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

Medical Student Career Evening at the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Philip Rankin is a medical student at the University of Birmingham

Mix of students

Medical Student Career Evening

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.


Inspiring talks

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 psychiatry.


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 Town.


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.  



The 2011 Institute of Psychiatry Summer SchoolSo 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 inspirations.

  • The Royal College of Psychiatrists have an excellent website 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 if you wish be informed of upcoming events such as this.


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