Psychiatry Residency

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The psychiatry residency program at Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) was created to address the critical need for psychiatrists in rural and Western North Carolina, where all 16 counties have been federally designated as mental health professional shortage areas. Our mission is to train excellent psychiatrists who can work with rural, underserved populations and who are experts at providing consultation in primary care settings.

Our outpatient clinic, the Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness, opened on MAHEC's campus in July 2019 and our expanded clinic space opened in fall of 2021. In recognition of our success to date, ACGME approved expanding our class size to six residents effective July 2020.

Our outpatient psychiatry clinic is located in the UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC building, our academic health center that is a unique collaboration with MAHEC, the University of North Carolina, Western Carolina University, and regional community partners. In addition to our psychiatry residency program and outpatient clinic, this academic health center houses the UNC School of Medicine Asheville campus, a master of public health program jointly led by UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and UNC Asheville, and research initiatives affiliated with the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. An inter-professional learning café and incubator spaces facilitate innovative research and clinical practices.

Asheville continues to grow and become more interesting and vibrant with each passing season. We look forward to each and every interview season and hope you will consider MAHEC Psychiatry for the next step in your training!

Our Team

Elena Perea, MD Elena Perea, MD
Director, Psychiatry Residency Program
Director, Rural Psychiatry Residency Program
Faculty, Consultation/Liaison Fellowship

Symone Simmons Symone Simmons
Program Coordinator

Ben Vockery Ben Vockery
Program Administrator

Contact Us

For more information or questions about our program, please contact

4th Year Medical Student Rotations

MAHEC offers a variety of student rotations in Family Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, General Surgery, Rural Medicine, and Psychiatry for both in-state and out-of-state students interested in our residency programs. Learn more about our 4th year medical student rotations

Values Statement

  • Excellence: We deliver quality activities and services that our customers and partners value.
  • Diversity: We promote equity and inclusivity.
  • Integrity: We act with fairness, transparency, and the highest level of ethics.
  • Collaboration: We value partnerships and support interprofessional approaches.
  • Improvement: We continuously innovate and improve our work.

Foundational Principles

  • Civility: We treat all people with respect and kindness, all the time.
  • Inclusivity: We value the contribution of people different than ourselves and the merits of an organization that reflects differences in our teams and our community.
  • Empowerment: We value engagement, commitment, and ownership of MAHEC’s mission, work, and budget.

Our Commitment

MAHEC is committed to creating an equitable and inclusive place to work, learn, and receive care. We actively recruit physicians, staff, and students from underrepresented minorities, and we strive to implement policies and procedures that value and support diverse backgrounds and experiences. MAHEC does not discriminate on the basis of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, spiritual practice, geography, disability, or age.


First-year residents work in a variety of inpatient Psychiatry settings, including Pardee Hospital, Mission Hospital, Broughton State Hospital, and the VA Medical Center. Residents also have two months of Inpatient medicine and one month of inpatient neurology at Mission Hospital. The remainder of the first-year primary care requirement will be completed in a combination of family medicine and internal medicine ambulatory care clinics.


All second-year residents rotate through an established set of outpatient psychiatry settings, including MAHEC’s school-based therapy team, a treatment resistant clinic at MAHEC Psychiatry that includes TMS, clozapine and ketamine treatments, the Asheville Bridge Collaborative for the unhoused and psychiatric consults with MAHEC OB/GYN and Project CARA. Second-year residents also have multiple elective opportunities to spend time at various sites which may be of interest to them including a university student health center, an assertive community treatment team (ACTT), outpatient consults at the Cherokee Indian Hospital, emergency psychiatry at Mission Hospital, ride-alongs with the post-overdose opioid response team (PORT), and several others! In addition to their rotations, second-year residents spend one full day each week in both child and adult continuity clinics, and one half day each week seeing psychotherapy patients.


Third-year residents return to the inpatient setting with more specialized psychiatry rotations including child and adolescent, geriatrics, and consultation/liaison with electroconvulsive therapy, as well as a substance use disorder rotation at the Julian F. Keith Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center (ADATC). The third-year resident also returns to the general adult psychiatry inpatient unit as a junior resident. Adult and child continuity clinics are one half day each every week in addition to the one half day spent seeing psychotherapy patients. The basic requirements for residency are completed after the third year, allowing residents to fast-track into a child/adolescent fellowship if desired.


Fourth-year residents have a one-month forensics rotation at Broughton State Hospital as well as three months at the VAMC doing a combination of consultation/liaison, substance use disorder and integrated care clinic outpatient psychiatry. One half day per week is spent doing collaborative and integrated care consultations with rural primary care physicians as part of the Rural Health Initiative. Adult continuity clinic and psychotherapy are one half day each every week. The remainder of the fourth-year resident’s time is elective, allowing them to create a personalized curriculum as they prepare to begin their career in psychiatry.

All residents have one afternoon each week protected for didactics. This includes an ongoing Journal Club, case conference, resident presentations, research, and ongoing lectures overviewing the psychiatric field of knowledge with an emphasis on evidence-based care.

Our outpatient psychiatry clinic, the Center for Psychiatry and Mental Wellness, is housed at UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC along with branch campuses of the UNC School of Medicine and a Master of Public Health program jointly conferred by UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and UNC Asheville.

Our residency program is located on the same campus with our dental, family medicine, transitional year, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pharmacy, and surgery residencies, which provides an optimal environment for cross-fertilization of ideas and collaboration.


Residents PGY4

Residents PGY3

Residents PGY2

Residents PGY1

Application Requirements

We invite you to apply to our program via the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). We will review your application and contact you if we are able to offer you an interview. Typically, our interview season runs from October through January and includes ~11 total interview dates.

A complete ERAS application is required, including:

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Photo
  • Personal statement
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty who have directly supervised clinical performance (at least one letter should be from a psychiatrist)
  • Medical school transcript(s)
  • Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)
  • USMLE, COMLEX, or Canadian licensing exam completion (Step 1 or COMLEX 1 required, Step 2 or COMLEX 2 preferred)
Questions regarding the application process should be directed to the Residency Program Coordinator at

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

The Graduate Medical Education (GME) programs will select from among eligible applicants on the basis of residency program-related criteria such as their preparedness, ability, aptitude, academic credentials, communication skills, and personal qualities such as motivation and integrity.

Minimum Requirements

An applicant must meet or exceed the following minimum qualification(s) to be eligible for selection and appointment to MAHEC’s GME residency programs:

  • Be a graduate of a medical school in the United States or Canada, accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME); or
  • Be a graduate of a college of osteopathic medicine in the United States, accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA); or
  • Be a graduate of a non-LCME- or AOA-approved medical school who also meets one of the following additional qualifications:
    • holds a currently-valid certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) prior to appointment; or
    • holds a full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in a United States licensing jurisdiction in his or her current ACGME specialty/subspecialty program; or
    • has graduated from a medical school outside the United States and has completed a Fifth Pathway program provided by a LCME-accredited medical school.
  • Passed USMLE Steps 1 and 2 or COMLEX 1 and 2 within three attempts, as required by the North Carolina Medical Board.
  • Be eligible for a NC resident training license.
  • Be eligible to work in the U.S. (citizen, permanent resident, eligible visa including J1). MAHEC does not sponsor H1B or other visas.

International Medical Graduates

Special laws and regulations apply to international medical graduates who wish to enter the United States to undertake graduate medical education. MAHEC's policies and procedures regarding graduates of international medical schools comply with federal and state laws and regulations and MAHEC's commitment to graduate medical education.

Graduates of medical schools outside the United States and Canada must have a currently valid certificate from ECFMG. Applicants must successfully pass both Step 1 (basic medical) and Step 2 (clinical knowledge and skills) of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).

While MAHEC does not sponsor a visa, the international medical graduate applicant must also possess a current/valid visa option or other status governed by the U.S. Immigration Regulations to participate in a GME program.

Finally, the North Carolina Medical Board requires that physicians who are graduates of schools that are not accredited by the LCME or the AOA (foreign medical schools) must be individually certified by ECFMG, have successfully completed at least three years of accredited graduate medical training, and have passed the USMLE or its equivalent to be eligible for application for full licensure. An international medical graduate must complete all other application requirements required by MAHEC and the GME program.

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