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PGY 2: A Day in the Life with Hamilton Harris

Em Collins • 8/27/18

PGY 2: A Day in the Life with Hamilton Harris

By: Hamilton Harris, DO

The second year of our residency program stands out from the previous year as we’re exposed to both inpatient and outpatient psychiatry. This early experience enables us to grow in our expertise and sets us up for a successful transition to our third year, which is exclusively outpatient.

Right now I am on the inpatient side of the year. Rotations are one month long, except for our VA consult-liaison rotation which is two months. At the start of the second year, I was on the VA consult-liaison rotation and it was an amazing experience. Working with Dr. Poor and Dr. Boss allowed me to see the overlap between medical and psychiatric conditions and how it manifests clinically in patients. It’s a great experience to work alongside these learners, as well as  study and present on short topics during the occasional slower day which was educational for everyone on the team. We have a one month rural geriatrics rotation in Crawfordsville, IN, where we’re exposed to different populations and paces of practice. During this rotation we have the opportunity to work with Dr. Rao who has a reputation for being a wonderful teacher and very patient-centered. Two months are spent at Riley’s Children Hospital on the Behavioral Health unit and consult-liaison service. We also have a weekly half-day of clinic at a substance use disorder clinic at the VA and have protected time on Fridays for didactics, Grand Rounds, Resident’s Business Meeting, an all-resident lecture called Power Hour and class-specific lectures.

The other half of the year is spent in the outpatient setting with one-and-half days of substance use, one day of geriatrics, one day of forensics and on day of emergency psych. Our substance use clinic is at the VA and it is a great opportunity to learn about substance use disorders while also treating mental health issues. Our attending is passionate about teaching and in addition to learning about how to start suboxone, methadone and naltrexone, she teaches us how to manage an outpatient health care team. In our geriatrics clinic we have an opportunity to learn about the intersection between geriatric medicine, neurology and geriatric psychiatry. This clinic is a great place to practice some independence as Dr. Wang likes us to take ownership of our patients. During the Forensics rotation, you spend your time with forensic psychiatrists learning how this sub-specialty of psychiatry intertwines with the legal world. Each day, you are challenged with applying your medical psychiatric knowledge to legal situations. We also have the opportunity to work with inmates and learn about some of the difficulties our correctional system faces in mental health. Emergency psych is a good place to do a safety assessment while also seeing patients who may be intoxicated, psychotic or in some other crisis state.

Perhaps the biggest change from intern year to second year is call. So far, I have really enjoyed being on call because of the autonomy and realizing that first year prepared me well enough to feel comfortable with my responsibilities most of the time. And when I do not feel comfortable, I know I have the support of the back-up resident and staff to help me.

Work-life balance is really easy to find here. Our call schedule is reasonable and it is easy to access the hospitals as they are clustered together on campus. There is plenty of time to read up about cases at the end of the day, but there is also time to spend on other pursuits including hanging out in some of the hot spots downtown like Mass Ave, checking out Indy’s booming restaurant scene or spending time with the family at Eagle Creek Park. In my opinion, this program provides the perfect balance of working hard but not feeling overworked which makes for very happy residents.

Learn more about a residency in Psychiatry at IU School of Medicine.


Em Collins

Communications Coordinator

Having joined IU School of Medicine in 2016, Em uses a poetry and theatre background to help bridge the academic world with the creative. A graduate of University of Evansville, he works with faculty and academic staff to formulate unique, marketing ideas that engage the public with innovative research at IU School of Medicine. From writing stories on groundbreaking equipment to orchestrating digital marketing strategies, Em collaborates with experts across the school to help departments thrive in their marketing and communication ambitions.Contact Em at