Scutmonkey Chronicles

Commentary on healthcare in general, life as a medical student, and issues of concern thereof. Readers warmly encouraged to contribute their "best" and "worst" experiences with the healthcare system (who knows, some budding young doctor might learn something from your pain...?) Submit via comments section, or email me at if you'd like to become a regular contributor. Welcome, and don't forget to double-glove!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Every Rose Has Its Thorns

Ah, psych...a pretty intriguing and plush rotation when compared with the others I've done so far. For human interest and humane hours, it can't be beat. The residents and attendings I've interacted with thus far are smart and decent. Refugees from other specialties come every week to check out the program and consider switching over to the psych-side.

So of course, one is tempted to consider this as a chosen specialty. And yet...

For every positive outcome I've seen take place, there are six or seven or fifty patients hanging around the day room without a seeming hope of improvement. Some get worse and not better under our care. Not even the positive changes can be wholly attributed to the profession.

Then again, are positive changes in any specialty ever wholly under control of the medical staff? Isn't there always an element of spirit, fate, luck, or whatever you prefer to call it, to healing? And don't psychiatric patients, possessing of a positive prognosis or not, deserve our best attempt at care?

As far as I can tell, to be both a good and a fulfilled psychiatrist, you would have to be not only tolerant of ambiguity but be able to thrive in a sea of it. One online test I have taken designed to match future specialty to med student personalities told me that I might be such a person ( , I would recommend this whatever specialty you think you're destined for...)

Then again, after nearly a month of this, an argument against choosing psych has emerged, and it goes like this: Why not head toward something like family med, where you interact mainly with highly functional patients, problems like hypercholesterolemia can more or less be brought under control by the numbers, and the vast majority of patients get better?

We shall see...


At 19 October, 2005 15:19, Blogger Axelotl said...

In answer to your question " Why not....?"... I would think it has a lot to do with the fact that you help a group of people who need you MUCH MORE. No need to to things the easy way. It's much more gratifying to success at something difficult.
CHeers, and a lot of positiveness to you!

At 20 October, 2005 14:06, Blogger Grace O'Malley said...

Thanks, axelotl! You in the good fight in some capacity? Have a blog to check out?

Positive vibes to you as well :)

At 29 October, 2005 13:51, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd just like to state that there are some specialties that don't have a great outcome percentage. Oncology, Psychiatry, Geriatrics. However, these specialists are much needed and should be highly regarded. After all, imagine....who will fight for you when you are afflicted with a condition that has little chance of recovery? But a chance nonetheless.


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