Meet Dr. Sanjay Chandragiri, Program Director of our Psychiatry Residency

Dr. Chandragiri has practiced in Northeast Pennsylvania for nearly 20 years and he is dedicated to meeting the needs of the region. He aims to shape the new program into an innovative residency experience with an emphasis on community-based care.

M.B.B.S and Psychiatry Residency—Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore University, India
Psychiatry Residency—State University of New York at Stony Brook

What inspired you to practice medicine? Why did you chose to specialize in Psychiatry? There was not one particular thing; I grew up with medicine around me and was always interested in biology and science, so it seemed like a natural fit. For a long time, I thought I would be an internist. However, the more I read about Psychiatry, the more I became interested. The more I learned about the field, the more I felt most comfortable with it and eventually decided to switch my focus.

As you originally studied in India, what led you to the Scranton area? I actually did my residency twice. I completed three years in India and immediately started in US as a medical resident. I was in residency from 1991-1998. When I finished in the US, I needed to be in a medically underserved area and began to practice in Carbondale. I was only required to stay for three years, but I liked the area. I have been practicing in Northeast Pennsylvania since 1998.

What responsibilities will you have in your new role as The Wright Center’s Psychiatry Residency Program Director? In addition to clinical responsibilities, I supervise and teach residents. I am also responsible for making sure the program becomes fully accredited through the ACGME, assessing milestones for residents and making sure they learn the skills they need to practice.

What are you most excited about in stepping into your new role? I’m excited because it is a new program; it’s always more exciting to build something up from scratch and shape it to be ideal, rather than stepping into an already established program where it is difficult to change.

What do you believe will be the most challenging aspect of your new role? Because it is a new program, it will be challenging to build resources (e.g. faculty) and make sure that the training is up to par. Additionally, we must design new curriculum to fit the program’s needs.

What are your goals for the Psychiatry program–both for its first year and long-term? In the first year, I’d like to make sure everything runs smoothly, and make sure we get full accreditation. Long term, I’m planning to innovate many things, including integrative care through all four years.  I want this to be a truly innovative program and get recognized for being one.

When we say that our Psychiatry Residency is “community-based” what does that actually mean? Our residents will be working in a community mental health center, rather than just a teaching hospital/center. This provides the residents with the opportunity to deliver direct, “in the trenches” care. They’ll also be working with a lot of patients who would be otherwise underserved.

In what other learning environments, aside from Scranton Counseling Center, will the residents train? The residents will spend a large part of two years in Geisinger Community Medical Center (CMC). Additional learning environments include the VA Medical Center and The Wright Center for Primary Care Mid Valley. We are looking to add some other places in the future.

How does the training of a Psychiatrist differ from the training that The Wright Center currently offers? The Wright Center already offers Internal Medicine, Family Medicine and Cardiology. All residency training is similar, but there are a few key differences. Unlike the Internal and Family Medicine programs, this is a four-year residency. We also have an entire year of training in full-time, community-based outpatient care.

Do Psychiatrists only serve the Seriously Mentally Ill population? No. Although individuals with Serious Mental Illness will need the most care and expertise, Psychiatrists also serve those who may need consultation and who can be managed by primary care physicians.

What can the Northeast Pennsylvania community expect to see as a result of bringing a Psychiatry Residency program locally? My hope is that the acute shortage of psychiatrists will be relieved in the region to a certain extent.

Any advice you would give to someone contemplating possibly becoming a behavioral healthcare professional? If you’re a medical student, be prepared for competition! You must plan your career because Psychiatry has become extremely competitive in the past five years — more than it ever was. I would also suggest that you make sure you get enough clinical experience.

Family: My wife, Suparna, works at the Howard-Gardner Charter School. I have two sons, both of whom are in pre-med programs in college. Shreyas studies biomedical engineering at Temple University, and Sahas studies pre-med and plays Division 2 tennis at the University of the Sciences.

Favorite part of Northeast PA: I do enjoy the summer—but not the winter!

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