UNMC Psychiatry welcomes four residents

The UNMC Department of Psychiatry Residency Program matched its first class with doctors who trained in the Midwest and a doctor who attended medical school almost 4,000 miles away.

The department found out the program filled all four residency positions on March 16 and received the names of the matched applicants on March 20. Joining UNMC this summer will be Dr. Michaelyn Everhart, Dr. Matthew Kelly, Dr. Andi Ngo and Dr. Emily Royer. Dr. Ngo, who is also a trained pharmacist, attended the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine while Dr. Everhart attended at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Both Dr. Kelly and Dr. Royer are graduates of UNMC.

“This is a great class,” said Residency Program Director Dr. Daniel Gih. “It was a long process to screen, interview, and rank our first class, and so many people helped this search. I’m excited by the news that we matched with first-class people. We now have an opportunity to shape the next generation of Nebraska mental health providers.”

Dr. Gih, Residency Associate Program Director Dr. Jeana Benton, Residency Coordinator Ellie Rashid and UNMC Psychiatry Chair Dr. Howard Liu met with the new residents via Zoom on Tuesday, March 31.

“It’s great to connect with the residents, and it will be wonderful to see them in person when they arrive in June,” said Dr. Gih. 

The 2020-2021 Psychiatry Residents

Michaelyn Everhart

Hometown: Burlington, Kansas

Undergrad: University of Kansas (Behavioral Neuroscience)

Medical School: University of Kansas School of Medicine

Hobbies: aerial arts performance, singing

Matthew Kelly

Hometown: Papillion, Nebraska

Undergrad: UNL (Biochemistry)

Medical School: UNMC

Hobbies: reading, writing, cooking, aviation, religion, hiking

Andi Ngo

Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii

Undergrad: Creighton University (Pharmacology)

Medical School: University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine

Hobbies: mediation, reading fantasy and science fiction novels

Emily Royer

Hometown: Elkhorn, Nebraska and Kalamazoo, Michigan

Undergrad: UNO (Sociology)

Medical School: UNMC

Hobbies: spending time with family, walking dogs, home renovation, interior design, producing short films.

Wellness team creates webinars to help medical students

Dr. Ali DeLizza has been posting webinars twice a week on wellness activities for students. 

New webinars are held live twice a week (Tuesdays at 8 a.m. and Thursday at 4 p.m.) on Zoom.  Students can find recordings of past webinars at The Canvas course was created through a partnership with UNMC Academic Affairs. Dr. Kati Cordts, one of the developers of the course, says the webpage is a centralized location for students to access wellness information, resources for basic needs (e.g., food pantries), and technology concerns (among other things).

Dr. Cordts, a child and adolescent psychologist, worked with Dr. Steven Wengel, a geriatric psychiatrist and assistant vice-chancellor for Wellness at UNO/UNMC, to develop the program. This was in response to a call to redouble the wellness programming for UNMC students by UNMC’s Chancellor, Dr. Jeffrey Gold.  Dr. Cordts asked Dr. DeLizza to lead the webinars. Dr. DeLizza, a child and adolescent psychologist, has given many wellness talks during her time at UNMC. 

“The Basics of Managing Social Distancing,” and “Maximizing Distance via Learning,” were two early webinar topics.

“So far, the response has been positive! We are working on developing new content for coming webinars, and working on ways to ensure the content most important to students is prioritized,” said Dr. DeLizza. “We also want each webinar to stand alone, so we are working on ways to review material without it feeling repetitive or stale.”

For students who cannot watch the webinars live, they are recorded and saved on Canvas. 

In March, Dr. Delizza and Dr. Cordts signed on to promote wellness at UNMC and UNO with Dr. Wengel. Dr. Cordts has been named Director of Wellness Education.  

Dr. Machal to join UNMC faculty this summer

Incoming faculty member and UNMC alumnus Dr. Riley Machal presents her work at the American Association of Directors of Psychiatry Residency Training 2020 conference in Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Riley Machal will be joining the UNMC faculty as an instructor on July 31, 2020.

Dr. Machal graduated from UNMC and will arrive in Omaha shortly after finishing her residency at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She said her time at OSUMC prepared her well for a career in psychiatry.

“Residency at OSUMC is intense with extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in a variety of healthcare settings, including the emergency department, hospitals, and outpatient settings,” Dr. Machal said. “The attendings I worked with encouraged independence and were excellent teachers.”

As much as Dr. Machal enjoyed her time in Columbus, Ohio, she felt the urge to return to Nebraska and UNMC.

“I always knew I would return to Eastern Nebraska upon completion of residency to be close to family,” Dr. Machal said. “Having gone to medical school at UNMC, returning for my interview felt like coming home. I was very impressed with the many changes being made in the department of psychiatry and was attracted to the opportunities available.”

Dr. Machal hopes to work with patients dealing with serious and persistent illness (SPMI), which includes major depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorders.”

“There were just a lot of great opportunities for me at UNMC,” she said. “I’m excited to be involved in the new residency program, medical student education, and expanding care for the SPMI population.” 

Dr. Machal said psychiatry is a unique field of medicine in which we genuinely care for the whole person. “During my surgical internship, I found I was not fulfilled with the limited patient interactions and chose to switch specialties to psychiatry where I was able to get to know my patients and make lasting differences in their lives,” she said. 

Psychiatry Department uses telehealth to meet with patients

With COVID-19 keeping patients at home, the UNMC Department of Psychiatry has been speaking with patients via telehealth.

UNMC has long been a leader in the use of telehealth, dating back to the 1950s. This innovation was first proposed in 1955 by Cecil Wittson, M.D. (1907-1989), who at that time was head of the former Nebraska Psychiatric Institute (NPI), a pre-cursor to the UNMC Department of Psychiatry. NPI and Bell Telephone developed the program. The system was used weekly to share the lectures of the psychiatric institute’s many nationally known visitors with other mental hospitals in four states.

David Cates, Ph.D.
Vice Chair for Clinical Servies

In recent years, UNMC psychiatrists have been using the technology to speak with patients in rural areas. Since the appearance of the COVID-19 in the United States, the Department of Psychiatry leadership team have been increasing the use of telehealth to lessen the contact of Department of Psychiatry staff members and their patients. The goal is to see 100 percent of outpatients via telehealth, using telephone or online communication software Zoom.

“We have done a great job of converting on-site appointments to telehealth,” said Dr. David Cates, Department of Psychiatry Vice-Chair for Clinical Services. “Our No. 1 priority is making sure everyone is safe, and there is minimal contact between patients and provider.”

With the department’s scheduling team members working hard, more than 85 percent of visits have been converted to telehealth. Currently, the geriatric division and the Intensive Outpatient division has switched all of their appointments to telehealth or virtual visits.

“We are moving to 100 percent telehealth, including sometimes performing telephone intake if telehealth fails,” said Department of Psychiatry Chair Dr. Howard Liu. “If there is truly a safety concern, the patient may need to go to the emergency room.”

Dr. Rebecca Wysoske, Department of Psychiatry Ambulatory Director, said 97 percent of adult outpatients could be seen with telehealth. The department will look for ways to treat the other 3 percent, either by triaging the patient, postponing the appointment, or working with the patient to figure out the best course of action for everyone.

UNMC Staff Members Discuss How to Deal with the Stress of Covid-19

Dr. Ryan Edwards speaks with the Omaha World-Herald and shares tips on how to help kids deal with the stress of Covid-19.
Dr. David Cates speaks with the American Psychology Association on to address anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges among people being held at a national quarantine center.  

Dr. Steven Wengel joins the MDedge podcast to discuss how the geriatric population can deal with loneliness due to Covid-19

Dr. Lauren Edward, Dr. Ryan Edwards and Dr. Justin Weeks speak with the Grand Island Independent on how people can deal with anxiety brought on by Covid-19.

Dr. Steven Wengel writes an op-ed on the importance of always working to reduce our stress level.