I’m a little sad. Today we finished our final psychiatry rotation. We had four weeks theory in third year and four weeks practical in fifth, but this year’s rotation was much more amazing.
I was really nervous because we would be doing the rotation at large psychiatric hospitals with very acute patients, and we would also be expected to work alone rather than in groups. But one professor said to us,
“You should be more afraid walking on campus than walking on these hospital grounds. People are unpredictable. Our patients are ill and once you know their illness you can predict them.”
We rotated as follows:
- one week substances and psychogeriatrics
- one week therapeutic wards
- two weeks child and adolescent psychiatry
- two weeks acute and outpatient psychiatry
- (the first week was dedicated to tutorials and other learning opportunities)
I really found the patient contact to be so fulfilling. Even though some patients scared me a little initially, and many made me so sad, it felt good to examine them and to see them get better over time.
I loved the hospitals. Both hospitals are located on large estates. Each ward is in a separate building. There are big lawns and pretty gardens. The one has lush woods and the other has endemic fynbos. Because it is winter, I got to see the sun rise over these estates as I started my days. Walking from one ward to another, I would see guinea fowl and squirrels and cats. And also patients on a walkabout – none of that nonsense where psych patients are stuck inside all day!
I also had such a great experience with the psychiatrists supervising us. They were constantly recommending books – I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon upon their recommendation.
In a lecture on autism spectrum disorders, we watched an episode of The Middle.
In lectures on ADHD we analysed Calvin and Hobbes cartoons.
And once, a tutorial was cancelled for a special treat: the lecturer took our small group for a drumming circle! It had educational worth: drum circles are now widely used in child psychiatry. I have no rhythm but it was such a fun experience.
In one ward round, a consultant asked me what I’m reading at the moment. And he actually appreciated that what I was reading at the time was not medical. He said,
“You know, if you don’t read widely, you will begin to resemble your least favourite professor.”
Also, psychiatric nurses are REALLY nice. I enjoyed working with them and enjoyed working with the allied health professionals as well.
These are my kinds of people. I met maybe one or two psychiatrists that I really didn’t like, but overall it was such a great experience. Psychiatry has made it to one of my top choices for specialising, one day.
But now it’s over. And Internal Medicine starts on Tuesday (long weekend, at least). And I’m trying to think positively, but I’m really not looking forward to seven weeks of suffering.