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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

The 2011 Institute of Psychiatry Summer School

Fiona Robertson is a medical student at the Unviversity of Dundee.

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The 2011 Institute of Psychiatry Summer School

27 medical students, spanning from a variety of UK institutions, had the opportunity to converge in London for a week-long Summer School based at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London.

 

The course kicked off with a warm welcome to the Institute followed by a ‘speed dating’ type session where we got the opportunity to briefly chat with psychiatrists from many sub-specialties, ranging from child and adolescent, psychotherapy, liaison and some of the emerging fields such as neuropsychiatry - a kind of overlap between neurology and psychiatry as it focuses on mental disorders pertaining to diseases of the nervous system (e.g. amnesia and dementia). This session gave us an insight into just how vast the field really is.

 

A day was spent at the Bethlem Royal Hospital where we learned about forensic psychiatry and also some fascinating history of psychiatry, touring the museum/gallery located there. In addition we met with forensic patients in one of the rehabilitation wards of River House, a medium secure psychiatric hospital. Here, we gained an insight about their experiences of living there; a truly memorable experience.

 

We were privileged to be lectured by some of today’s leading professionals of psychiatry, such as Professor Simon Wessely, who spoke about The Gulf War and its Aftermath, and Dr Avie Luthra a psychiatrist who devotes much of his time directing films such as Lucky, which was shortlisted for the Oscars. There truly were some very inspiring speakers, including a psychiatrist who revealed to us their own struggle in overcoming mental illness, showing that anyone, even us high-flying medics, are vulnerable to emotional instability.

 

Lifestyle

As well as expanding our knowledge on psychiatry from an academic perspective, we also experienced the lifestyle of some psychiatrists outside their work and on a night out! We spent an evening in the pub with some psychiatric trainees and a brave few of us went out clubbing in London with them afterwards! Some of us non-Londoners were provided with accommodation at a psychiatrist’s own home (Scotland is rather far to commute to every day!), where we were lovingly catered for (I was lucky enough to be taken to the cinema by the family I stayed with to see the latest Harry Potter film!).

 

The 2011 Institute of Psychiatry Summer SchoolOur last evening was spent at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, where we were given a guided tour by the Dean of the College. That, along with some lovely food and wine, made for a very pleasant rounding off of a jam-packed week.

 

Overall, the summer school really opened my eyes to just how varied and fascinating life as a psychiatrist can be. It was a memorable week with many new friends from across the country made and amazing advice gained from some of the UK’s top psychiatrists.

 

I would certainly say that if you are contemplating a career in psychiatry and want to learn more; the Institute of Psychiatry Summer School provides you with a unique opportunity to experience a real insight into such a stimulating career. They certainly converted me!

 

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