UCI/CHOC Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Program

Welcome! The University of California at Irvine (UCI)/CHOC Children’s Hospital offers a two-year training program in a fully ACGME-accredited fellowship program. Our child and adolescent psychiatry program aims to prepare fellows for careers as leaders in clinical or academic medicine through a superior academic, professional, and collegial atmosphere. Our fellowship has rotations at both UCI Medical Center, UCI outpatient clinics, CHOC Children’s Hospital, Orange county behavioral health clinics, etc.

Here at CHOC, we have a state-of-the art and nationally renowned children’s hospital. While at CHOC, fellows gain experience in providing acute inpatient psychiatric care and in psychosomatic care on a Consultation/Liaison service. Fellows also embed in specialty bulimia anorexia nervosa (BAN) clinic. In their second year, they carry therapy cases for medically complex patients with psychiatric issues. Our program is designed to meet the ACGME requirements for fellowship training so fellows may be eligible and successful in attaining board certification. We have a 100% pass rate with adult and child psychiatry board exams in past 5+ years.

Nationally, there is a severe shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists but a growing need for childhood mental health care. Therefore, we are committed to training the next generation of physicians who evolve to be physician-leaders, researchers, academicians, skilled therapists and advocates. We are committed to recruiting a diverse set of future child psychiatrists. We strongly believe that diversity in physicians leads to a richer learning environment and better overall care for children and families.
The training and education of medical students, residents, and fellows has been a longstanding focus of CHOC. Each year, CHOC trains about 290 residents and fellows from 38 different training programs, along with 190 medical students.

Contact Us

UCI/CHOC Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Program
1201 W La Veta Ave
Orange, CA 92868

Paramjit Joshi, MD
Training Director
Interim Chief of Department
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department at UCI

Program Leadership

Lavanya Wusirika, MD
Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Director – CHOC
Lavanya.Wusirika@choc.org

Hoang ‘Wayne’ Nguyen, MD
Division Chief, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry – CHOC

Michelle Carey, BA, PMP
Department Assistant

Program Highlights

Duration: 2 years
Prerequisite Training: Applicants must have completed a certified psychiatry residency program prior to starting a fellowship
VISAS accepted by Program: J-1
Number of Fellows per year: 4

The UCI/CHOC Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship program is a two-year program that provides exposure to a wide range of clinical settings, patient populations, and treatment acuity levels, allowing fellows to develop a comprehensive skill set for an independent career in academic and clinical child & adolescent psychiatry.  We aim to provide each fellow with:
• Comprehensive training of mental illnesses experienced in childhood and co-occurring mental illness in medically-ill children
• An in-depth understanding of childhood development theories, attachment theory, psychodynamic principles, systemic family therapy theories, DSM-V diagnostic categories and symptomatology
• Supervision and mentoring by attendings who have a variety of training backgrounds (Adult psychiatry/Child psychiatry, Triple Board in pediatrics/adult psychiatry/child psychiatry, Quadruple-boarded in pediatrics/adult psychiatry/child psychiatry/psychosomatic medicine, Eating disorder specific training)
• Working with patients from diverse socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds and learning to provide culturally-competent care to families
• Opportunity to work within multidisciplinary teams – therapists, social workers, psychologists and psychology trainees, pediatrics residents, hospitalist attendings, dieticians, art and music therapists, child life clinicians and nursing staff.
• Experience providing patient/family-centered, evidence-based, high-quality, and innovative care to patients and their families.

Goals & Objectives

In accordance with the ACGME, the fellowship program will partner with UCI and will be largely dedicated to acquiring clinical skills in child and adolescent psychiatry consultation & liaison and outpatient clinic services.

The general expectations and responsibilities of the fellows are as follows:
• Fellows will communicate with attending physicians and consulting services.
• Fellows assume progressive responsibility for patient care.
• Fellows are expected to actively seek the most up-to date information to guide practice.
• Fellows take an active role in teaching medical students and residents through bedside teaching, morning reports, noon conferences, and grand rounds.
• With the assistance of the Scholarly Oversight Committee (SOC), fellows will be required to initiate and complete a scholarly project in either clinical or basic science research that meets ACGME program requirements.
• Fellows scholarly progress will be monitored by the Scholarly Oversight Committee (SOC) on a semiannual basis.
• Fellow progress will be assessed through a Clinical Competency Committee (CCC).
• Fellows will receive education and participate in a quality improvement project.
Welcome to Orange County! A great perk to training at UCI/CHOC is living in an exciting and vibrant area. We have exquisite cuisine, easy access to many theme parks (Disneyland, Knotts Berry farm, Universal Studios Hollywood), extensive and beautiful hiking trails, a multitude of beaches, and more. Orange County is situated well to allow access to the mountains for hikes and camping, beaches for surfing, kayaking and paddle-boarding, and snowy cities perfect for skiing and snowboarding. All of these are just 20-30 minutes from Orange, CA itself where UCI and CHOC are located. We expect you will work hard in fellowship to take in all the great learning and with patient care. We also value a balance in life. We encourage fellows to enrich their lives and ensure they can access many ways to have fun.
Training at CHOC Children’s provides exposure to a wide range of clinical settings, patient populations, and treatment acuity levels, allowing fellows to develop a comprehensive skill set. Following is a brief description of the core experiences fellows will rotate through during their training:
During the first year, fellow rotations will follow a 4-block template where they will rotate every three months between Inpatient, Consultation & Liaison Psychiatry services and Outpatient clinics. The assignment of rotations will be structured so as to minimize the frequency of transitions and be sufficient to provide continuity of patient care, supervision, and opportunities to build longitudinal relationships with faculty members who will in turn provide quality and meaningful assessment and feedback.
During the second year, the fellow will have a longitudinal psychotherapy rotation, once a week. This rotation also allows protected time for therapy supervision with the head psychologist at CHOC.

CHOC Children’s Mental Health Inpatient Center (MHIC)


During this first year rotation, fellows will:
• Become proficient in interviewing young children (ages 12 and under) with serious mental illness and acute psychiatric crisis
• Participate in daily multidisciplinary rounds with therapists, psychologist, other trainees, nursing staff, art therapist, music therapist and child life clinicians to provide exemplary care to the sickest children and families in crisis
• Learn to lead therapy groups on the unit for patients

CHOC Children's Consultation & Liaison Psychiatry Service


During this first year rotation, fellows gain experience in providing seeing medically ill and complex patients at Orange County’s state-of-the-art and nationally renowned children’s hospital. Fellows are:
• Closely supervised and trained by an attending child psychiatrist and receive valuable training in all facets of pediatric psychosomatic medicine.
• Learning with and from a team of psychology trainees and psychology attendings

CHOC Children’s Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa (BAN) Clinic:


During the C/L rotation, one day a week, first-year fellows will:
• Work in a multidisciplinary team of attending pediatricians, dietitians, psychologists, social workers and a supervising psychiatrist in a team-based approach toward treating eating disorders
• Master the treatment of severe eating disorders in children. This is a busy and collaborative clinic. If their patients are admitted to the hospital from the clinic, fellows can follow them as a consultant in the hospital where they are essentially provided the services of an inpatient eating disorder unit including the use of NG tubes, psychological services, dieticians, and weekly interdisciplinary team rounds.
• Learn several psychosocial interventions as well as appropriate psychiatric treatment for this population during this rotation.
While at CHOC, fellows will participate in educational conferences/ lectures and noon conferences. There will be ample opportunity to read, review and discuss seminal research articles pertinent to patient care. Regarding teaching, the fellow will participate in lectures for the pediatric residents and psychology trainees including:
UCI Grand Rounds: 1 or 2 lectures per year pertaining to child and adolescent psychiatry topics
UCI Journal Club: Fellow chooses and reviews, using evidence-based techniques, a recent journal article relevant to child and adolescent psychiatry topics; once or twice yearly.
UCI outpatient Fellow Case Conference: Fellows bring challenging cases from their clinic to discuss with attending and other fellows. This is an opportunity to get management advice on their toughest patients as well as learn from other fellows’ cases and other perspectives from attending physicians.
CHOC Thursday Pediatrics rounds: 1 or 2 lectures per rotation on general child psychiatry topics to pediatrics residents, while on inpatient psychiatry rotation
CHOC Friday Case Conference and Journal Club: Each Friday, fellows meet with inpatient and C/L attendings to review tough cases, read and discuss relevant literature. This is also an opportunity to explore future career directions and receive mentorship
CHOC Consult/Liaison Lectures : 1 or 2 lectures per rotation on relevant psychosomatic topics to psychology trainees and team
All fellows are directly supervised by faculty members (CHOC, UCI) specific to that rotation. This attending physician will always be available to the fellow and can serve as a backup call in situations of fatigue. It is the responsibility of the fellow to communicate effectively and in a timely fashion with the attending physician as well as other team members. At each stage of training, the goal is to provide a level of supervision that ensures patient safety and maximizes education and promotes the fellow’s progress towards independence and autonomy. The expectation of the faculty and other team members then is to provide ongoing feedback as part of the 360° evaluations. Each rotation has dedicated mid-rotation and end of rotation feedback sessions.
Fellows do not take overnight or weekend call at CHOC. While on CHOC rotations, they will be required to be on call on occasional weekends at UCI adolescent unit.
Fellows are expected to complete a Quality Improvement (QI) project and often work on this project collaboratively as a group of fellows. Often, there are very interesting cases in the CHOC clinical rotations. Our attendings support and collaborate with the fellows to write case reports, make case presentations, perform reviews of the relevant literature, etc. Our fellows have presented at AACAP (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) annual meetings. Our fellows had abstracts and papers accepted at leading journals such as JAACAP.
Lavanya 'Lava' Wusirika, MD – UCI-CHOC Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Director. UCI School of Medicine Assistant Clinical Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Publications and research interests include early-onset psychosis, LGBTQIA+ patient care. As Fellowship Director, Dr. Lava ensures fellows fulfill the requirements of the ACGME related to the six general core competencies. She is also responsible for the creation of a core curriculum in scholarly activities, incorporates feedback and responsibilities to guide the fellow in their career path, helps the fellow identify a mentor, participates in the Scholarship Oversight Committee responsible for overseeing and assessing the progress of each trainee, and provide verification to the ABP of the successful completion of training of the fellow.

Hoang ‘Wayne’ Nguyen, MD –CHOC Division Chief, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. UCI School of Medicine Assistant Clinical Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (Vol).

Rebecca Ba’Gah, MD – CHOC Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, Inpatient Services. UCI School of Medicine Assistant Clinical Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Michael Chu, MD, MHS – CHOC Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, Consultation & Liaison Services. UCI School of Medicine Volunteer Assistant Clinical Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Clinical interests include consultation-liaison psychiatric care, eating disorders, cultural psychiatry, quality improvement, and collaborative mental health care.

Laura Lai, MD –CHOC Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, Outpatient Services. UCI School of Medicine Assistant Clinical Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

In addition, our team includes licensed nurse practitioners, psychologists, and social workers. We are an ADA-accredited program.

About the Fellowship Director

Dr. Lavanya ‘Lava’ Wusirika is the fellowship education director for the UC Irvine-CHOC Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship program at CHOC hospital. Dr. Lava, as everyone calls her, got her B.S. at UC Berkeley in Bioengineering. She went on to a brief career in bioengineering research and microfluidics. She also had a side career in attending Cal football games. She left bench research and went to medical school at USC (University of Southern California) Keck School of Medicine. She completed her adult psychiatry residency training at LAC-USC Medical Center in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, CA. She then completed her child and adolescent psychiatry training at UCLA.

Dr. Lava now works at the CHOC Children’s Cherese Marie Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center (MHIC), an 18-bed inpatient psychiatric unit for children and adolescents from ages 4 to 17. She has committed her life’s work to taking care of those with serious mental illnesses and the underserved populations of Southern California. In her spare time, she enjoys kayaking, true crime documentaries, scary movies and going on long walks with her baby and her husband.

Dr. Lava is the proud recipient of the 2021 and 2022 UCI Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Faculty of the Year award.

Our Hospitals

University of California, Irvine
UCI provides extensive, high-quality education and clinical training, with 560 full-time faculty members and more than 1300 volunteer faculty members from 26 clinical departments. UCI sponsors a multitude of innovative and highly productive research programs. In addition to its adult programs, UCI serves as the sponsor for residencies in Pediatrics, Child Neurology, Combined Pediatrics/Anesthesia, and Medical Genetics, as well as fellowships in Neonatal/Perinatal Medicine, Pediatric Pulmonology, Pediatric Critical Care, Pediatric Infectious Disease, Pediatric Urology, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Read more about UCI Graduate Medical Education

CHOC Hospital in Orange
CHOC is an academic, community-based hospital that serves as the main site for training in the fellowship. It has 334 beds, including a 30-bed PICU, 12-bed Cardiac ICU, 72-bed NICU, an 18-bed mental health inpatient center and separate Oncology and Neuroscience units. In 2016-2017, there were 12,891 hospital discharges with 89,791 ED visits and 4,252 transports to CHOC. CHOC’s ED is a Level II pediatric trauma center. CHOC also operates primary care and specialty clinics throughout the county. The hospital serves about 2 million patients over 4 counties. The training and education of medical students, residents, and fellows has been a longstanding focus of CHOC.

Each year, CHOC trains about 290 residents and fellows from 38 different training programs, along with 190 medical students.

CHOC has an active Innovation Institute. The Sharon Disney Lund Medical Intelligence and Innovation Institute (MI3) at CHOC is a unique and first-of-its-kind institute that creates, focuses, and executes projects in the areas of intelligence and innovation in pediatric medicine. These two interrelated disciplines, extremely limited in development in the pediatric realm, hold great promise to change the trajectory of pediatric care around the world. MI3 aims to foster robust developments in artificial intelligence methodologies, as well as innovative advances in emerging areas such as genomic medicine, regenerative medicine, robotics, nanotechnology and medical applications/devices. MI3 is dedicated to empowering data intelligence and medical innovation at CHOC and driving innovation leadership in the international pediatrics community. Fellow physicians in our program will be exposed to MI3 and have the opportunity to partake in an innovation project during their training if they choose.