My psychiatry rotation was pretty interesting, to say the least. Side note: If you’ve noticed in my previous posts, I don’t go into detail about patients and what I see on rotations. This is for patient privacy. These blog posts are meant to be an outlook on different specialties of medicine from the perspective of a student!
But back to my psych rotation! It was an inpatient psychiatry rotation at two different psych hospitals. Psych hospitals are a bit different from medical hospitals. The layout is different, the patients are not bedridden, and you can’t leave the units without a code or a badge. Between the two different hospitals I worked at, I saw children, adolescents, adults, and geriatrics. It was pretty cool to be able to get to see all of the different age groups and the psych disorders that are prevalent in each age group.
Discovering Your Specialty
I loved talking to patients and diagnosing psychiatric disorders. I find psychiatry so incredibly interesting (and so important). However, I am slowly and surely narrowing down which specialties aren’t for me, and psych just isn’t for me. For different reasons than one would normally think. After coming off of family medicine and surgery, I was used to running around the hospital and constantly being on my feet. Psychiatry is not like that. I didn’t realize how much I loved being on my feet and moving around until I had a rotation that was primarily sitting and talking to patients. Treatment is more adjusting medications rather than using your hands and stethoscope for a physical diagnosis and hands on treatment. I do love psychology, but I want a career that is more hands on and physically active.
The Mental Health Stigma
In recent years, there has been an increased awareness for the importance of mental health. Psych disorders have always had such a negative stigma and really prevent people from getting the proper treatment that they need. Schizophrenia and Biploar Disorder sounds scary and life altering. The reality is that these medical conditions can be treated with medication and therapy allowing the patients to lead relatively normal lives.
Even if you’re not diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, maintaining your own personal mental health is still so important. Mental health influences all other areas of health. Throughout my rotation I did learn a lot of great exercises to improve your outlook on life and calm your nerves during times of anxiety.
Studying for the Psychiatry Shelf Exam
Know your psych drugs. Time to bring back ole’ SketcyPharm. I honestly remember almost everything from SketchyPharm still to this day. If you read any of my other posts, you all know how big a fan I am of SketchyMedical! Also, definitely know the DMS-V criteria for all of the psych disorders. If you remember most of the stuff from the Psych section in First Aid, you will be good. Also, it might be a good idea to know the specific names for the tests that you would do for ADHD, depression, etc. I had three questions on my shelf about this… some people have none, so it’s really a gamble. Other than that, I used the same resources that I have been using to study for the other shelf exams.
Online MedEd – A free video resource.
SketchyPharm – The hands down best resource for medical students.
COMBANK – A good q-bank for COMAT exams. U-world is great as well, but I haven’t purchased it yet for Step 2.
Up-to-Date – My favorite point-of-care resource. Very expensive, but I have a subscription through my school!
Check out my other clerkship rotation posts here!