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Meet Hannah Contreras, CUNY Medical Student and SHARE Learner

Silver Hill Hospital

October 17, 2023: This past month, the Silver Hill Hospital team has had the pleasure of working alongside our most recent SHARE [Silver Hill Academy for Research and Education] student, Hannah Contreras. Hannah, a 4th year medical student at City University of New York School of Medicine concentrating in psychiatry, spent four weeks working in the adolescent programs, both inpatient and residential.

Hannah is the 4th CUNY student to do a psychiatry rotation at Silver Hill this year —a collaborative program between SHARE and CUNY School of Medicine. The program is directed by Jeffrey Katzman, MD, Director of Education, and is one of several SHARE programs offered to students pursuing careers in psychiatry, psychology, and the mental health field.

“It’s been wonderful to have Hannah on board,” says Elizabeth Ortiz-Schwartz, MD, DFAPA, Attending Psychiatrist and Team Lead, Adolescent Inpatient Unit. “She has great sensitivity to our patients and a very insightful mind, and demeanor. It’s been a pleasure for the whole team.”

Meet Hannah Contreras

When did you decide to go to medical school?

Sophie Davis/CSOM is a combined 7-year BS/MD program, and so I actually decided that I would be going to medical school during my last year of high school. I spent all of high school thinking that I would be an engineer, however when I found out about Sophie Davis and its commitment to train physicians dedicated to providing health care for underserved communities, I immediately felt that I found my calling. Both of my parents grew up in poor communities in New York City, and I felt a strong desire to work within these neighborhoods and help people like my family.

When/how did you decide that you wanted to be a psychiatrist?

I decided that I wanted to be a psychiatrist just before my first year of medical school, after finishing the undergraduate portion of my school’s curriculum. I was considering leaving medicine and go back to pursuing civil engineering or teaching, but ultimately decided to stay because I discovered the field of psychiatry. I very much enjoy talking to people, learning about their stories, their childhood, their interests, and how they think, and psychiatry encapsulates these sentiments very well.

How have you been spending your time at Silver Hill Hospital? Do you have any insights or initial reactions to the work you are doing?

My time at SHH has been spent primarily in adolescent treatment programs and units. I spent my first week here in K-House, where I was able to see the value for patients in having 24/7 support from staff, daily DBT group classes, and the opportunity to practice working effectively with other peers in a residential environment. I am now in Main 3, the inpatient adolescent unit. I observe rounds in the mornings and in the afternoons, I participate in group activities with the patients — art therapy, process group, gym, psychodrama. It’s been a lot of fun so far and I’m lucky to have the opportunity to work with such dedicated, knowledgeable, and caring doctors, social workers, nurses, and supportive staff.

What are your plans after you finish up at Silver Hill Hospital?

SHH is unfortunately my last psychiatry rotation of medical school. I have four more rotations after this one — Anesthesiology, Medical Ethics, Cardiac ICU, and Emergency Medicine. I will also be undergoing interviews for residency programs and figuring out which hospital I will be training at next year!

What do you do in your free time – such as it is?

I enjoy going to museums in New York City, running, making jewelry for my friends, and going to the theatre to see plays and musicals. One very useful activity that I would like to improve my skills in (and eventually enjoy) is cooking, although I haven’t made much progress in that department yet.