spaslam

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I am a PGY-1 at SUNY Upstate, Syracuse, NY. I am wondering what would make our program more attractive to medical students.

The program here has a very reasonable schedule (40-50 hrs/wk, overnight call 2-3x/month) and a wonderful faculty. The cost of living here is very reasonable, ie, one resident is selling her beautiful 1900 sq ft house with all new appliances for $85,000! My family was able to buy a house here as well. Traffic is light; NYC is 4.5 hrs away. We also get 4 wks of vacation, a educational fund of $200/yr, individual offices in 3rd yr. The program strongly supports research and gets more research funding than any other department. They have paid for me to go to 3 conferences and present already in my PGY-1 year.

This year we had 2 of our own medical students Match here.

Life here is good, but I feel we could be even more competitive for top medical students. What would make you want to join our program? What do you see as possible reasons why you would not want to interview here? Any thoughts by students, residents, or others who are interested would be appreciated. Please feel free to send a private message if you feel more comfortable.

-Sunny Aslam
 

Doc Samson

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You make a great case for lifestyle (although you skipped the 9 feet of snow), but applicants might also want to be assured of an excellent education.
Who are your faculty?
Do they publish?
Are residents involved in research/publishing?
Have your residents won any major awards?
How diverse is your patient population (socioeconomic/ethnic/pathologic)?
What's the emphasis on psychotherapy (dynamic/CBT/DBT/group)?
What do your residents do after graduation (fellowship vs practice, academics vs private)?
What's your exposure to subspecialty areas (child, geri, CL, addictions, pain, etc.)?
 

HCE

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I am a PGY-1 at SUNY Upstate, Syracuse, NY. I am wondering what would make our program more attractive to medical students.

The program here has a very reasonable schedule (40-50 hrs/wk, overnight call 2-3x/month) and a wonderful faculty. The cost of living here is very reasonable, ie, one resident is selling her beautiful 1900 sq ft house with all new appliances for $85,000! My family was able to buy a house here as well. Traffic is light; NYC is 4.5 hrs away. We also get 4 wks of vacation, a educational fund of $200/yr, individual offices in 3rd yr. The program strongly supports research and gets more research funding than any other department. They have paid for me to go to 3 conferences and present already in my PGY-1 year.

This year we had 2 of our own medical students Match here.

Life here is good, but I feel we could be even more competitive for top medical students. What would make you want to join our program? What do you see as possible reasons why you would not want to interview here? Any thoughts by students, residents, or others who are interested would be appreciated. Please feel free to send a private message if you feel more comfortable.

-Sunny Aslam
Move the school to a warmer climate.

Actually, I think postings like yours are a good start by getting the word out on particulars about the program. I have found the practicability of doing psychiatric research in many residency programs to be lacking. I would think that some top applicants would be looking for research opportunities (and protected time to do same) on top of excellant clinical training. Programs will state that research opportunities are available, but finding the time in all but maybe the 4th year is difficult if not impossible. Some of the "top" programs protect research time.

My two cents for now.
 

sikegeek

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A huge part of my decision was location. I had to decide where my husband would/could work, how close we should be from family, how much I liked the city I was waking up in every morning, etc. Also, where will I want to practice? It would help to be in a location near there- for making contacts, etc.
The most impressive interview I went on addressed location issues aggressively.
 
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spaslam

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Thanks for the responses.

Our faculty are here:

http://www.upstate.edu/psych/faculty.php

They include a chairman and program director who are very committed to resident research, education, with a nice emphasis on psychotherapy. They both are actively involved in teaching and publishing, again particularly in psychotherapy.

Stephen Faraone (ADHD, Bipolar D/O, Genetics) and Steve Batki (Substance Abuse) are both faculty members who are prolific authors. Robert Gregory has published his own psychotherapy for borderline patients that is quite successful.

The highlight of the faculty is how easy to work with they are, from top to bottom. I have never felt threatened, or belittled and I feel we have a pretty wide berth with treatment options, as long as we can make a case for our plan. The program director instructs us weekly in psychotherapy clinic. The chairman is very involved and often meets with us and teaches classes as well.

Fellowhips include, child and adolescent, forensic and psychosomatic medicine. Our child and adolescent program director recently won a President's Award from SUNY Upstate for her expansion and success of the program. The psychiatry department in fact swept all 3 of the President' Awards this year, with Stephen Faraone, mentioned above and our chairman garnering the other 2 awards.

Residents are involved in research/publishing. We have a research track for those with past experience or who are pursuing fundable projects. We currently have 4 residents on this track; they get dedicated time, including during the PGY-1 and 2 years. Others like myself work on smaller projects, and the department pays for up to $500 to any conference you present at.

Diversity of patient population is wide. We work at the VA, University Hospital and State Psychiatric Hospital, as well as providing care for graduate and undergraduate students. It's a big enough city that we get a wide range fo patients, from various socioeconomic and ethnic groups.

The emphasis on psychotherapy is strong here and provides an eclectic education. We have supervisors and a clinic starting in first year, where we spend at least 2 hours per week on psychotherapy topics. This increases as each year goes by and can be expanded further in elective time.

After graduation, I would guess that 50% of residents do fellowships, particularly child, while the other half goes into practice, or academics. This year's group was similar to that. Three PGY-3s went in to child and of 5 graduating, one is doing psychosomatic as an employee of a hospital; one is becoming a psychosomatic attending at the university; two are going into private practice; one is becomign an inpatient attending at the university.
 

Faebinder

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One of the biggest factors that everyone is embarrassed to ask about but registers high on their importance scale is "moonlighting". It probably sits up there right under "fellowship".

It's very important now a days considering how surviving as a resident has become so difficult moneywise. If two institutions are relatively similar, moonlighting capability after internship makes one institution more attractive than the other.
 

whopper

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The Program Director of LIJ told me he did a study & based on his own results, it turned out the #1 factor when candidates decided on a program was if the candidate wanted to live in the area.

I lived in Syracuse. Its got its plusses & minuses in terms of attracting people as a place to live. Its got a large college scene, good college sports, cheap cost living. Unfortunately also has terrible weather!

My own advice to attract candidates? In addition to the above...
-decent call schedule. My own program I was very attracted towards because the call schedule was not an all nighter. I got to go home & sleep.
-competitive pay
-good teaching
-residents have the ability to bring up feedback & complaints to the department without fear of retaliation
-a non-"malignant" environment: e.g. no or small amounts of pimping. No attendings that blow up in anger & take it out on the residents because they lost $500 gambling. No gang of nurses that gang up & try to bully the resident (shall I go on?)

Those have to be sold to candidates in a manner in which the candidate believes it. Several programs tell a candidate how great they are, and when the candidate gets in-turns out the atmosphere is malignant.

Candidates often are more likely to believe a program is in their interests if the residents themselves advocate for the program or if the candidates can also talk to current medstudents to gauge their judgement on the program. I wouldn't believe a program is good if the program director told me so, but I would if medstudents & residents told me.

During fellowship interviews, every single program (except 1) allowed me to talk to their fellows alone. The fellows all told me the good & bad in a very honest manner. Made me feel those programs had nothing to hide.

Another program, ahem, cough cough, well they wouldn't let me talk to their fellows and I heard later on from a buddy who knows what's going on in that program that those fellows are getting pimped to a degree I find would be good material for a dark comedy. I've been told things to the effect that their director on a daily basis calls them idiots, had tried to publicly humiliate them on more than 1 occasion among other things.

At the time, I didn't get the word that there was major pimping going on at that program, but when I found out that they would not let me talk to the fellows, I could tell something was up with that.
 
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spaslam

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Our 4th yr residents can moonlight typically one night per week at the University Hospital for about ~7 hours, and they can fill in various other shifts as well. We also have a local psychiatric emergency room, and state psychiatric hospital, but none of our current residents are moonlighting there now that I know of.
 

Ritz

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I am a PGY-1 at SUNY Upstate, Syracuse, NY. I am wondering what would make our program more attractive to medical students.

The program here has a very reasonable schedule (40-50 hrs/wk, overnight call 2-3x/month) and a wonderful faculty. The cost of living here is very reasonable, ie, one resident is selling her beautiful 1900 sq ft house with all new appliances for $85,000! My family was able to buy a house here as well. Traffic is light; NYC is 4.5 hrs away. We also get 4 wks of vacation, a educational fund of $200/yr, individual offices in 3rd yr. The program strongly supports research and gets more research funding than any other department. They have paid for me to go to 3 conferences and present already in my PGY-1 year.

This year we had 2 of our own medical students Match here.

Life here is good, but I feel we could be even more competitive for top medical students. What would make you want to join our program? What do you see as possible reasons why you would not want to interview here? Any thoughts by students, residents, or others who are interested would be appreciated. Please feel free to send a private message if you feel more comfortable.

-Sunny Aslam
Take it easy, you are just a PG Y 1. Let the Chief Residents and the Program Director worry about it. If you are trying to impress your Chief then it is a horrible program with Interns Pimping for the Program.
 

ApolloDok

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Your program sounds nice. I'm actually applying psychiatry and looking for a program that is a good balance of patient exposure, pharmacology, psychotherapies, and maybe a bit of research! Likewise, I can't deny that location, call schedule (night float system earns major bonus points), and a warm, geniune teaching environment are all just as important.

I think the major difficulty I'm having right now is actually sorting out what programs are good or not. Word of mouth seems the most reliable (from former interns/residents/etc), but that's hard to come by.

-Jake
 

DocHolliday21

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Spaslam,

I interviewed at your program recently and thought it was fantastic! I have interviewed at many quality schools and some that have been brought up here as top 25 programs and I thought your program was just as good if not better. The ONLY reason I would rank other programs ahead of yours will be because of location/ weather...things you can't control.


-Doc
 

nitemagi

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If I were to design a program to make it more attractive I'd spend a lot of time doing curriculum planning, and really get ahead of the curve on a great psychotherapy curriculum. Go beyond "competency" in a few therapies and really figure out how to integrate it into the curriculum and into practice in general. How could you create the next generation of psychiatrists, a group that thinks beyond merely the biological, but understands it in its complexity. A program which has practiced doing psychotherapy even in the 20 minute visit, so it's really an integral part of training all through the program.

I'd be looking to inspire. To catch the imagination of med students, who at this point many don't even fully understand what psychotherapy really is. Create a bastion of not just what mental healthcare is, but what it should be. Since we are in academia, after all, this world should tap into the experts we have available for an idealized level of training, but preparing us for the real world.
 

DocHolliday21

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If I were to design a program to make it more attractive I'd spend a lot of time doing curriculum planning, and really get ahead of the curve on a great psychotherapy curriculum. Go beyond "competency" in a few therapies and really figure out how to integrate it into the curriculum and into practice in general. How could you create the next generation of psychiatrists, a group that thinks beyond merely the biological, but understands it in its complexity. A program which has practiced doing psychotherapy even in the 20 minute visit, so it's really an integral part of training all through the program.


Interesting you should say that. So during the interview, I was able to talk with the chair of the department for 1hr and this was exactly the message he relayed. In fact, he said he uses psychotherapy in his 30 min appointments. I was impressed with him on my visit to Upstate.

When the discussion of therapy comes up, I tell all the faculty that interview me that I have no real idea what any of these therapies really mean. The truth is, I have had minimal exposure to much of the therapies so it's hard at this stage in my training to understand what's important and what's not. The main message that I have gotten from this board is to go to a program where they will train you in a variety of therapies and choose the ones I feel would be most beneficial in my practice.
 
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Life here is good, but I feel we could be even more competitive for top medical students.
-Sunny Aslam
Not sure if it is always a positive thing to recruit 'top medical students'. I am assuming you mean MS4 from top 10 medical schools with patents, published research papers, community awards, great scores? After medical school at a middle tier place, I trained at a top tier medical school and its many ivory tower hospitals and found many of these 'top notched individuals' rather uncouth and created lots of headaches for administration, staff and patients. I'm referring to individuals with drug addiction problems, not showing up to work, lied and manipulated others to get out of work, unethical behaviors toward patients/peers, etc.... However, they interviewed well, knew the right things to say to everyone and look good on papers. Not all were like this but these folks are not the best docs.
 

nitemagi

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Not sure if it is always a positive thing to recruit 'top medical students'. I am assuming you mean MS4 from top 10 medical schools with patents, published research papers, community awards, great scores? After medical school at a middle tier place, I trained at a top tier medical school and its many ivory tower hospitals and found many of these 'top notched individuals' rather uncouth and created lots of headaches for administration, staff and patients. I'm referring to individuals with drug addiction problems, not showing up to work, lied and manipulated others to get out of work, unethical behaviors toward patients/peers, etc.... However, they interviewed well, knew the right things to say to everyone and look good on papers. Not all were like this but these folks are not the best docs.
Funny, that hits on a philosophy some think should be the purpose of interviews - to filter out personality disorders, especially extreme narcissism.
 

lkeppner

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I interviewed at SUNY upstate this season and was quite pleasantly surprised by the program. I really enjoyed meeting the program director, chairman and other faculty members who interviewed me. I was impressed by the residents I met also, as well as the facilities. The program itself was right up there with others that are at the top of my present unofficial rank list.

I think a lot of it for me is location. I didn't find syracuse that appealing. But it sounds like the surrounding areas/lake regions are great. And, it wasn't a total deal breaker, I would definitely move and live there happily if that is where I am to match. I think a great thing the area has going for it is the cost of living (you could easily purchase a house on a resident salary, etc.)

One other thing that might influence some people negatively is the group session that occurs at the end of the interview day. I know that at least two people in my group were really put off by that experience. I was kind of neutral, but did not enjoy it per se, and it put a slightly negative flavor on the day for me in that I had a long drive home that night, and would have loved to have finished at 3pm without this exercise. I felt kind of "used." I do understand the programs reasons for doing it but they may want to reconsider what is more important to them: attracting the best applicants or furthering their own research goals.
 

myPsychAlt

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well Rochester pays for the hotel for the interview. Making an "out of the way" program less expensive to travel to is always a good thing.
 

whopper

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As a former student at Syracuse U. I was told that the percentage of students that left the University before graduating was a ridiculously high number while I was a student there. I forgot the exact number but it was startling high.

After being there one year I believed it.

IMHO it's a combination of the bad weather (extremely cold winters, hot and sticky summers and very very poor sunlight for 5 months), the city has seen better days (it used to be a thriving steel city until the 80s when that industry went down the tubes in the US), and at least for students in an ethnic minority--extreme racial division on campus that IMHO is the result of it being a private school that takes in several sports fans, and people with mediocre grades, and kids with money, but in order to meet EEOC requirements, trying to get in kids from an ethnic minority any which way it can (creating a strange mix and sometimes uncomfortable mix of wealthy Caucasian students, students only giving a damn about sports while their next door neighbor is a kid from the ghetto there on a scholarship having a big problem tolerating the boozing he sees all around). That's at least the way it seemed in the 90s. I don't know if the same thing is going on.

I heard good things about the Syracuse psychiatry residency program, but after my experience there as a student, I did not want to go back to that town. I, like a lot of my fellow students, got SAD there. I never had it in my life until I was there. Never had it again after I left there.

http://s0.geograph.org.uk/photos/13/37/133780_17b4ab89.jpg

Yeah I know the pic's from the UK but that's what the weather is like in Syracuse about 5 months out of the year minus the snow. You get about 2 decent months, then hot and sticky summers with plenty of mosquitos.

IMHO that's probably the biggest obstacle with getting people into the program given the good things I've heard about it.
 

digitlnoize

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So, it seems the OP has two solutions:

1. Move Syracuse. Obviously, you'll need to invent some type or anti-gravity device, or just get a LOT of bulldozers to do this, but it's not impossible, per se.

2. Change the weather. Probably the easier route. Tilt the Earth's axis, increase global warming, become Bill Gates and invent some weather modification device...you have many options here.

Good luck!
 

zac16125

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So, it seems the OP has two solutions:

1. Move Syracuse. Obviously, you'll need to invent some type or anti-gravity device, or just get a LOT of bulldozers to do this, but it's not impossible, per se.

2. Change the weather. Probably the easier route. Tilt the Earth's axis, increase global warming, become Bill Gates and invent some weather modification device...you have many options here.

Good luck!
I believe the Chinese already have some sort of weather changing device, just borrow that.


But to the original point it seems people mainly base their choice on where to apply for residency to location and name recognition (more so in pysch than other programs it seems, at least on these boards). I can't imagine many people wanting to live in Syracuse, compared to southern California or a big city like Boston. Also, SUNY doesn't have the name recognition that a lot of people look for. I'm not saying that you don't have a great program, or that you can't get a number of very good applicants, but naturally the pool of applicants won't have the numbers that other places get.
 

atsai3

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So, it seems the OP has two solutions:

1. Move Syracuse. Obviously, you'll need to invent some type or anti-gravity device, or just get a LOT of bulldozers to do this, but it's not impossible, per se.

2. Change the weather. Probably the easier route. Tilt the Earth's axis, increase global warming, become Bill Gates and invent some weather modification device...you have many options here.

Good luck!
Or, option 3: revamp the program in such a way as to make residents (and faculty) who don't like the location actually forget about the location. Johns Hopkins comes to mind here. If you talk to Hopkins med students, you often hear an interesting storyline: pretty much 90% of them desperately wanted to leave Bawlmore by the time they were MS4's, but when they started interviewing at other programs they realized 'how much better it is here' (ie., in terms of the educational and operational features of the Hopkins culture, programs, and hospital). The ones who nonetheless leave (ie., because the pull of Los Angeles, or family, or weather, etc was just too strong) still describe a nostalgia for the days of yore, i.e., even after they have left for their respective institutions. The ones who stay at Hopkins become Osler marines, Osler lance corporals, Osler gunnies, Osler sergeant majors, etc etc.

Location is a huge driver of matriculation decisions. Why is Kaiser SF such a competitive ob/gyn residency program? It's not particularly unique in any academic kind of way. But you have tens of ?hundreds of ob/gyn applicants who want to do residency in San Francisco, and UCSF only has room for 9 residents. So the rest of the stellar applicants, particularly the ones who are willing to trade off training in a 'true' academic medical center setting (which is extremely important if you want to do a competitive ob/gyn fellowship such as gyn/onc or REI), are all vying for spots at Kaiser SF.

I don't think there's much that you can do with location. You can either a) market your program to people you think might be drawn to the specific features of Syracuse that you have already pointed out (eg., married couples with kids who would salivate at the prospect of buying a full house with a backyard in a neighborhood with decent schools for $85,000); or b) market your program to who are not drawn to these aspects of life in Syracuse. Just like Coca-Cola and Kellogg, you could design marketing messages that will make them believe that they would like these aspects of life in Syracuse. If I had to guess, I would think that upstate New York will always be unappealing to the vast majority of red-blooded 26 year olds who want good bars & interesting restaurants and a large pool of other red-blooded single 26 year olds. But I also know that marketing works. When I was a med student I once saw a mom feeding her baby some Coke (Coca-Cola, I mean) in a baby bottle. Go, mom.

-AT.
 
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digitlnoize

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When I was a med student I once saw a mom feeding her baby some Coke (Coca-Cola, I mean) in a baby bottle. Go, mom.

-AT.
Unfortunately, this is very common. My in-laws are in dentistry and this is a huge problem for them. Unfortunately, many of the parents that do this are typically low on the $ ladder and not reached often by healthcare professionals.
 

whopper

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With seriousness I think Syracuse could pose some interesting opportunities.

When I was there, I was told the concentration of those with alcohol abuse and dependence problems was quite high. In fact it (if I remember correctly) had the most amount of bars per capita or square foot or something like that (I'm basing this on my memory of being there as a college student. The SAD incidence there has got to be high. Several people believe the drinking and SAD were directly linked.

This could pose of interest to those who want to research SAD and it's links to alcohol use.

If you want to settle there, property values from what I understand are relatively low for the quality of the home you can get.