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Residency Selection Process

Department of Psychiatry

Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University

Constantine Ioannou, M.D., Training Director

Alexis Parez, Residency Coordinator

September 28, 2010



The University Hospital Graduate Medical Education programs share common criteria and processes for the recruitment and selection of residency training candidates. A selection committee exists within each residency program and consists of, at a minimum, the program director, and a faculty member. Additional members are included at the discretion of the residency director. This committee reviews all applicants and is responsible for selection of applicants for interview, participation in the interview process and the final choice of applicants to be ranked in the NRMP match or offered contracts independent of the match when this option is allowed.


The University Hospital programs require that all residency applicants meet uniform eligibility standards, detailed below. In addition, each training program, as set forth in their program requirements, may have additional requirements to be met for an application to be considered. The application process meets all requirements of the Equal Employment Opportunity and the Americans with Disability Act, in ensuring that all qualified applicants are afforded a review without discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, color, national origin, disability or veteran status.

Minimum requirements:

General and minimum requirements for eligibility for consideration for a training program at University Hospital are:

  1. A graduate of a United States or Canadian Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accredited medical school, OR
  2. A graduate of an American or Canadian Osteopathic Association accredited medical school OR
  3. A graduate of a medical school outside of the United States who meets one of the following qualifications:
    1. Holds a current valid certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)
    2. Holds a full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States licensing jurisdiction, or a limited permit OR
  4. A graduate of a medical school outside the United States who has successfully completed a Fifth Pathway program provided by an LCME-accredited medical school.
  5. A US citizen, permanent resident, or a person with a visa with authorization to train in the US during the term of the appointment.

The program director/Medical Staff Office is responsible for verification of the applicants' credentials.

Primary verification of all credentials is required.

The following documentation, at a minimum is required for a residency program at University Hospital:

  1. Certification of graduation from any accredited medical school or ECFMG certified medical institution. This documentation must originate from the academic institution granting the degree and have the proper seal of the institution;
  2. Letters of recommendation;
  3. Documentation accounting for any lapses between the end of medical school and the present. Large gaps of time exceeding 1 month that are not verifiable will disqualify candidates for consideration for a GME program;
  4. Proper documentation of employment and/or work performed since graduation from medical school. The standard for proper documentation will be imposed by the GME program;
  5. USMLE or COMLEX board scores demonstrating successful completion by the end of 2 attempts;
  6. Passing a criminal background check.

Applicants who do not meet the above criteria can not be considered for any graduate medical educational programs at Stony Brook University Hospital. Applicants who meet the criteria are eligible for consideration but are not automatically accepted. They are eligible to proceed through the admissions process

The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science of the School of Medicine at Stony Brook University seeks outstanding physicians who wish to pursue specialty training in Psychiatric Medicine. Applications for PG1 one positions must be made via ERAS. All positions are filled through the NRMP Match Program and no pre-Match offers are made. This Department is strongly committed to the concept of selecting residents through the Match and we strive to abide by all of the rules promulgated by the NRMP. This Training Program will make no attempt to coerce or influence an applicant’s choice of program, other than by attempting to present this program in the most favorable way.


Elements of the Selection Process

  • Applications are submitted via ERAS.
  • A limited number of applicants (approximately 50 – 60) are selected by the Selection Committee (Drs. Ioannou and Taglienti) and invited to interview at Stony Brook. Applicants will be notified of their selection by e-mailand they will contact Ms. Parez to set up an interview date.
  • Applicants will be interviewed by at least three faculty members. They will also meet with the Chief Resident (or a senior resident) and other residents if available. Applicants will be given lunch and a tour of the facilities and will be given an opportunity to have all questions answered. Applicants will be given a copy of the Resident Contract as well as the projected salary. If there is a mutual interest, selected applicants may return for another look at the program (or for further interviews).
  • Applicants are reviewed by the Residency Training Committee on a regular basis during the pre-Match period. Meetings may be increased in frequency in order to accomplish this goal.
  • A Match List is generated and submitted to the NRMP in early to mid-February.
  • Following the release of the Match Results, successful applicants are contacted and congratulated. In the event that all positions are not filled, the program will participate in the post-Match “Scramble” until the positions are filled.

Applicants to this program should have the following qualities:

  • High Intelligence
  • Excellence in both written and verbal self-expression
  • Superior ability to understand both verbal and non-verbal communications from others
  • Exceptional curiosity about the human mind and human behavior
  • Psychological mindedness

The selection committee will attempt a preliminary assessment of these qualities prior to offering an interview to the candidate. It should be apparent that some of these qualities can only be assessed in a preliminary fashion prior to the interview itself.

High Intelligence

              Excellence in psychiatry requires both the ability to grasp complicated concepts, both biological and psychological, as well as the capacity for and enjoyment of abstract thinking. Intelligence levels may be evaluated by such indirect measures as 1) post-secondary education, 2) evaluation of interests, hobbies, research participation, 3) academic performance in medical school, 4) performance on standardized examinations and 5) letters of recommendation

              Applicants with multiple failures in the basic or clinical sciences or on the USMLE examinations will not be invited for interviews.

Written and Verbal Communication

              Writing skills are an essential component of medical record keeping, particularly in psychiatry. These skills are also invaluable for the would-be researcher. The Selection Committee will evaluate the preparation of the application and in particular the Personal Statement for evidence of writing skills. Other evidence of an ability to write well may be reflected by assessing the applicant’s undergraduate education, record of writing and publication, etc.

              Applicants with poorly written essays, e.g., multiple spelling and grammatical errors will not be invited for an interview.

              The ability to express oneself in a succinct manner so that patients, colleagues and others can understand is an important quality in a physician, especially a psychiatrist. While this quality may not be subject to assessment until the personal interview, clues may be gleaned from telephone interactions and letters of recommendation.


              While clues to these skills may be assessed by the applicant’s ability to follow instructions prior to the interview and via letters of recommendation, the interview process will furnish the best evidence of an applicant’s ability to comprehend verbal communication. At this time, we do not measure the applicant’s ability to comprehend written information, although academic performance is one measure of this.

Curiosity About Human Behavior

              The candidate for specialty or sub-specialty training should have an intrinsic or acquired interest and curiosity about normal and abnormal functional aspects of a particular part of the body. This is particularly true in psychiatry where great strides are being made in neuroscience, cognitive psychology, pharmacology, and psychotherapy – a basic intellectual curiosity about these matters seems essential in maintaining one’s level of clinical energy and enthusiasm in a subspecialty with little to guide one’s professional judgment other than experience informed by current knowledge. We will look for evidence of long-standing and/or genuine interest in psychology, neuroscience or psychiatry on the part of the applicant. Significant experiences in medical school, choice of undergraduate studies, and outside interests may be valuable clues in assessing this quality.

Psychological Mindedness

              This is a difficult concept to assess, and perhaps there is some controversy in even thinking about this as a criterion for assessing applicants. This concept is taken to mean an individual’s ability 1) to express feelings in words, 2) to search for relationships between thoughts, feelings and experiences, 3) to “believe” in and to be willing to explore the unconscious mind, 4) to verbalize uncomfortable thoughts, 5) to view all thoughts and feelings as potentially significant and understandable.

              Clues to this ability may be assessed by analyzing the applicant’s essay, letters of recommendation and through direct questioning.

Suggested Questions for Applicants

  • What is it about psychiatry that interests you?
  • What areas of biological psychiatry are of particular interest to you?
  • What areas of psychological psychiatry are of particular interest to you?
  • What role do you think psychiatrists should play in the overall health care system?
  • What role do you think psychiatrists should play in trying to influence social issues?
  • What are your thoughts about the role that psychologists and social workers should play in the care of those with mental illnesses?
  • What thoughts do you have about requiring psychiatric patients to take their medication?
  • Do you have a philosophy about suicide?  What should the psychiatrist’s responsibility be for preventing suicide?
  • What hobbies do you have?
  • What books have you recently read?
  • What do you think the role of pharmaceutical companies should be in the education of psychiatrists about medications?
  • What are the reasons that you decided to apply to this residency program?
  • What is important to you in life?
  • What do you expect to be doing as a psychiatrist?
  • What do you think the hardest thing about being a psychiatrist is?
  • Have you heard the term “psychological mindedness?” What does that mean to you? Are you psychologically minded? How do you know?
  • What did you study as an undergraduate? Did you take psychology courses? Did you take courses that have furthered your insight into the human condition?
  • In what ways did you grow as an undergraduate student? In what ways did you grow (or not grow) as a medical student?
  • Were there any experiences in medical school that you found particularly meaningful?
  • What do you think the role of psychotherapy is in psychiatric practice today?
  • Have you ever attended a meeting or a conference where food was provided by a drug company? What do you think about that?
  • What has proven to be the most effective method for learning for you?
  • What book is on your nightstand?
  • What are your hobbies? Tell me more about them?
  • Tell me a little bit about your family. Are they supportive of your decision to become a psychiatrist?