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Residency in Psychiatry, Pharmacology

I was not looking forward to my rotation in the psychiatric ward and regarded this as only as a necessary obstacle that I had to surmount in order to qualify as a doctor. However I became fascinated with the patients, their conditions and treatments. I soon realized that every patient was person who had goals and hopes a person who had a family and friends who loved them and anxiously awaited them to emerge from the mental ‘maze’ in which they found themselves. My apprehension was replaced with empathy, sympathy and a longing to be of some help.

 Following my internship, I worked in the medicine department of a missionary hospital. There was no psychiatric department and our department was responsible for dealing with psychiatric patients. The cases we handled were not extreme, being mainly fairly mild depressive conditions, but I was involved in counseling some of these patients and found enormous satisfaction in doing so. I also identified psychiatric illness in, apparently routine, ER patients on several occasions by careful observation. When counseling, I learned that understanding and responding to non-verbal signals is a very important skill in dealing with distressed patients and is one that I naturally possess and hope to develop further. I have always sought to care about my patients as well as caring for them and I believe that this is especially important in psychiatry.

 Ultimately, I hope to be involved in research and teaching. With this in mind, I joined an MD program in Pharmacology and I had started a thesis project in psychiatry when I obtained permission to enter the US. The study related to the efficacy and safety of Tianeptine compared to Sertraline for treatment of major depressive disorder. My work also involved the study of phsycopharmacology and I began to think back to my internship work with psychiatric patients and my interest in psychiatry was re-fired. Once in the US, I considered my choices carefully and decided to pursue psychiatry rather than pharmacology.

 One great difference between psychiatry in India and the US is that it is rare to see dementia patients in India. In my culture, the family generally takes full responsibility for the care of their elderly, dementia sufferers are indulged and cherished in a familiar environment and medical intervention is sought only in extreme cases. In the US the situation is very different and the effects of aging constitute a growing challenge as the elderly grow in numbers and as a proportion of the population. Their problems being compounded by the fact that they often find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings once they lose their ability to care for themselves. Psychiatry has a great and growing responsibility in this area of work and is one that greatly interests me.

 I realize that understanding the cultural background of a psychiatric patient can hardly be overstated. I have worked and studied with people of many cultural and social backgrounds and am eager to extend these experiences and familiarize myself with cultures that are new to me.

 I am aware that there will be many well qualified applicants for residencies in this fascinating specialty. However I believe that I am an exceptional candidate. I am diligent, intelligent with a capacity for hard work; I have substantial experience of providing medical care, including the counseling and identification of psychiatric patients, in a hospital setting; I have carefully prepared myself for the program, having been an ‘observer’ in US hospitals. However my main recommendation is a passion for psychiatry that I look forward to demonstrating in the program.

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