Job Title: Child Psychiatrist
Type of Company: I now work in solo private practice seeing kids and adults for medication and therapy.
Education: B.A. in Social Anthropology, Harvard University M.D., University of California - San Francisco Medical School Adult Psychiatry residency, Cambridge Health Alliance Child Psychiatry Residency, Cambridge Health Alliance
Previous Experience: Since finishing my training I have worked in private practice and at a university counseling center for students
Job Tasks: I spend most of my day at my office seeing patients. My patients range in age from 3 years old to people in their sixties. I follow people long-term and see some patients weekly, others monthly or every few months. I do a variety of clinical work, from prescribing psychotropic medications, doing parent guidance, play therapy, coupes therapy, or individual psychotherapy. A couple of times a week I meet colleagues for formal or informal supervision, and three hours a week I spend at the hospital I trained at teaching residents and fellows about child psychiatry. I also do some writing and lecturing, both at the hospital training program, and at conferences at other institutions.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: What I like best about my job is getting to know my patients. I am very fortunate in that I get to practice medicine and psychiatry the way I think it should be practiced, with minimal interference from insurance companies. I get to see kid and families get better, and I see children thrive who once were struggling. I also love that practicing psychiatry, particularly doing therapy, gives me insight into both human experience in general, and my particular personality in ways that enrich my life and make me a better person. In order to do my job well, I have to know myself well, so I am constantly examining myself, learning to be a better person, and learning how to take care of myself.
My least favorite part of my job is that it can be very emotionally draining at times, and I find I need a lot of rest (more emotional than physical) to recharge and stay enthusiastic.
Job Tips: Working in the mental health field can be approached from many different career paths. It is very nice to be at the place I am in my career now, and I truly love what I do. I have more options and make better money as a doctor than I would have as a psychologist or social worker. I also think I have a unique and integrative perspective having a medical background. On the other hand, medical school and residency were truly grueling, miserable experiences at times, and I'm not honestly sure I can recommend them to anyone. If I had it to do over again, I would probably do the same thing, but I'm not completely sure.
Additional Thoughts: This may sound strange and too personal, but I would actually recommend any women considering medicine to consider freezing some of their eggs while young. Medical training is long and grueling, and if you don't happen to meet your partner in medical school or training, it can be a long time before you're ready to have kids. Many of my female friends ended up having fertility problems, which can be devastating, because they didn't start trying to have kids until their late 30's.
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