October RFM Corner - Katharine Liang, M.D., P.H.D.

The psychiatry landscape is rapidly changing for all of us, and for those of us in training, it’s no different. As a chief resident at the UW Psychiatry Residency, one of the areas I have worked hard to address in a timely manner is adapting the educational needs of our residents to fit these rapidly changing times, namely addressing the Black Lives Matter movement in the setting of an academic psychiatric residency.

As the sociopolitical events unfolded, I looked to my colleagues at other institutions, often reaching out to experts at other institutions through social media, especially Twitter, to get advice about how to address these issues in my capacity as a chief resident. I looked to curricula focusing on structural racism that had been rapidly developed at other psychiatry residencies with a strong social justice focus, and along with other co-chiefs and co-residents, rapidly developed a curriculum for a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion journal club that is currently being implemented on our inpatient psychiatry rotations for first and second-year residents. Our curriculum brings us through a collection of works ranging from scholarly articles to popular media that follow a progression of themes including structural competency, examining the culture of psychiatry and medicine, intersectionality and the cultural formulation, racial bias in diagnosis, and discussion of systems-level issues and structural solutions.

As a resident representative to the WSPA EC, this project has dovetailed nicely with our discussion of legislative priorities. I hope this work and these issues will spark a renewed interest in advocacy among our residents and give us some agency during this time of political and social unrest.

About Dr. Liang

Dr. Liang graduated with a B.S. in Neurobiology with honors from the University of Washington. She attended The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for her MD/PhD, where she earned a PhD in Neurobiology. She currently serves as the Chief Resident for Research and Scholarship in the University of Washington Psychiatry Residency. 

Dr. Liang studies the interaction of stress and psychiatric illness. She is interested in the biological mechanisms of stress and resilience, including hormone signaling, gene regulation, and epigenetics. Her clinical interests include stress-related mental illness including PTSD, anxiety, and depression, as well the interaction of stress with all psychiatric illness.