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We are inviting doctors to share their experience of five working days. We want to help break down barriers within the profession and tackle some widely held views and myths about the different specialties. First up is London consultant in old-age psychiatry Jonathan Hare, who describes what drew him to psychiatry. Each day this week on the blog he will relate his experiences at work.
I’m a greying 46-year-old age psychiatrist working in north London. I've been a consultant 12 years now and look after a community patch, an in-patient ward and memory assessment service.
My friends from medical school tell me they always knew I was going to be a psychiatrist, but although I liked the attachment very much, I thought psychiatrists were a bit strange. Now, I think they're no more strange than any other doctor; but their range of what they consider ‘normal’ is probably wider than most peoples.
I had a great time at the best medical school in the world (Guy’s) and decided I wanted to get MRCP then decide what to do after that. However, after doing a year of house jobs (1:3 surgery and 1:4 medicine), I turned my back on the MRCP and decided to be a GP.
I was lucky enough to land the Royal Free vocational training scheme and did my hospital jobs and some general practice. But at that time fundholding GPs were coming in and my two GP trainers hated it, and this rubbed off on me.
I had loved my six months psychiatry as part of the VTS and I decided to jump ship into psychiatry. I was doing paeds at the time and the then professor took me to one side and said: ‘Damn it man, you're good. You're throwing away a medical career going into psychiatry. For heaven's sake, general practice is bad enough, but psychiatry is the lowest of the low’. He was not the only one to hold that view. My mother-in-law was also not keen, but she just thought I would go mad. To be honest, I think she still thinks this.
Anyway, I loved psychiatry. It seemed to like me and I progressed up the rungs relatively smoothly. A word of advice to current core trainees; be careful when going out for the evening with mental health nurses - I have never known a group of individuals to party as hard.
Looking back, I'm the child of older parents and have always been comfortable talking to older people. I love listening to life histories. I'd done geriatrics too as an SHO and this helped with managing older confused people. So I fell into old age psychiatry and never looked back. If psychiatry is stigmatised within medicine, then old age psychiatry is the Cinderella specialty of psychiatry.
We always seem to lose out to general psychiatry when it comes to the cuts. I remember thinking when our dementia ward closed that if it had been a paeds ward we would probably have made it to the front page of the Daily Mail. As it was we couldn't make it onto page seven of our local free paper.
There are great things about working in old age psychiatry though; the team around me are marvellous, the patients are often extremely grateful for even very small amounts of help and it is never dull. Psychiatry is all about hearing people's stories and listening to what they tell me is important. My week is all about the people I see.
Day 1 Distant memory of parking freedom
Day 2 Why the computer and I will never be friends
Day 3 The woman who says it with knives
Day 4 Familiar faces and extraordinary cases
Day 5 The mixed blessing of attentive relatives
Could you describe your work to other doctors? Contact [email protected] for details.
Working as SHO to Dr Hare and the other consultants was one of the best moments of my career and life. I was convinced that I had found my love in psychiatry until I fell into general practice. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
Dr Hare is a real inspiration.He's one of the kindest, most understanding and caring doctors one could hope to meet. I was lucky to have him as a TPD.
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Thanks for sharing. This is nice blog.
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doctors life is very tough. they always busy with the patient.
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