<< Back

Psychiatric Residency Program Seeks to Reach Rural Pockets of the State

February 03, 2021

In an attempt to bring specialty mental health care closer to home for patients and make a dent in a national shortage of psychiatrists, the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network has launched a new training program for medical school graduates.

Called the Rural Psychiatric Residency Program, the program is expected to launch in July 2023 at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital (CHH) in the northwest corner of Connecticut, according to Andre Newfield, MD, chair of psychiatry at St. Vincent’s Medical Center (SVMC), part of Hartford HealthCare.

The four-year residency program, which will be one of just three in the state, will be open to four new medical school graduates, enrolling four each year for an eventual total of 16 residents.

“These are people committed to becoming psychiatrists and, hopefully, interested in some form of rural practice as well as an interested in practicing in Connecticut thereafter,” Dr. Newfield explained, noting that rural residency programs in any specialty are rare, but especially in psychiatry. “As the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates, it is imperative to reach patients where they are when they cannot get to a psychiatrist’s office because of driving distance or other circumstances.”

CHH will be the primary training site for the program and where residents will work in an outpatient psychiatric setting in their third and fourth years of training. In the program’s first and second years, residents will receive training in inpatient, emergency and consultation psychiatry, as well as neurology, at SVMC.

This will be the second psychiatry residency program at Hartford HealthCare, which offers one at the Institute of Living, part of the Behavioral Health Network.

“This is a major step. Residency training is the culmination of a department’s efforts to pass the field’s best knowledge and practices onto the next generation of psychiatrists,” Dr. Newfield said. “In this case, rather than originating with just one department, it is an effort by almost all components of the Behavioral Health Network.”

In addition to providing key training to new practitioners, participating in the residency program also helps the psychiatrists scrutinize their practice and raise it to a higher standard, he continued.

“Nationwide and regional staffing concerns in the field of psychiatry will benefit from the contribution of additional psychiatrists trained to the field’s highest standards,” he said.

A national search for a program director is underway. Dr. Newfield said they are looking for “a psychiatrist who is well seasoned clinically but who also has ample teaching and managerial postgraduate experience and will help create the program.” The residency program is sponsored academically by the Frank H. Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University and the selected program director will report to medical school officer as well as Dr. Newfield.

“Being able to create and maintain the Rural Psychiatry Residency Program at CHH will further demonstrate the strengths of this organization, both academically and clinically,” Dr. Newfield said.