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Psychiatry Resident Life

Residents at Friendsgiving CelebrationWe 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.

Life in Durham

Image: American Tobacco Campus. Text: Click here to learn all about Durham: Things to do, demographics, housing, schools, more!Durham is an incredible place to live, work, train and more! But don’t take our word for it—see for yourself why we love the Bull City so much:

Visit our Life in Durham page to learn more about our dynamic city!


Resident Caitlin Tillberg with Therapy DogResident 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
  • Protected didactic time during Academic Half-Day for all four years

Social and Community Building Events

  • Resident-led social committee
  • Residency Thanksgiving celebration
  • Holiday “White Elephant” gift exchange
  • Annual winter party
  • “Meet your faculty” lunches
  • Dinners at faculty homes (to resume post-COVID)
  • And many more social events planned to resume, post-COVID!

Other Programmatic or Institutional Efforts

  • Wellness half-days (protected time away from clinical rotations)
  • Annual Resident Appreciation Day (day off for residents)
  • Educational workshops on self-compassion as a tool to reduce self-critical thoughts  
  • “Sharing Struggles” series, where faculty talk with residents about challenges they have faced in their careers or lives
  • “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
  • New psychiatry trainee lounges (coming soon!) on both the Duke University Hospital and Duke Regional Hospital campus


  • Free lunch at weekly resident conferences two to three times per week
  • 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 (currently closed due to COVID-19)
  • Duke Human Resources provides a number of additional wellness-related perks and benefits 

Committees, Interest Groups & Volunteering

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
  • Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences IDEAS Committee (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism and Sustainability) – coming soon!
  • Duke Graduate Medical Education (GME) Resident Council 

Special Interest Groups & Tracks

Other Opportunities

  • Volunteering at the Healthcare for the Homeless Mental Health Clinic
  • Psychiatry Residency Advocacy Day

A Week in the Life

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!