Philip Rankin is
a medical student at the University of Birmingham
Mix of students
Currently the Royal College of
Psychiatrists is based in an old London
mansion in Belgrave Square. The imposing, impressive building felt
intimidating for a third year medical student.
Yet once inside, a warm welcome from the
organisers put to rest any thoughts that I had come to this career
evening too far ahead of my clinical years. In fact, sitting in the
grand Council room, I met over 40 medical students, who were a mix
of first years to final years and had come from all over the UK to
gain insight of what a career in psychiatry might be like. It seems
you do not have to wait to the year before FY1 job applications to
start getting involved in medical careers events.
We were all welcomed to the College by Dr Tom
Brown, the Associate Registrar for Recruitment and a Liaison
Psychiatrist who gave an inspiring talk about his passion for
Next we heard two talks about psychiatry
electives and international psychiatry – two topics which are often
not mentioned. For example we listened to a current student’s
first-hand account of her psychiatry elective in South Africa where
she was able to visit community clinics in the Townships of Cape
Furthermore Dr Peter Hughes, a Consultant who
leads the Volunteer and International Psychiatry Special
Interest Group gave out his contact details to all attendees and
encouraged us to get in touch with him so the College could help us
plan and fund electives which suit our needs. This invitation to
access tailored support to plan an elective was a rare and
extremely useful opportunity to help organise a high quality
elective – an often quite daunting task.
This led into a discussion with Dr Alice
Lomax, Chair of the Psychiatric Trainees’ Committee about core and
higher training in psychiatry. Despite this topic seeming to
be way into the future, it was surprisingly useful even at this
early stage because as well as the career guideline (exams et al.)
– we were given a glimpse of how psychiatry training may change in
the next few years, what a typical trainees’ working day is like
and crucially, advice on what students can start doing now to land
the jobs they hope for in the future. This last point was developed
through a talk by two medical students who highlighted how to go
about organising a research project for yourself (a useful thing to
know whatever specialty you end up in), upcoming student-friendly
conferences and tips for bursary and prize applications.
The evening ended with a question and answer
session and finally a drinks reception with various members of the
College – not least the current President, Professor Sue Bailey –
who even gave us a personal tour of the premises.
So what did I think about this overall?
For a few hours of my time I had the privilege of learning more
about a career in psychiatry than I would have at medical school, I
made some great contacts who I can collaborate with and learn from
in the future and that attending careers events even in the early
years of medical school can lay the foundations for a good
application and career in your chosen specialty.
I also left feeling that I would encourage
students to attend these usually free and high-quality events as
often as possible, as useful information which is applicable to all
branches of medicine is often given out.
Someone once said to me that a good way to
help you find the right medical specialty for you is to see how
well you get on with doctors already in that specialty. A careers
event such as this is a perfect opportunity to meet many
high-profile, interesting clinicians who may serve as such
- The Royal College of Psychiatrists have an
for interested medical students.
- The medical student voice of the College can
be followed on Twitter @future_psych.
- Finally please get in touch with Birmingham PsychSoc on
firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish
be informed of upcoming events such as this.