I would be lying if I said I was excited about this clerkship. I mean, there’s a reason I put it at the end (no call, light hours). Psychiatry was one specialty I knew even before beginning medical school that I did not want to do. My mother is a psychologist so I had seen and heard enough to make that decision. However, as I watched my attending interview patients (and their parents in the case of the children), I found a new appreciation for the specialty and for my role as a parent of a healthy child.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a little about some frustration I was having with Kayle and how I had to remind myself that she’s just a toddler. As I watched parents express their frustrations with the behavior of their children, I was even more thankful for what I have.
The first child I saw today has Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) for which the current medication is not working very well. The child was very sweet but could not sit still. She fidgeted and was in and out of her seat, she wanted to leave the room a number of times to go to the scale and weigh herself, she asked my colleague and myself our names 3 times each, and she pointed out all the things she liked about the 2 of us (hair, clothes, shoes – my kind of girl!). It was nice to see that despite all of this, she appeared to have a good relationship with her mother. The mother included her in the interview, and even when she did things that may not have been appropriate, her mother took it all in stride.
In contrast, I saw another child with autism whose parents were having a very difficult time with him due to his aggressive behavior. I could tell that his parents loved him very much as they were working very hard to get him all the services that he needed but they were obviously quite frustrated and reaching the end of their rope. I’m sure the fact that he has severe intellectual disabilities and poor speaking abilities makes it difficult for them to connect with him in the same manner in which the previous mother and child do.
Children are very demanding which adds to both the joys and pains of parenthood. Everyday I’m thankful for the health of my child, physically, emotionally, and mentally. I’m glad that I can have a good relationship with her and communicate effectively with her. I also tip my hat to the parent’s and families of children with intellectual disabilities. Today served as only a small glimpse into a tiny part of their lives and I appreciate their openness and willingness to share that with me. I definitely have a new appreciation for where I am in life.
And today was only day 1!
I spend tomorrow and next week in outpatient psychiatry, then I move onto inpatient psychiatry for the remainder of the clerkship. I’m actually quite excited and looking forward to learning more about mental health issues as I continue on for the next 5 weeks.
Psychiatry isn’t too bad after all!