It’s hard to believe but it’s time for another rotation wrap up! I finished my behavioral health/psychiatry rotation for Physician Assistant school a couple weeks ago and am ready to share what I liked, what I didn’t, and what resources helped me!
What I liked
Behavior health isn’t for everyone but everyone is going to have to deal with behavioral health patients at some point or another in their clinical practice. I can honestly say that I have had patients with some sort of behavioral health complaint on every single rotation so far, so if psych isn’t your jam (spoiler – it’s not mine), embracing your psych rotation is important because you’re going to use the things you learn. Some things that I enjoyed:
- In psychiatry/behavior health it’s all about talking with your patients. I am someone who truly enjoys listening to other people’s stories. And bot did some of my patients have stories!
- Sometimes you are actually able to identify a medical cause for their symptoms which. It’s nice to be able to give them answers.
- The changes in people once the right treatment is optimized is profound. Seeing someone come out of a deep depression and enjoying life again is extremely rewarding.
- I worked with military members and their families. Helping the men and women who serve us deal with their behavior health issues was a real privilege.
What I Didn’t Like
Psych is not my jam. While I tried to make the most out of it I could tell that this was not the specialty for me. And that’s ok to feel that way about a rotation. Finding your “home” in medicine is important! You want to feel inspired and excited to go to work each day. I didn’t feel inspired and while I enjoyed the people I worked with I didn’t enjoy the actual work every day. Some of the cons for me:
- I didn’t get to use my hands. I have found that I really enjoy doing procedures and I never even used my stethoscope.
- Some of the patients made me uncomfortable. It’s hard to keep a straight face and be supportive with some of the stories I was hearing.
- It was draining. Hearing about other people’s problems all day was emotionally taxing.
- It was slow. I like the pace of the ER or a busy practice and I saw 6-7 patients a day for long appointment times.
- I was never moving. Because the appointments were long and there weren’t many of them I found myself sedentary most of the day which is hard for me.
Resources I liked
- First Aid for the Psychiatry Clerkship – loved this book and used it a lot especially when studying for my EOR.
- Physician Assistant Exam Review – great comprehensive review and hits everything on the PANCE blueprint
- PANCE Prep Pearls – quickly becoming one of my favorite books, the PANCE Prep Pearls laid out the psychiatric illnesses in ways I understood and remembered
- Interview Guide for DSM-V Psychiatric Disorders – if you’re not sure how to interview a psych patient this is a great book of questions! It definitely opened my mind and broadened my perspective.
- Behavior Health EOR Blueprint – great list of things to study!
Pointers for Psych Rotation
- Go into it open reminded. Soak up everything you can. You will use it at some point so you might as well learn it!
- Put your listening ears on. Your patients will tell you what you need to hear and you can tailor your questions accordingly.
- Figuring out the right questions to ask can be hard. Watch how your preceptor does it.
- Wear a smile. You have no idea how much a friendly face can help someone when they are feeling down. Smiling releases endorphins in your brain that work a lot like some of the psychotropic medications. Smiling has been shown to truly be contagious so when you smile you might help your patient smile too so they can reap a little bit of those benefits 😉
Want to check out my other rotation wrap ups?