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Dr Karen Birnie

Dr Karen Birnie

I first became interested in psychiatry during the Psychiatry Early Exposure Programme at my university, which I joined in my first year of medical school. I was able to shadow trainees rotating through various sub-specialties and was fascinated by the breadth of psychiatry. Intrigued, I took an intercalated year in psychology, in which I conducted my own research project on psychosis. Alongside this, I volunteered with an education charity which taught comprehensive relationships and sex education in schools and developed lessons on wellbeing for school and university students.

In particular, I liked that psychiatry allowed more time with patients, as well as opportunities to pursue and incorporate other interests into one’s work. For example, I was able to gain research experience with several projects at the Maudsley Biomedical Research Nucleus alongside my clinical placements. In addition, I really enjoy arts in medicine and have been involved with creative events, discussing mental health through art, music and film, which I am keen to pursue in my career.

I applied to the Fellowship because I wanted to stay connected to the specialty and the College over my foundation years, especially as my rotations didn’t include a psychiatry job. The mentorship and opportunities to attend events will therefore be invaluable over this time, for achieving my own goals and staying up to date with current research in the field.

To prepare for my interview, I reviewed my CV and considered past projects I had been involved with. I thought about what skills I had developed from these and why they would be beneficial, as well as gaps in my experience and how I could fill these through the Fellowship. I also read recent papers that I had found interesting and how they could influence my future practice.

Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry