A psychiatry residency program at Atrium Health is giving students the personalized attention and diverse clinical training needed to make a difference in the community. Meet 3 graduates who are passionate about helping patients heal while prioritizing their mental health.

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Meet the First Psychiatry Residency Program Graduating Class

A psychiatry residency program at Atrium Health is giving students the personalized attention and diverse clinical training needed to make a difference in the community. Meet 3 graduates who are passionate about helping patients heal while prioritizing their mental health.

Psychiatrists form the behavioral health backbone of a community, helping patients overcome challenges with a focus on healing. They take the lead in improving the quality of mental healthcare and promote wellness. In recent years, there has been a growing need for qualified psychiatrists in the Charlotte region.

Atrium Health responded to this need by launching the Sandra and Leon Levine Psychiatry Residency Program, which provides a broad range of training and clinical experiences for residents.

“We’re thrilled to be training physicians in our own culture and best practices,” James Rachal, MD, senior academic chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Atrium Health, explained. “We’re training them in the kind of psychiatric care that’s best for people in this region, helping them learn to work with our unique resources and leadership.”

On June 25, 2021, the first class of residents will graduate from the program.

“This is a milestone for Atrium Health’s behavioral health program as we celebrate the first graduating class of the Sandra and Leon Levine Psychiatry Residency Program,” said Armando Chardiet, president of Atrium Health Foundation. “We are grateful to the Levine family for their vision and commitment to expanding behavioral health services in our community.”

What’s the best part of the program, according to the students? The faculty. “Our residents love the strong relationships they build with our doctors, since each attending physician is assigned to work with one resident,” said Susan Gray, MD, director of residency education for the Sandra and Leon Levine Psychiatry Residency Program. “Thanks to the personalized attention and mentorship, they truly feel supported while they receive an outstanding clinical education.”

Here are some other outstanding features of the program:

  • Individual psychotherapy. The program pays for a year of training psychotherapy, which is unique to a community hospital program. “It can be hard to work with people and encourage them to have psychological insight when you haven’t practiced on yourself or worked through your own inner conflicts,” explained Dr. Gray. ”With a focus on wellness, we make sure every resident engages in their own psychotherapy to help improve future patient interactions.”
  • Telemedicine. Virtual healthcare options have become the norm, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. Atrium Health has offered telemedicine within behavioral healthcare for years, providing residents full immersion and a unique skill set when graduating – more so than any other program in the U.S.
  • Subspecialties. The program features training in a variety of subspecialties within psychiatry, including child and adolescent services, partial hospitalization, addiction and emergency medicine. “We have the only psychiatric emergency department in the Southeast region and one of only a few in the country,” Dr. Gray said. “This department has a special area for kids so we can provide personalized care and attention apart from the general population.”
  • Forensic psychiatry. The program has a large forensic psychiatry component to help residents explore the connection between mental health and the justice system.

A graduating resident, April Schindler, MD, whom you’ll read about below, created the Physician, Advanced Practice Provider, Teammate Health/Support (PATH) Program. It provides free and confidential virtual outpatient psychiatry and psychotherapy services to Atrium Health providers and teammates. The PATH Program will be sunsetting on July 31, 2021. 

“When I see this graduating class and consider the impact they might have, it’s truly mind-boggling,” revealed Dr. Gray. “Every year we’re going to multiply that impact, producing new psychiatrists who are trained to improve the quality of mental healthcare in the region. Decades from now, we’ll be benefiting future generations with strong psychiatric support throughout the community.”


Get to Know Our Graduates

April Schindler

Why did you choose psychiatry in the field of medicine?

Psychiatry is the epitome of whole-person care. This field of medicine offers an opportunity to meet a person exactly where they are and then walk alongside them toward a place of total healing and restoration.

What will you miss the most about this residency program?

I’ll really miss the camaraderie of working with our administration and faculty to create something amazing! I will always treasure my memories of those who inspire me daily to “change the world” one patient at a time.

What are your clinical interests?

I am interested in addiction psychiatry, psychotic disorders, physician well-being, obesity medicine and the interaction between inflammation and psychiatric disease.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy running, reading and playing games with my kids.

What’s your favorite type of food or local restaurant?

I love eating sushi at Umami.

What’s the next step in your career?

I will be in private practice here in South Charlotte.

Who’s your role model?

I admire Doc McStuffins because she can fix anything! Seriously though, Joanna Gaines is my role model. She can turn ruins into royalty!

What’s your best advice for future psychiatry residents?

There is incredible power in being a caring witness to the suffering of another human: your patients, your colleagues and even yourself, at times. Never underestimate the power of presence.


Mihika Batavia

Why did you choose psychiatry in the field of medicine?

I chose psychiatry because I wanted to help alleviate the unseen burdens patients carry daily that impact their well-being and joy. I wanted to bring awareness and help patients make their mental health as much of a priority as their physical health.

What will you miss the most about this residency program?

I will miss all the amazing faculty who have guided me in this journey. I’ve had many valuable experiences to take away from it. 

What are your clinical interests?

I am interested in general inpatient psychiatry and brain stimulation (electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation).

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy cooking, baking and spending time with my family and fur baby, Brutus.

What’s your favorite local restaurant?

Little Mama’s hits the spot every time.

What’s the next step in your career?

I have accepted an inpatient psychiatry position in Nashville, Tennessee.

What’s your best advice for future psychiatry residents?

Enjoy what you do, and learn from every moment you have.


Veronica Ridpath

Why did you choose psychiatry in the field of medicine?

I planned to do family medicine, but I ended up spending so much time on the psychiatric concerns that I decided to do it full time!

What will you miss the most about this residency program?

The patients we see are very unique. I’ll also miss seeing the junior residents grow and gain confidence as they progress through the program.

What are your clinical interests?

Addiction medicine is my passion. No other field is as stigmatized – even within psychiatry. I love being part of that change.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy cooking, gardening, dancing and traveling.

What’s your favorite type of food or local restaurant?

I’m always up for anything authentic and unique.

What’s the next step in your career path?

I’ll be going to HopeHealth in Florence, South Carolina, to work in community mental health.

What fictional movie character would you be?

My 3-year-old thinks I’m Elastigirl (the mom from The Incredibles), which I think is the definition of motherhood in medicine. You’re always stretched thin but somehow make it work.

Who’s your role model?

I admire anyone who has achieved sobriety after hitting rock bottom. Also, my patients inspire me every day.

What’s your best advice for future psychiatry residents?

Don’t lose your compass. There are many competing interests, and you’ll be pulled in many different directions. Always do the right thing, and it will work out in the end.


Learn more              

Visit the Sandra and Leon Levine Psychiatry Residency Program page to learn more about the faculty, curriculum and application criteria. Apply to the program to get the personalized attention and diverse clinical training you need to help patients heal.