When first-year psychiatry resident Tolu Odebunmi, MBBS, MPH, realized there wasn’t really any online space for psychiatry residents or trainees to “talk about stuff, meet each other,” she reached out to fellow resident, Christina Warner, MD. “I asked her, ‘What do you think about having a psychiatry chat page on Twitter for residents, fellows and medical students who may want to go into psychiatry?’” Warner’s instant response was, “Let’s do it.”

Tolu Odebunmi, MBBS, MPH

Odebunmi (pictured at left) and Warner reached out to psychiatry residents, Akshaya Selvamani, at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, Atasha Jordan, at the University of Pennsylvania, and Michael McClurkin, at Yale University, to help them create the new online community. They also give U of M Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Associate Professor Katharine (Kaz) Nelson, MD, credit for inspiring them. “She co-hosts the psychiatry chat on Twitter, so we owe her a lot,” said Warner.

Why do this? “Other than attending a national conference, we really don’t have the means to understand what’s going on in other programs or to interact with other residents at this stage of training,” explained Warner. “It’s a great environment for networking,” added Odebunmi. “It’s been a nice way to connect with people.”

Christina Warner, MD

Warner (pictured at left) agreed, noting, “We’ve also had a lot of engagement with folks who aren’t medically trained or who are from allied mental health professions. That has been fruitful for the conversation and is inspiring us to broaden our scope to include that interdisciplinary perspective.”

PsychResChat officially launched in August 2019. Open to everyone, chats are typically held every two weeks, beginning at 7 pm Central time (the first one in 2020 was scheduled for January 16). Interested parties can follow the Twitter account (@psychreschat) or just search #psychreschat for topics that have been discussed. “Our presence on Twitter has been very rewarding and fun,” said Odebunmi. “We would like to encourage you to join the world of #PsychTwitter and while you are at it, we would love to engage with you on #PsychResChat.”

The core team meets on opposite weeks to pick the topics, which come from their personal experiences on the wards and as residents. “Every now and then, we’ll tie a topic to something in the news,” said Warner. The pipeline, according to Jordan (who wrote about the new chat platform in in-House, the online agora for medical residents and fellows), has included, “chats on choosing a job after residency, the role of in-service exams, keeping up-to-date with literature, resident wellness and so much more.”

Response to @PsychResChat has been good so far; the team surpassed their follower goal within four months. They’re finding that it’s created, “An awesome opportunity to interact with program directors and residents from throughout the world,” Warner said.