Program FAQs

What is the training in psychotherapy?

Our fellows are exposed to lectures, supervision and clinical exposure to psychotherapy training. In the first year of fellowship, fellows typically take on one or two psychotherapy cases that they can see through the second year of fellowship.

Lectures introduce the fellows to the evidence based psychotherapies including applied Behavioral Analysis, CBT, DBT, Family Therapy, Parent Child Interactive Therapy, and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.

Long term supervisors for first and second year fellows come from a wealth of backgrounds and practice a variety of modes of psychotherapy. 

What support does the psychiatric hospital have from medical specialties?

At Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital (VPH), pediatricians are present each weekday to provide consultation.  They are available to attend interdisciplinary treatment team rounds for medically complicated patients.  In addition, multiple medical sub-specialties from Vanderbilt University Medical Center are available for consultation.  VPH is a BLS-capable facility, and in the event of a medical emergency, psychiatry residents and fellows are expected to assess the situation.  Emergency providers from the nearby Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital Emergency Department are called for medical code situations.

What do fellows at Vanderbilt do after graduation?

Each class of fellows at Vanderbilt has a variety of interests and that is reflected in their choice of positions directly after residency.  Fellows go into a multitude of jobs and fellowships that vary from year-to-year, including academic faculty positions, research, private practice, and community work from Florida to Alaska and everywhere in between! 

As an example, in the last two years we have graduated eight fellows.  Of those, two are on faculty (Vanderbilt), two work for mental health agencies (Nashville and DC area), one is in fellowship (Psychosomatic Medicine), one is in private practice (Nashville) and two work for private hospitals or medical groups (Nashville and Denver area). 

Where do fellows live?

Nashville has a great variety of wonderful neighborhoods. For fellows who value being close to the hospital, there are nice places to lease or buy within a few blocks. Fellows may also choose to live further away, in a more rural area. The neighborhoods around Nashville all have unique characteristics, from Sylvan Park to Germantown or East Nashville.  Typical commutes range from walking a few minutes to driving up to thirty minutes for those who live further away. For more information about the specific neighborhoods, please see the Vanderbilt Housestaff Alliance Newcomers Guide:


What is parking like at Vanderbilt?

Parking is very accessible at the South Garage directly across the street from Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital.  Parking permits are provided at no cost to the fellows.

Is Vanderbilt a “biological” program?

Our program strives for exposure to all areas of psychiatry (including psychotherapy, psychopharmacology and neuroscience).  The former is illustrated by the psychotherapy clinics and didactics.   Our biological curriculum is very comprehensive and targets major principles of diagnosis, fundamentals as well as advanced concepts of psychopharmacology, and neuroscience as it pertains to psychopathology.  

What opportunities are there for fellows to get involved in research?

Fellows can team up with faculty mentors to create unique research opportunities. In the last five years, fellows have worked on research in autism spectrum disorders, delirium, psychosis, student mental health, systems-based trends, and administrative outcomes research.
Also, you may ask, "What if I don't want to make research my career but want to get some experience?" We hold several research meetings each year to introduce active research faculty to trainees in order to foster exposure to ongoing work as well as opportunities for involvement in research projects.  Such involvement can take place as electives for at least one-half day per week (such as during CAP2). 

What opportunities are there for fellows to get involved in teaching?

Fellows across all years of training have a variety of teaching opportunities. This begins with supervisory roles to Vanderbilt Medical Students (VMS) as first year fellows, and extends to 2nd year with supervisory roles over junior residents along with medical students. We encourage peer-to-peer learning environments at Vanderbilt, and our fellows have the opportunity to teach each other concepts of major psychiatric topics during our conferences and didactic sessions. In addition to this, fellows have optional teaching roles in formal didactics for VMS, teaching other trainees in our Residents As Teachers series, as well as additional teaching electives that are created to suit the interest of the particular trainee. Our fellows have been recognized for their teaching efforts through receipt of Vanderbilt Medical Center and national teaching awards. Under the leadership of Dr. Meg Benningfield, our fellowship offers a clinical scholarship class that focuses on developing teaching skills focused on an area of interest for each fellow.

What is the call like at Vanderbilt?

During both years, Child Fellows share night time call from home to support psychiatry residents by phone when needed.

On the weekends, fellows come to the hospital to see new consults and new admissions to the inpatient unit, averaging eight weekends per year for first years and five weekends a year for second years..

What are the didactics like at Vanderbilt? 

Each year for both classes there is an afternoon of seminars taught by various faculty members including psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and researchers. Trainees have protected time during these lectures where they are expected to roll their pagers to covering trainees or faculty members.

Are fellows sufficiently prepared for the ABPN board examination?

In addition to the structured biomedical and psychotherapy curriculum that span from the years of fellowship, we offer yearly administration of the PRITE exam to all our trainees.  This ensures that our fellows have exposure to boards-style questions and can identify areas of strength and weakness to target in their study. Fellows from the past several years have had 100% board pass rates.

Application-Specific FAQs

Do you sponsor visas for IMG's?

We have sponsored both J-1 and H1-B visas over the last several years.

If I failed one of my Steps will you still consider my application if I passed on my second attempt?

In general, we do not offer interview invitations to applicants who have failed any component of the USMLE or COMLEX.  The only exceptions are when the exam score is a single anomaly on an otherwise impeccable academic and clinical performance, and when there is a compelling explanation for the failure.

Do you accept Externships or Observerships?

We do not accept observerships.  Externships are coordinated through the medical school’s office of visiting students (https://medschool.vanderbilt.edu/md-admissions/visiting-medical-students) and are not coordinated with or a component of the fellowship program.

What needs to be included in my application?

The standard ERAS application covers all the necessary components.  A compelling personal narrative for choosing child and adolescent psychiatry and a history of leadership, service, research, and strong clinical and academic skills are all positive factors in the application.

When is the deadline for my application to be considered?

There is no strict deadline for applications but applicants who apply late are at a relative disadvantage because those applications that are completed early will receive priority for reviews and invitations to interview. There are a fixed number of interview slots so late applicants will likely receive wait list status at best.

How many people apply to your program?

We anticipate about 50 applications each year.

If I haven’t heard back about an interview, but I am very interested in Vanderbilt, should I contact you directly?

Applicants who are very interested in pursuing residency at Vanderbilt are welcome to contact us. We employ a range of strategies for reviewing and inviting applicants.

Do I need to pass Step 3 before applying?

Applicants must pass Step 3 before the ranking deadline.

Do I need to have completed all of my Clinical Skills Verification exams to apply?

It is not required to have all three completed at the time of the application, but it is desirable for you to have plans to complete three exams before starting our fellowship.

Do you have a cutoff for USMLE Steps 1&2 scores or COMLEX Level 1 and 2 when accepting applications?

We do not have a fixed cutoff, but look at the entire application to assess for best match for our program.