Fiona Robertson is a medical student
at the Unviversity of Dundee.
Getting to know you...
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.
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!).
Our 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
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!