Meet the Member: Dr Arun Subramanian, Chair, RCPsych NI Intellectual Disability Faculty
12 March, 2021
Dr Arun Subramanian is a well-known and highly respected member of RCPsych NI. Based in the Southern Trust, Arun is a Consultant Psychiatrist in Learning Disability and serves also as the Chair of the local faculty. He lives in Dungannon, County Tyrone, and we caught up with him to find out more about his career, his family, a love of cricket, travelling and music.
Arun, pictured in Gran Canaria with Soffee, and daughter Danika.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
"I was born in the City of Tiruchirappalli – known as “Trichy” - which is in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. I studied medicine at the Dr MGR Medical University in Chennai (formerly Madras) and came to the United Kingdom in 2001 after passing my PLAB exams.
"Initially, I intended to undertake core training in paediatrics, but whilst waiting for a suitable post, I did a clinical attachment in psychiatry and found the blend of mental and physical healthcare very interesting and challenging. So, I decided to do my core training in psychiatry. I was based in south Yorkshire and I and then worked as a staff grade in both London and Bedfordshire."
A young Arun dreaming of world cricketing domination in his native 'Trichy'.
"I did my senior training in Intellectual Disability in Northern Ireland through NIMDTA, with placements at Belfast and across the various trusts. I was so lucky to work with many inspirational figures – particularly Dr Maria McGinnity and Dr Caroline Marriott, both of whom I would call 'the beacon lights of learning disability in Northern Ireland'."
Can you tell us about your involvement in the College?
"I find that the College is an excellent platform that enables members to gain information, knowledge and best practice that can assist in service provision. Initially, I became involved by presenting posters at a range of events and this gave me valuable networking opportunities. I was elected to the vice-chair of the RCPsych NI Intellectual Disability faculty under Dr Joan McGuinness, and then I became chair in 2018."
Dr Subramanian pictured fellow speakers at RCPsych NI's 2019 annual LD seminar.
"This has been a real honour for me and my primary focus has been on education, hosting LD events and steering the regional strategies in intellectual disabilities. As Chair, I was able to participate and contribute within the central College faculty under Dr Ken Courtenay and Dr Ashok Roy, who are very inspirational figures. My work in the College provides me with a platform to raise standards and influence how services should be delivered more effectively and in partnership."
Why did you choose psychiatry?
"I see psychiatry as the perfect blend of physical and mental healthcare. It is all-inclusive in its approach, where you treat the person in a holistic way and consider the unique set of circumstances that led to their illness. For me, I wanted to make a difference, improve the quality of life for people and that is something that motivates me every day.
"As psychiatrists, we need to understand the full range of factors that contribute to an illness and appreciate that every case and patient is unique.
"For anyone thinking about a career in psychiatry, I, personally, would be keen to equip them with the information and guidance required to make an informed choice. The support network in psychiatry is fantastic, and you will get all the encouragement you need along the way."
Arun pictured with UK faculty chair, Dr Ken Courtenay
Can you tell us about your current role?
"I work as a Consultant Psychiatrist in St Luke’s Hospital in Armagh. I am also the Clinical Director for Learning Disability in the Southern Trust, with responsibility to develop and manage performance and services within budget and resources.
"Coming into management can be a steep learning curve as not only are you looking after the needs of individual patients, but also at the wider population in the context of delivering first-class services. I love to challenge myself, particularly in the face of adversity as it brings out the best of me. The pandemic has plunged us into a situation that we have never faced before and being in management and helping navigate the services safely has been very rewarding."
And, outside work how do you unwind?
"I love cricket and my hero was and is Sachin Tendulkar, the former Indian cricket captain, who was one of the greatest batsmen in the history of the game. To this day, I still turnout for the ‘B Group’ with the Monaghan Cricket Club, which is close to my home in Dungannon.
"I also enjoy travelling and have missed my yearly trips to ‘Trichy’ to see my family. I am married to Soffee and we have a beautiful young daughter called Danika. As a family, we love to travel and explore, and the Canary Islands and southern Spain have been our favourite places to visit.
"Musically, I like a lot of pop music, particularly Usher and Justin Timberlake, but I do really enjoy rhythm and blues and any African-American music that combines both blues and jazz."