Behavioral Health Residents

Bill Schmitt

Senior Communications Manager
Department of External Affairs

Christiana Care Adds Psychiatry Residency Program to help meet behavioral health needs in our community

The program will take four new residents each year for a total of 16

Wilmington, Delaware, Nov. 15 2018 — When Sana Sharma, M.D., interviewed to be one of Christiana Care Health System’s first psychiatry residents, she felt instantly at home. “I knew that this was my program,” she said.

Dr. Sharma, who is from Amritsar, India, liked the staff and the location of the program in Wilmington, Delaware, which is just outside of Philadelphia. It’s convenient to airports, interstates and train stations.

But she particularly liked the accessible, approachable faculty and the high faculty-to-residents ratio. “They’re trained in different settings and have different backgrounds,” she said of her instructors. “They bring excellent experiences to their residents.”

Dr. Sharma and three other doctors started the four-year psychiatry residency in July 2018. While new to Christiana Care, it is not the health care system’s first residency. Christiana Care has more than 100 years of experience in post-graduate medical education, and there are 15 other residencies.

The new program, which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, meets a pressing need.

“The demand for services — both in Delaware and across the United States — far exceeds the supply of psychiatry physicians, particularly given the rise in addiction and the aging population,” said Linda J. Lang, MD, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and medical director of the Behavioral Health Service Line at Christiana Care Health System.

According to a 2017 report published by the National Council for Behavioral Health, there is a 6.4 percent shortage in the psychiatry workforce. Based on estimates of retirement and new entries into the workforce, the unmet need could soar to 12 percent by 2025.

“Given the need and our expanding psychiatric service line, we felt it was time to add a psychiatry residency to our curriculum,” Dr. Lang said. “Christiana Care has an excellent background in training medical residents, and we have a distinguished faculty on board.”

Cristinel Coconcea, M.D., the training director of the psychiatry residency program, leveraged Christiana Care’s vast resources when designing the curriculum. All but one of the rotations take place within the health care system. To gain experience in child and adolescent psychiatry, residents will spend two months at Rockford Center, a private psychiatric facility that serves children and adolescents, as well as adults.

The psychiatry residents spend the first two years focusing on inpatient settings. Christiana Care has an acute-care program providing diagnostic evaluations and short-term treatment.

During the second year, they will gain experience in outpatient psychiatry, which becomes more intensive in the third and fourth years. Residents take electives in their fourth year to get more training in areas that need well-trained specialists, such as addiction psychiatry, community and geriatric psychiatry.

Dr. Coconcea is pleased with the caliber of the first-year residents. “They’ve been involved in clinical research, and they come with an excellent background,” he said.

The program will take four new residents each year for a total of 16 in the program.

“The experience thus far has been amazing,” Dr. Sharma said. “My knowledge has increased so much. I am so excited to continue my training and journey at Christiana Care.”

About Christiana Care Health System
Headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, and continually ranked by US News & World Report as a Best Hospital, Christiana Care is one of the country’s largest academic health systems, centered on improving health outcomes, making high-quality care more accessible and lowering health care costs. Christiana Care includes an extensive network of outpatient services, home health care, medical aid units, two hospitals (1,227 beds), a Level I trauma center and a Level III neonatal intensive care unit, comprehensive stroke center and regional centers of excellence in cardiology, cancer and women’s health. With our unique, data-powered care coordination service and a focus on population health and value-based care, Christiana Care is shaping the future of health care. Learn how we deliver greater quality and value at