Kristina Cieslak

It’s hard to believe that I’m entering my fourth and last year of residency. The past three years have truly been amazing, as I’ve had the privilege to stand beside patients from every walk of life through their most vulnerable moments and have had some life-changing moments of my own. My residency classmates have become a second family, and Boston has become home.

Clinically, I have long found myself drawn towards working with and learning from those with serious mental illness (SMI). Early on in medical training, this group proved to be the most challenging, yet clinically rewarding population with whom I interfaced, and I was struck by the health disparities and unique roadblocks many navigated daily. I feel there is a pressing need to address the staggering morbidity and mortality related to modifiable health behaviors in this population, and to discover ways to better implement quality and evidence-based care. Throughout residency, my efforts in this regard have focused on diabetes management, medical-psychiatric integration, smoking cessation, and patient and provider education.

I was thrilled to be selected as the Community and Public Psychiatry Chief Resident this year as I further my development in education and leadership. I will deliver lectures to all residency levels centered around the public mental health system and health issues relating to individuals with SMI, and hope to inspire others with my passion for the work and population. My day-to-day is a full week of patient care, didactics, and research. Clinically, I have a personal panel at MGH, a personal panel of patients with chronic psychotic disorders at the Erich Lindemann Mental Health Center, a panel of patients through the clozapine clinic, a panel with the MGH First Episode Psychosis Program, and I lead three groups: one for individuals with schizophrenia and diabetes, a dynamic process group for individuals with psychotic disorders, and a process group for homeless individuals in the transitional shelter system.

The Research Concentration Program (RCP) and Clinician Educator Program (CEP) have been invaluable resources throughout residency, helping me to develop not only skills and expertise in each area, but also developing a sense of purpose that will springboard me into my future career. To be an impetus for change in treatment of and for this important group, I will pursue a career as a clinician-scientist and educator. Clinically, I will work to discover where we as practitioners can do better, and to hear the unique stories that each patient brings. I hope in parallel to become an independent investigator, to design and implement projects that aim to turn the tide of the morbidity and 30-year mortality gap between those with SMI and the general population, and concurrently to impart this knowledge effectively to other providers, trainees, patients, and the communities at large that we serve. Though excited for the next steps, I will certainly be sad to see residency come to a close!