. Because I don't have to commute to work I can go for a morning run or sleep in a little longer. It’s a tough decision to make on a Monday morning. Luckily if I do decide to count Z’s instead of run, I can do a quick work out during my lunch break. This particular day I finish around 5 pm and my wife and I decide what to do for the evening. We decide to meet up with friends at the park and play pickle ball and throw a frisbee around.
TUESDAY It’s Tuesday morning and I have my continuity clinic. It’s also completed at home virtually because of COVID, however we have 30 min of skype time with co residents and the attending. The attendings that do the supervision are very knowledgeable, super friendly, and approachable. This and getting to work with patients for 2 years make it a very enjoyable rotation. When we do work in the office you have some on best views in town. If it’s the winter I am able to see the sunset while finishing notes. The views from our downtown clinic are hard to beat. You either have a great view of the mountains or the Utah skyline. We finish up with supervision and I hop in my car to drive to my next rotation, which is Ketamine Clinic. I live 40 minutes south of Salt Lake so it’s a little commute, and I use the time to listen to the Carlat psychiatry report podcast. I work with Dr. Carlson the program director and also the king of puns. I really enjoy the clinic and am fascinated with how well it can work for some patients. We finish up clinic and I head home. The commute home is about an hour with traffic, but I listen to my favorite comedy/Dungeon and Dragon podcast to pass the time. When I get home my wife and I hop on our bikes and ride along the Jordan River Trail. This trail is well maintained and LONG! The paved path follows right along the Jordan River for over 50 miles. If we are not biking we are walking/running with our dog on the trail. But don’t run or bike with your mouth open because you will eat a bug. For sure.
WEDNESDAY Wednesday is Didactic day! A nice break in the week and fun to connect with my co-residents. It’s now completed over zoom, which is a bummer, because we used to go out and eat together during lunch break. Hopefully at some point we can go back to something resembling normalcy. We finish with lectures today at 2:00. One of my co-residents invited my wife and I to come over and pick cherries. After picking cherries we decided to make a cherry cobbler. We looked up a recipe online and tried it out. We completely messed up the recipe but it still tasted great, surprisingly. We also played board games together and afterwards as my wife and I drove home together, we talked about the friendships we have made throughout residency.
THURSDAY Thursday I work at the VA hospital all day. I get to work with THE Dr. Charles William Watts aka Billy Watts. This is another rotation I did during 3rd year and really enjoyed. I arrive at 8am and chat with Dr. Watts about the patient list. We have a few follow ups and two new consults to complete. Like all consult shifts they can be busy or pretty quiet. It looks like today is going to be busy, which is ok because we will take a lunch break at one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in Salt Lake. Not only is Dr. Watts a fantastic physician he also is a connoisseur of Pho. He has introduced many residents to this fine cuisine. Guy Fieri and Jimmy John himself have talked about this particular restaurant. After work my wife and I decide to go to the drive-in theater. Before COVID we used to do dinner and movie as our go to date, so we have missed going out to movies. I pull my truck up to the spot, open the bed and roll out our pad and blankets. We stay for the double feature, the movies were pretty terrible but the weather was perfect.
FRIDAY / SATURDAY Friday finally rolls around. It’s my lightest day of the week and a nice way to wind down. Friday morning is medical student wellness, which is providing therapy to medical students. I’m assigned to four medical students and it’s awesome, I really enjoy it. My Friday afternoon is Idaho Chief time which usually is an hour meeting and completing whatever needs to be done. The meeting goes well and it’s good to check in with everyone, but I can’t wait for the weekend. My wife and I are going flyfishing! It’s one of my favorite hobbies and something my wife kinda enjoys, but she is awesome and goes anyway. The location is a top secret spot that my brother and I found years ago. You have to hit the river at a very specific time of the year. The river is a few hours away so we decided to camp along the river to start out early. By the time we get there it’s dark, but the roof top tent is really easy to set up. In ten minutes we have the tent set up and a fire going. After relaxing by the fire we get ready for bed. It looks like a cloudless night with no moon. I checked the weather and it said there were no expected showers for tonight or the next morning. I take the rain fly off, open the windows and the roof. There is a cool breeze that carries a pine scent from the trees and the stars are incredibly vibrant. It’s absolutely perfect. I wake up early and get breakfast ready for my wife and I. After breakfast I check my wife’s waders and boots for spiders, it’s her one condition to go fishing with me. San Spiders we suit up and head out. It’s kinda chilly out, but that’s actually a good thing, because we have to hike a few miles in our waders which can get really hot. We hit the river at the perfect time and the fish are active. There is a fly hatch going on and I catch a fly with my hat, find its imitation and wet my line. We caught beautiful cutthroat and tiger trout. My wife landed the biggest fish of the day so she had to buy dinner. We head home, stop at our favorite restaurant and talk about the awesome day.