April 2016 - Dr Allan Campbell MBChB, core psychiatric trainee (LAT)
03 May, 2016
Despite all the negative headlines surrounding the junior doctors’ contract in England, there has never been a more exciting time to be a trainee doctor in psychiatry. New discoveries are being made about the pathophysiology of mental illness; for example through advanced neuroimaging techniques. Experts predict significant advances in the treatment of mental illness during the lifetime of current trainees in psychiatry. This is likely to spur increased investment in the research of mental illness.
With such exciting advances in the field of mental health, psychiatrists will remain in high demand by healthcare providers to deliver much-valued care to some of the most vulnerable members of our society. In an effort to promote recruitment into psychiatry, the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland is holding a Foundation Doctors’ Evening on Tuesday 10 May 2016 (to which medical students are also warmly welcomed) in order that those considering a career in psychiatry can find out more about the field, how to apply, and how to maximise their application score! Foundation Doctors who are considering a career in psychiatry, but who were unable to get a Foundation rotation in psychiatry, may find this particularly appealing and attendance certificates are available for your portfolios.
Simultaneously, along with the scientific developments in the last great social taboo, mental illness is rightly being more frequently discussed in the public domain, along with the dispelling of many of the myths surrounding mental illness; and helped by high-profile campaigns and celebrities discussing their experiences of mental illness. In 2016, stigmatisation of psychiatrists and their patients still exists by other doctors in the field of medicine. This is most disappointing as in my experience society tends to look to doctors as role models. A recent survey has suggested this stigmatisation and negative comments about psychiatry impacts adversely on medical student recruitment into psychiatry: whilst on the converse, as a psychiatrist, I was interested to read that 27.1% of survey respondents agreed with the statement that doctors who ‘badmouth’ other specialties ‘are insecure in their own career choice’!
In order to help tackle the stigma of mental illness within medicine, The Royal College of Psychiatrists is supporting the Anti-BASH (Bad-mouthing, Attitudes and Stigmatisation in Healthcare) campaign. You can find out more and get involved here.
Although perhaps these are not reasons alone for becoming a psychiatrist, the specialty has many other attractions: it allows for the treatment of both mental and physical health (psychiatrists are responsible for the medical care of their inpatients); the further development of professional communication and team working skills (a highly sought-after transferable skill by employers); the opportunity to work closely with consultants; weekly release for teaching; mandatory weekly supervision (think of this as mentoring with your consultant supervisor); the chance to help very vulnerable people; the potential for research and academia; the many different psychiatric sub-specialties; and the many challenges associated with diagnosis, treatment resistance, behavioural management; and enjoy the excellent work-life balance!
However, by far the most interesting aspect of psychiatry for me is the variety found in patient presentations to psychiatry. Mental illness can present in so many different ways, and patients can present with such varied and interesting delusions and hallucinations, while others may be, for example, rescued in crisis at the top of a bridge. Each day I go into work not knowing what to expect, other than to expect to be challenged and interested!
If this stimulates your interest to learn more, then please come along to the Foundation Doctors’ Evening on Tuesday 10 May 2016.
I look forward to meeting you there!
Dr Allan Campbell M.B.Ch.B., Core Psychiatric Trainee (LAT)