Switching into Psych as PGY-2 from Surgery

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New Member
Oct 27, 2018
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I am an intern in a surgical subspecialty residency and have found that the OR is less appealing that I had hoped and am seriously considering a switch into psych as I really enjoyed my time on psych as a medical student. In addition, a recent family situation also opened my eyes to the huge impact that psychiatry can have on patients and their families.

How realistic is a change into psych as PGY-2? I don't really have many mentors in psych but hope that I can at least get in touch with my home medical school PD for some guidance. I do think that I would have a strong and unique personal story to help explain my change to psych and an overall strong application, although I do not have a ton of psych specific activities.

And what programs are receptive of PGY-2 applicants? If there are any others out there that can describe the process of switching, such as the application process (?ERAS, sending out blind emails to programs that really stand out to you)?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

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Full Member
10+ Year Member
Feb 14, 2009
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A minority of programs have open PGY-2 spots built into the programs (UWash and Cornell come to mind, but there are others), but information about most PGY-2 spots is spread by word of mouth between PDs. So getting in touch with your medical school affiliated psych program PD is a great idea. You may also contact psych PD at your current hospital (hoping for their discretion not to reveal this information to your PD prematurely). You can also directly email programs in geographic regions of interest. But you have to act *now* because spots at good programs fill quickly.
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The Child
7+ Year Member
Sep 21, 2016
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I would say it's within reason. Programs are extremely receptive to having PGY2 applicants if it's open - better to distribute being on call! I know of at least 4 attendings in my program alone that switched from general surgery to psychiatry sometime during their residency. I also met a resident during the interview trail who did anesthesia and switched into psychiatry during his residency by calling around to different programs. He got an interview the same week, flew out, interviewed, and got the PGY2 spot with only one program and I believe completed ERAS after he interviewed.

I agree with amygdarya above. Call around to different programs or email them to see if there are any PGY2 spots available. Look on the APA website for vacancies. Psychiatry Residency Training Program Vacancies. The AAMC also has openings too through FindAResident. Deadline is typically December 31st.
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