Resident Life

PGY1 residents navigate a ropes course during 2021 orientation
PGY1 residents navigate a ropes course during 2021 orientation.

We strive to ensure that residents not only have a fulfilling experience with their clinical rotations and didactics, but that they also have plenty of time and opportunities to enjoy life in Durham, delve into their passions and strike a healthy work/life balance through a variety of formal and informal support structures.

Our residents work hard, but we believe in providing a well-rounded experience for our trainees.

Below you'll find highlights of some of the other key elements of the Duke Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences residency experience.

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Resident wellness is a huge priority in the Duke Psychiatry Residency, and we approach it from multiple directions, including community building, social activities, efforts to prevent burnout and increasing access to mental health treatment. 

We are proud to be a supportive community that helps residents thrive both personally and professionally and maintain balance in their lives.

We also have a residency culture that embraces vulnerability, with faculty and leadership who model vulnerability for residents and work to create safe spaces where residents can be vulnerable with colleagues and mentors.

Support and Mentorship

  • Frequent informal check-ins between program leadership and residents
  • Monthly residency-wide meetings with program leadership
  • Monthly class meetings with program leadership
  • Big Sib/Little Sib Program (senior residents are paired with interns to facilitate social connections and supportive relationships within the residency)
  • Resident mentorship program (each resident is paired with a training mentor)
  • Weekly intern process group; monthly process group for each class PGY2-4
  • Protected didactic time during Academic Half-Day for all four years

A Culture of Vulnerability

  • Intern orientation programming deliberately designed to facilitate rapid bonding among interns and establish a safe community where interns can feel safe sharing vulnerabilities 
  • “Sharing Struggles” series, where faculty talk with residents about challenges they have faced in their careers or lives
  • Educational workshops on self-compassion as a tool to reduce self-critical thoughts 

Social and Community Building Events

  • Intern orientation retreat
  • Intern welcome party
  • Resident-led social committee (organizing social Events throughout the year)
  • Holiday “White Elephant” gift exchange
  • Annual winter party
  • Monthly "Drinks with Shrinks" get-togethers for residents
  • Annual resident retreat
  • Annual party for trainees at department chair's home

Other Programmatic or Institutional Efforts

  • Substantial changes to the rotation and call schedules over the course of 2020-2021 to ensure manageable work hours, reduce call and weekend responsibilities and increase flexibility, including:
    • Reduction from five months to three months of nightfloat rotations
    • Number of weekend shifts during PGY1 reduced by 11
    • Number of weekend shifts during PGY2 reduced by seven
    • Addition of a PGY1 elective month
  • Wellness half-days (protected time away from clinical rotations)
  • “Jeopardy” back-up system to cover residents who are ill, fatigued or experiencing a family emergency
  • Moonlighting opportunities starting as early as PGY2
  • $500 per year academic stipend for each resident to use at their discretion
  • Four weeks of vacation per year, with each resident guaranteed to have a week of vacation either during the Christmas or New Year’s week
  • Duke Personal Assistance Service (free assessment, short-term counseling and referrals for residents and their family members)
  • Concierge GME Services to assist residents in accessing primary care appointments
  • Psychiatry trainee lounges on Duke University Hospital and Duke Regional Hospital campuses


  • Free lunch during in-person Academic Half-Days
  • Evening meal stipend for on-call residents
  • Taxi transportation for fatigued residents
  • Free access to fitness center exclusively for Duke trainees located in the hospital Duke Human Resources provides a number of additional wellness-related perks and benefits 
  • Free parking at all core rotation sites

There are many ways for residents to get involved across our department and institution and pursue their individual interests, through committee work, interest groups and volunteer opportunities. Examples include:

Committees & Councils

  • Residency education committee
  • Residency curriculum committee 
  • Residency social committee
  • Resident recruitment committee
  • Duke Graduate Medical Education (GME) Resident Council
  • Duke GME Patient Safety & Quality Council

Special Interest Groups & Tracks

Other Opportunities

  • Psychiatry Residency Advocacy Day
  • Applying for a Duke Psychiatry Residency Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Seed Grant award to fund a scholarly project that advances health equity

What is it like to be a psychiatry resident at Duke? Five residents walk us through a typical week and share some of their favorite things about Duke and Durham. Check out these behind-the-scenes accounts of resident life!

Resident workroom on the Behavioral Health Inpatient Unit

If you really want to know what life as a Duke Psychiatry resident is like, check us out on Instagram!