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Psychiatry Personal Statement #8

Psychiatry, replete with both its allure and pragmatism, intrigues me. However, my appreciation of this specialty did not occur spontaneously. Late in my third year of medical school I found myself utterly uncomfortable in dealing with the most intimidating of my schizophrenic patients. The apparent failures in communicating with this individual were quite disconcerting. My array of techniques for building a therapeutic relationship was exhausted. After a month of defeat, I began to conclude that one can’t help the helpless.
Less than two weeks later, this individual’s insight improved dramaticallymedicine abated. His family was thrilled. I eventually realized my patient had taught me that “helpless” is no more than an attitude of the health professional providing the treatment.
My approach to the mentally ill was thereafter transformed. With greater understanding of their illness and background my empathy continued to improve. I found myself spending hours at night reading my “Introduction to Psychiatry”, and soon graduated to textbooks on abnormal psychology and biopsychology. Neurobiology, imaging studies, psychopharmacology and behaviours fascinated me. I slowly realized that the patient population I yearned to help was that which had baffled me in a _____ Hospital interview room. Recent experiences have further solidified my decision to enter the field of psychiatry. An elective in outpatient psychiatry in _____ exposed me to a broad range of outpatient settings, including adult and child psychopharmacology, memory and geriatric clinics, crisis services, and addictions focusing on.
I was most captivated by the latter. It was unsettling to witness the enormous detrimental effects of opiate abuse on all aspects of an individual’s life. Managing the inevitable combination of physical, mental and social problems was intellectually challenging and very rewarding.
An elective in inpatient child psychiatry in ______ broadened my exposure beyond that received during my ______ clerkship rotation. An inpatient unit of 25-30 children and adolescents allowed me to witness the intimidating and complex challenges in managing aggressive and behaviourally inappropriate children, along with a spectrum of mood and psychotic disorders. Participating in the care of such severely affected children afforded stimulating insight into the unfavorable home environments within which many children mature, as well as the struggles that some families must endure.
In both electives, I participated in creating practical and hopefully beneficial psychiatric treatments to incomprehensibly complex situations. Whether through medicine, behavioural therapy, family therapy, or a combination thereof, we almost always developed a comprehensive plan that would hopefully result in a positive outcome. These challenges were stimulating and the results wholly satisfying.
I believe I can contribute strongly to the ______ psychiatry residency program through sound patient care, team support, teaching and research.  Empathy, respect for patients and an objective approach to assessment will be paramount principles of my practice. Rather than focusing on out-competing my peers, I strive to mutually enhance our abilities through my strong communication and interpersonal skills. My creativity, enthusiasm and energy will help me develop a teaching style that can inspire medical students, helping to make psychiatry interesting and perhaps even fascinating. In addition, I intend to contribute to psychiatric research particularly in the areas of neurobiology and neurochemistry.
With respect to ______’s program, I have special interest in the Early Psychosis Program, especially after having been involved in the care of individuals severely disabled with schizophrenia, for whom early intervention could possibly have had tremendous benefit. Intrigued by personality disorders, I wish to receive training on the forensic ward and at the penitentiary. Having heard the benefits of programs such as the Bridges Program, I am curious to learn of the interventions involved. I hope to take advantage of the broad and varied learning opportunities in psychiatry within the ______ area.
On a personal note, I enjoy a variety of hobbies. With encouragement from my parents, I began taking cello lessons at the age of five. Involvement in orchestras, quartets, trios, and solo performances brought me satisfaction, joy, and challenges that continue to the present. Participating in competitive volleyball and basketball has taught me the benefits of teamwork and how to be assertive. Three years ago I delved into genealogy and have since made contributions to my family tree, always taking note of the lifestyles, personalities and sacrifices of my ancestors. I have always enjoyed creative writing and currently contribute satirical/comical articles for the Faculty of Medicine quarterly newsletter. I intend to maintain a diverse set of hobbies and extracurricular activities as an adjunct to a demanding psychiatry residency.
My career plans as a psychiatrist involve individual practice, possibly in a subspecialty such as addictions, with a university affiliation allowing for teaching of medical students and residents. I do foresee myself doing a fellowship. With an expanding interest in neurobiology, chemistry and psychopharmacology, I hope to find opportunities for research.
The clerkship psychiatry rotation passes so quickly that we tend not to see the improvements that occur in our patients, leaving many of us with the impression that the mentally ill do not get better. Hence, some clerks are dissuaded from entering this specialty. Stigmas against those afflicted with mental illness, present both in the public and medical communities, do little to counter this perception, despite the significant, ongoing advances and discoveries. It is imperative that the leading cause of disability in the world be better understood, and I endeavor to make it so.
The satisfaction of a positive outcome for a patient is very uplifting regardless of one’s medical specialty. Many of my peers have commented on the almost instant gratification after removing an appendix or relieving a bowel obstruction, leading to sudden relief of a patient’s symptoms. The healing process of a patient with a mental illness is understandably longer. However, the patient-physician relationship that is gradually built over time, combined with an in-depth understanding of the patient as an individual rather than as an illness, can be a mutually rewarding experience as the healing occurs. Engaging in that multifaceted approach to healing, while giving the mentally ill the respect they deserve, is why I want to be a psychiatrist.

Psychiatry Personal Statement #8


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The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a three-step examination for medical licensure in the United States. The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) sponsors USMLE.
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