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Department of Psychiatry

Residency Training Program

Residency Program Director:
Dr. Jordan Cohen

Residency Program Coordinator:
Pauline Burgess

Mailing Address:
1403 - 29 Street NW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 2T9

Tel: (403) 944-1271
Fax: (403) 270-3451

The Department of Psychiatry

The Residency Program in Psychiatry is administered by the Department of Psychiatry, University of Calgary. The Department has special expertise in the major syndromes of adult psychiatry, child psychiatry, substance abuse (addictions), forensic psychiatry, family therapy and community psychiatry. Fellowships are offered in child psychiatry, forensic psychiatry and early psychosis dependent on available funding.

Education is the prime function of the department. Faculty are involved in the teaching of our own psychiatric residents, undergraduates, family practice residents, interns, psychology interns and graduate students. This mixture of students provides a stimulating environment for residents, students and faculty.

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The Program

Psychiatric residency at the University of Calgary is a five year Royal College accredited program. It prepares physicians for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons examinations leading to certification in psychiatry - the basis for future practice. It prepares physicians for a career with a sound clinical and scientific basis, and with skills for ongoing acquisition of knowledge. The faculty seek to convey basic knowledge and the latest advances. A sound research basis helps students to think critically about research issues, and to carefully evaluate the literature.

Utilizing a combination of service and preceptor based models, the program allows for varied learning as well as fostering relationships with specific teachers as the resident is guided through the learning experience. The program size enables each student the personal attention he or she deserves, but is large enough for group cooperation with fellow students.

Teaching and service(s) are based at the Foothills Medical Centre, Peter Lougheed Centre, Rockyview General Hospital and Alberta Childrenís Hospital. In addition, strong connections are maintained with the Basic Medical Sciences at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine. As educational objectives have priority over service delivery, all clinical services are designed to function without residents, thus enabling an adequate and individualized approached for each resident.

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Foothills Medical Centre

This hospital has a full range of adult psychiatric services. There are 77 inpatient beds for acute admissions. An active Consultation Liaison Service provides training in the interface between psychiatry and other areas of medicine. Various age groups also have specific services. There is a Young Adult Service for adolescents and a Geriatric Psychiatry Service. The Psychiatric Assessment Service (PAS) provides a general outpatient base for the residents. Supervised assessments two to three times per week will be conducted and the remaining time will be spent in supervised follow-up of patients and other educational activities. Specialized clinics exist in crisis intervention, schizophrenia, substance abuse and affective disorders. As well, there is a large Day Patient Program for the treatment of patients not requiring full hospitalization. The Early Psychosis Treatment Service and PRIME (Prevention through Risk Identification Management and Education) are innovative models used within the Day Program. Each year there are approximately 1100 inpatient admissions while there are approximately 35,000 outpatient visits. The hospital is immediately adjacent to the medical school.

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Peter Lougheed Centre/Sunridge Medical Gallery

The Peter Lougheed Centre has a full range of adult psychiatric services. There are 98 inpatient beds including 5 psychogeriatric beds and an inpatient forensic unit of 20 beds. The Day Hospital Program at the Sunridge Medical Gallery has approximately 360 patients and an active research program in schizophrenia. Five services are provided: active rehabilitation, long-term support, medication clinic, follow-up clinic, and clozapine clinic.

There is a full Psychiatric Emergency Service with an emergency team and a psychiatric emergency director. A consultation liaison team with a psychiatrist, nurse clinician and social worker provide services to medical, surgical, and obstetrics and gynecology services. Inpatient units, including an innovative Short Stay Unit with a three-day maximum treatment/stay, provide continuity of care and a wide variety of clinical presentations. Patients are seen at all stages of their illness.

The Psychiatric Outpatient Service (POS), located at the Sunridge Medical Gallery, provides transition sources to patients from the inpatient and emergency units. This is done mainly through groups by a multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, a psychologist, social worker and nurses. The clinic as a whole assesses approximately 50 patients per month and has approximately 900 outpatient visits per month. In addition, there is a tertiary care centre for anxiety disorders with ongoing research.

In June 2005, inpatient forensic services moved from the Peter Lougheed Centre to the new Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre in northwest Calgary; Forensic Adult Outpatient Services (FAOS) and the Forensic Adolescent Program (FAP) have remained at the Peter Lougheed/Sunridge site.

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Alberta Children's Hospital

The Alberta Children's Hospital has a well established Child Psychiatry Department. There are inpatient services with nine beds and outpatient services for assessment and treatment of children of all ages. In addition, there is active involvement in the child abuse program and in related child and adolescent services throughout the city, including the Adolescent Day Treatment Program and the Eating Disorders Program. Mental health services will continue to be provided at the old Children's Hospital, renamed Richmond Road Diagnostic Treatment Centre, as well as the new site, which opened in September 2006.

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Rockyview General Hospital

The majority of the PGY-1 year is based at the Rockyview General Hospital with the exception of Neurology, Pediatrics and Family Medicine. Psychogeriatric residency training is centered at the Rockyview General Hospital where both inpatients and outpatients are seen. Currently, there are 20 psychogeriatric beds, 50 acute care beds for Psychiatry and the Day Hospital Program has 30 alternative spaces for hospital beds. Consultation Liaison Services are in place. Inpatient Psychiatry rotations are also available.

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Additional Sites

It is possible for senior residents to arrange elective experiences in the Family Therapy Program at the University of Calgary. In addition, small centre psychiatry options are available for senior residents.

In June 2005, the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre opened its doors in the northwest quadrant of the city.

Quick Facts:

  • There are opportunities for inter-provincial and international electives while training in the program.

  • There are no mandatory rotations.

  • The ratio of residents to faculty is 1:1 to 1:2.

  • The average patient load is highly variable depending on the rotation and the resident level. On average, a resident might carry 3-5 patients on an inpatient rotation. On an outpatient rotation, a junior might average 10 patients, while a senior might average 30.

  • We provide residents with access to electronic medical resources.

  • See Academic Project for more detailed research requirements.

Psychotherapy Resource Library

The Psychotherapy Resource Library is available to residents and clinical staff. Resources include DVDs, videotapes and books on various training areas: cognitive behaviour therapy, family therapy, group therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, wellness and other related topics.

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Program Description


This is a rotating internship year with a minimum of 8 months rotating through specialty areas outside of Psychiatry. Time will be available for electives.

The PGY-1 rotation occurs at the Rockyview General Hospital, with the exception of Family Medicine at the South Calgary Medical Clinic, Neurology which occurs at the Foothills Medical Centre, and Pediatrics which occurs at the Alberta Childrenís Hospital. Psychiatry rotations occur at the Foothills Medical Centre, Peter Lougheed Centre and Rockyview General Hospital. All PGY-1 psychiatry residents have each Thursday afternoon as protected academic time at the Foothills Medical Centre where there is a seminar series just for them.

  • Family Medicine - 4 weeks

  • Psychiatry - 8 weeks

  • Medicine - 16 weeks

  • Emergency Psychiatry - 4 weeks

  • Pediatrics - 4 weeks

  • Neurology - 8 weeks

  • Emergency Medicine - 4 weeks

  • Elective - 4 weeks

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PGY-2 - Inpatient Psychiatry

PGY-2 begins with six months of Inpatients, followed by either Child and Adolescent (six months) or three months each of Consultation Liaison and Psychogeriatrics. The goal of the first six months year is for the resident to become familiar with basic interviewing, diagnosis and treatment options for the major psychiatric disorders.

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Balance of PGY-2, -3 and -4

Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

This rotation is split by doing 3 months child psychiatry at the Alberta Childrenís Hospital and 3 months adolescent psychiatry at the Foothills Medical Centre in the Young Adult Program. However, if a resident has chosen Child and Adolescent Psychiatry as their career path, they may then do 6 months child psychiatry and 6 months adolescent psychiatry. The emphasis is on understanding childhood disorders in the context of the childís development, family and social system. As well, the resident will acquire skills with individual and family assessments, interviewing and treatment approaches. Residents will attend clinics dealing with Mood Disorders, Psychosis, Eating Disorders and Addictions during their adolescent psychiatry portion.

Outpatient Psychiatry

In this 6 month rotation, the resident begins to develop skills in the assessment and treatment of major disorders in an outpatient setting, learning the use of both psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy.

Rehabilitative Psychiatry

In this 6 month rotation, the resident will participate in a Day Hospital and Ambulatory Clinic Program caring for people with long standing disorders such as schizophrenia. The emphasis is on rehabilitative techniques, individual and family assessments, as well as a knowledge of community resources which are crucial components of this experience. Training is available at the Central Community Mental Health Centre or one of the teaching hospitals.

Consultation Liaison Psychiatry

During this 3 month experience, the resident joins a consultation liaison team, providing consultation to other physicians and mental health professionals. It is a chance to work with physically ill patients. Learning about emotional reactions to illness and the association of mental and physical factors in illness are emphasized.


This is a 3 month rotation in which the resident learns about aging and the special problems of assessing and treating the elderly. The philosophy of the clinical approach is one of active and humane interventions for elderly persons. Hospital and community liaison aspects are equally emphasized in 6 week portions.

The remaining six months of PGY-4 give the resident an opportunity to pursue elective rotations.

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During the residentís last year of psychiatry, the resident is able to complete their above mentioned core rotations and/or do electives in their area of interest in Psychiatry.

Click on the link below for more information about the mandatory rotations and some electives currently available within our program, with particular reference to educational objectives in the CanMEDS format, evaluation, clinical facilities and faculty:

The Blue Book of Rotations

Psychotherapy Training

Clinical psychotherapy training is included in core rotations with dedicated time of one half day per week. Training begins with four months of skill building sessions with psychiatrists and psychologists specially trained in psychotherapy. Following this, residents will be supervised in four different modalities. Family Therapy supervision occurs during the Child and Adolescent rotation. Group Therapy occurs during the Consultation Liaison and Psychogeriatric rotations. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy will be generally tied to the Outpatient rotation. Residents will all be expected to participate in psychodynamic training for a minimum of one year. Electives in any of these modalities and additional training in Interpersonal Therapy are available. A dedicated Postgraduate Director for Psychotherapy training, Dr. Janet de Groot, was appointed in April 2006 to oversee all aspects of psychotherapy training in residency.

During the formal seminar series, three months are devoted to the teaching of the psychotherapies. In addition to the required psychotherapy supervision, residents can choose to train more intensively in psychotherapy.

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The program holds a half day protected time throughout the residency for formal seminars or self-directed learning. There is an introductory block of seminars and academic case discussions for the PGY-1ís. They will comprise of units on clinical skills, essential knowledge that is needed early on (such as Emergency Psychiatry and Safety issues) and Psychiatry in the General Hospital setting.

The PGY-2ís and PGY-3's have joint seminars, which can be credited towards a Master's Degree. The focus is a core curriculum of psychiatric disorders. PGY-4 and PGY-5 seminars are coordinated by the senior residents.

In addition, Grand Rounds are held every Friday morning and videoconferenced to all the teaching hospitals, which also have a very active rounds program with extensive visiting lecturer involvement.

Practice oral examinations are held twice a year.

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Academic Project

With the assistance of the Residency Research Director, residents are provided with a research mentor in their junior years. It is expected that at some time during the five year program, the resident will complete an academic project that would be suitable for submission to a peer review process. The project can be a research project or it might be a project related to a critical appraisal of the literature or an interesting case report with accompanying literature. The residents are encouraged to present their project at provincial or national meetings and at the departmental research day (Littmann Research Day), which is held every spring. Here, residents and faculty present their academic and research interests. Residents have been active participants in these highly successful events. Prizes are awarded for the Best Resident Research Project and Most Innovative Resident Research.

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Selection Criteria

  • Sincere interest in psychiatry
  • Reference letters from preceptors in the field of psychiatry are preferred

  • An acceptable academic record which demonstrates special proficiency in those subjects related to the specialty
  • Candidates should demonstrate an interest in the specialty. This may be described in the personal letter.
  • Willingness to contribute and enhance the residency program experience

  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Maturity, empathy, sensitivity

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