Residency Leadership

Susan Waller, M.D.

Susan Waller, M.D.

Residency Program Director

Susan Waller, M.D.

Susan Waller, M.D.

Residency Program Director

Department of Psychiatry

Associate Professor


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Bushra Shah, M.D.

Bushra Shah, M.D.

Associate Professor Associate Residency Program Director

Bushra Shah, M.D.

Bushra Shah, M.D.

Associate Professor Associate Residency Program Director

Department of Psychiatry

Adult Ambulatory Psychiatry
Residency Associate Director


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Jessica Drayton

Jessica Drayton

Senior Residency Education Coordinator

Jessica Drayton

Jessica Drayton

Senior Residency Education Coordinator

Department of Psychiatry


About the Program

The VCU Department of Psychiatry’s mission is to train tomorrow’s mental health professionals. Our comprehensive residency program balances brain science and therapeutic training with the knowledge and support to help our trainees achieve here and beyond.

We are proud to provide a uniquely challenging and supportive residency experience that offers the following:

  • A commitment to producing compassionate, adaptable physicians
  • A dedication to lifelong learning and teaching in the context of a rapidly changing health care environment
  • Strong, involved leaders who are always available to residents
  • A diverse patient population, including those with challenging psychiatric conditions and complex comorbidities
  • Camaraderie and collegiality, both inside and outside the hospital
  • Innovation in research, training and practice

Curriculum and Rotations

Our clinical education is structured to allow residents the flexibility to meet graduation requirements while also pursuing individual interests, with protected didactics and supervision time. In addition to intensive clinical supervision, a faculty coordinator is responsible for working with residents during each of the program’s four years to maximize the trainees’ learning experiences.


During the intern year, residents spend six months rotating off-service on internal medicine, emergency medicine and neurology. Residents with an interest in child and adolescent psychiatry may spend one to three blocks on pediatrics instead of internal medicine.

The other six months are spent on inpatient psychiatry at VCU Medical Center and the Richmond VA Medical Center (VAMC). VCU inpatient psychiatry rotations are split into specific teams, according to the patient’s presentation on admission. Those teams include mood disorders, schizophrenia, geriatrics and medical psychiatry.

Inpatient psychiatry (VCU): 3 blocks

Neurology: 2 blocks

Emergency medicine: 1 block

Internal medicine or pediatrics: 3 blocks

Inpatient psychiatry night float: 1 block

Inpatient psychiatry, substance abuse (VAMC): 3 blocks


Starting in PGY-2, residents learn the basics of supportive psychotherapy in a dedicated afternoon clinic at our outpatient facility. Second-year rotations consist of various psychiatry experiences, again in 13 four-week blocks. Residents continue to rotate through each VCU Medical Center inpatient team, so that they will have rotated through every team at least once by the end of PGY-2. Residents also rotate through each of the subspecialty rotations for a minimum of one four-week block. Residents may submit requests to tailor their schedules to their specific interests, with the potential for extra time on any given rotation.

Inpatient psychiatry, substance abuse (VAMC): 2-3 blocks

Subspecialty rotations (ECT, VTCC inpatient, adult consultation-liaison, day float): 5+ blocks

Inpatient psychiatry (VCU): 3-4 blocks

Emergency psychiatry night float: 1-1.5 blocks

VAMC night float: 1-1.5 blocks

Outpatient psychotherapy clinic: 4 hours per week


All PGY-3 rotations, with the exception of psychiatry consults in the emergency department, are completed on an outpatient basis, with each half-day representing a different clinic. The general psychiatry and psychotherapy clinics are longitudinal throughout the year, while the other clinics rotate every three to six months and include rotations at the Richmond VA Medical Center. The following is a sample schedule:

AM: General psychiatry
PM: Subspecialty

AM: Didactics
PM: Psychotherapy or subspecialty

AM: Emergency psychiatry
PM: Didactics

AM: Psychotherapy
PM: Child and adolescent psychiatry

AM: Psychotherapy and case conference
PM: Grand rounds, residents’ meeting, CBT lab, psychotherapy

Psychotherapy modalities expand to include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Family/couples therapy
  • Group therapy (optional)
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy
  • Psychotherapy combined with psychopharmacology
  • Supportive psychotherapy


The program’s fourth year is divided into three blocks and includes continual outpatient psychotherapy and a longitudinal semi-autonomous medication management clinic.

As senior residents on the consultation-liaison service, PGY-4s rotate at both VCU Medical Center and the VAMC. The community psychiatry rotation is through select local community service boards, which are Virginia’s resource for public mental health care, and at the VAMC. One month of the year is dedicated to an inpatient junior attending role.

Electives include:

Call Schedule, Moonlighting and Salary

Our three night float positions provide much of the on-call coverage for our VCU Medical Center inpatient and emergency psychiatry services and the VA Medical Center psychiatry service. Residents on night float work approximately 11-hour shifts for two to three four-week blocks.

Life in Richmond

We encourage our trainees to maintain a healthy, balanced life, and Richmond is a wonderful place to engage in that well-rounded lifestyle. As a mid-sized city with a metropolitan population of 1.3 million, Richmond provides stimulating activities while maintaining its intimate feel and unique vibe.

Learn more about our community

Research Track

Background: The overall goal of the psychiatry resident research track is to provide a pathway for psychiatrists in training that ultimately leads to a career in psychiatric research. The program provides mentorship and training in research that leads to accomplishments (training, publications, academic credentials) that make the research track resident an excellent candidate for the next step in a career in psychiatric research (training grants, academic appointments). 

Candidates: Medical students seeking a residency position at VCU with an active interest in a career in psychiatric research as evidenced by experience in research as an undergraduate student or medical student, preferably with presentations at scientific meetings and publications in peer-reviewed journals. Candidates will need to identify a faculty member who agrees to serve as a primary research mentor during their research track. 

Program: The research track training program offers an increased focus on research as the research track resident progresses through the program as shown in the table below. 

Research Track (click to enlarge):

Outcomes: The primary measure of success for the psychiatry research track will be education of a diverse group of residents in research who go on to have a successful career in psychiatric research. DEIA is an overall metric for the program as it is for VCU. Specific metrics include: 1) number of peer reviewed publications from research track residents; 2) number of presentations at scientific meetings by research track residents; 3) completion of master’s degree by research track residents; 4) number of training grants submitted by research track residents; 5) number of grants funded to research track residents; 6) number of residents who obtain a research faculty position at an academic institution. 

For more information, contact Dr. Susan Waller at

How to Apply

Starting in October 2023, we have added an Integrated Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fast-Track Program, NRMP# 1743400C2, starting with PGY-1 at the VCU General Psychiatry Program for those who are interested.

The VCU Department of Psychiatry participates in the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), and you can apply through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS).

Application requirements

  • Completed ERAS application
  • Minimum passing score on USMLE or COMLEX Steps 1 and 2
  • Medical student performance evaluation letter (formerly known as dean’s letter)
  • Official copy of your medical school transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation, including at least one from a supervising psychiatrist
  • Must be within four years of graduation from medical school or direct patient care activity
  • Must have documentation of a minimum of three moths of direct patient care activity in the U.S. or Canada in the last four years (clinical rotations during medical school are sufficient for U.S. and Canadian students)
  • For international medical graduates, U.S. or Canadian medical school clinical rotations or externships of direct patient care within the U.S. or Canada will suffice (clinical observer experiences and non-clinical graduate work such as research do not meet this requirement)


We offer interviews to select applicants from mid-October through January.

If you are selected for an interview, you will be contacted to schedule a date. The interview process includes an overview of the program, individual interviews with the program director, faculty and a resident, and interaction with with a group of residents. Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, interviews are being conducted virtually.

Contact us:

VCU Psychiatry Residency Administration 

Current Residents