reflections on rotations: psychiatry

As a little something for myself, and hopefully to help others, I thought I would take the time to reflect back on rotations once they are done, to review my feelings overall and share what helped me the most. Since I’m starting halfway through my third year, over the next few weeks I’ll catch up by adding rotations I’ve already completed. I JUST finished this one, though, so here we go!

Psychiatry: My school refers to this rotation as “Psychation”. Which it was, to an extent.

The people: It’s a vacation from rude residents and harsh overbearing attendings. Everyone in our department was very kind (although everyone had their quirks). I enjoyed working with these teams infinitely more than other departments.

The patients: This was hard for me to handle. I did not do a very good job of leaving my work day “at work”, as they say. On days where we interviewed a lot of patients with really tough stories and lives, I would go home and just feel sad. It’s crushing sometimes that we can help these people so little.

The workload: Much, much better than any other rotation, INCLUDING outpatient Family Medicine. I loved this part of it. (But hey, maybe I’m too lazy for my own good.)

The Shelf: Rumored to be the easiest of all standardized shelf exams, I only studied for this one for two weeks. Whether or not it bit me in the ass, I’m not sure yet — I’ll let you know when we get our scores back! What I found helpful in studying was…

  • First Aid for the Psychiatry Clerkship — it still goes by DSM IV, but there were no differences that were TOO drastic. As far as I know, the shelves this year are not messing with you when it comes to the differences between DSM IV and DSM V.
  • UT Shelf Review Video — I probably rewatched three times the week before the shelf.
  • MedEd Psychiatry Videos — especially the pharmacology and pediatric videos.
  • USMLEWorld Qbank — these questions are ridiculously easier than the actual shelf, which ticked me off. Damn you, qbank!!
  • Practice shelf exams


Would I do this when I grow up? Nah. While I enjoyed seeing something completely different everyday, and the niceness of the teams… I didn’t enjoy interacting with the patients all that much. Histories are a pain in the butt to get, non-compliance is sky high, and there’s only so much you can do for these patients. It broke my heart every day, which I don’t think I could handle.

Have you done a psychiatry clerkship at your school recently? What were your experiences like?

5 thoughts on “reflections on rotations: psychiatry

  1. I’m a third year medical student too and I’ve been trying to keep track of my rotations as well! I’ve done psych, fam med, gen surg, and peds so far. What What what rotations do you have left?

    Psychiatry was my first rotation. And while I enjoyed it, I also brought my work home with me. I visited the state’s nursing home for psych patients and the two days I was there…I was so exhausted just from my mind racing around. It also bothered me that most of what we learned the first two years in medical school was tossed to the wayside. I missed actually touching the patients/doing physical exams.


  2. Pingback: reflections on rotations: psychiatry | Imaginary World

  3. I worked for a year doing elderly psychiatry In the North of England. I really enjoyed seeing patients with dementia and paraphrenia et al, but I HATED the on calls. Most adult “psychiatry” is nothing of the sort; it’s largely drug dependence, social isolation and personality disorders, I just had the wrong temperament for it.

    Another thing that I found with psychiatry is that we would sit around and argue about whether the patient had schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder or psychotic depression. We’d sit and discuss it for ages, and at the end of it, we’d prescribe the same antipsychotic medication anyway.

    Best wishes



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