Alumni Spotlight

Rhonda Williams, MD

Class of 2009
Lead Psychiatrist, Women’s Health Comprehensive Clinic at the Sepulveda VA Ambulatory Care Center

Williams_editWhat part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy working with patients and residents. I view it as a privilege to have patients trust me with the intimate details of their lives. I always try to give my patients hope that their circumstances can improve and to continually encourage them.  My job is challenging but rewarding, and I truly enjoy what I am doing.

How did the UCLA San Fernando Valley residency program prepare you for your job?

This residency program provided me with a solid foundation to work with a variety of patients. After having worked with the veteran population during residency, I feel very comfortable working with this population. This residency has the unique opportunity to train in psychotherapy, which I utilize frequently with all patients. When I completed this residency, I knew that I had the necessary training to be a competent psychiatrist.

When it comes to mentoring residents and medical students, what is your philosophy?

I hope to guide residents through the process of learning and gaining confidence in psychotherapeutic and pharmacological approaches with their patients. I understand the challenges of being a resident, and my hope is that at the end of residency, each resident has the expertise and confidence to be an excellent psychiatrist. I encourage residents to enjoy the process of lifelong learning and to listen attentively to the needs of their patients.  My advice to all residents is to enjoy residency as it ends quickly and you will miss it.

Saba Syed, MD

Class of 2004
Chief, Consultation & Liason Psychiatry at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center
Program Director, Psychosomatic Medicine Fellowship at UCLA San Fernando Valley


What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I really enjoy teaching the residents and medical students, and having the opportunity to work with multidisciplinary staff.  Many of the patients in our hospital have complex medical and psychiatric comorbidities, providing new and challenging cases on a daily basis.

I enjoy the following aspects of my job the most:

  • Teaching residents, medical students and multidisciplinary staff.
  • Providing care to patients with complex medical and psychiatric co-morbidities.
  • Medicolegal and ethical dilemmas that sometimes present in the medical, surgical, and Ob/Gyn settings
  • Involvement in the administrative aspect of psychiatry
  • Collaborating with the multidisciplinary staff and primary medical teams

How did the UCLA San Fernando Valley residency program prepare you for your job?

The residency training at UCLA San Fernando Valley prepared me well for all aspects of my current job. My clinical experience in Consult and Liaison psychiatry was further enhanced by my fourth year elective rotation (2 half days a week for a duration of 6 months) at the inpatient Consult and Liaison service at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center. My chief resident education experience introduced me to the administrative and academic aspects of my job. I continue to receive mentorship from my senior colleagues, and they encourage and support me in participating in various academic and professional activities at the local and national level.

What is your philosophy in teaching/mentoring residents and medical students?

I believe a supervisor/mentor should be approachable, and that there should be an open and mutually respectful interaction between a supervisor and a trainee. In addition to formal teaching sessions, I strive to provide individual supervision and clinical training based upon their level of knowledge and clinical skills.   I encourage residents to engage in self-learning by reading articles and textbooks, as this will be the foundation of a lifelong process in building upon their knowledge base.  I frequently provide guidance and encourage participation in clinical research activities, like writing a case report or presenting a poster at a national conference.  Part of the C&L rotation involves presenting in case conferences and symposia, which help residents to develop confidence in becoming supervisors and teachers for the next generation of mental health specialists.