With this issue of AACAP News we launch a new regular feature, Mentorship Matters. This component seeks to highlight the experiences of anyone involved in this crucial developmental process, and we are pleased to inaugurate it with the reflections of a first year medical student. We encourage submissions regarding your own experiences and especially welcome descriptions of novel programs designed to foster mentorship, or contributions from trainees and medical students.
Andrés Martin. M.D., M.P.H.
Susan Milam Miller, M.D.
Dr. Martin is with the Yale Child Study Center, New Haven, Connecticut; he can
be reached at Andres.Martin@Yale.edu.
Dr. Milam Miller is a second-year Child Psychiatry resident at the University of California Davis, Sacramento, California; she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Drs. Martin and Milam Miller are part of the Medical Student, Resident and Early Career
Psychiatrist (MSRECP) Committee of the Academy.
Medical Students Count (and How!)
As a medical student, the opportunity to attend the AACAP annual meeting in Toronto this past year was truly a wonderful means to learn about professional research and career opportunities as a child psychiatrist, and most importantly, to meet and network with child psychiatrists.
Over the week of stimulating events and activities, the most memorable, formative experience for me was the newly formed AACAP Mentorship Program. As part of the group under the leadership of Drs. Andrés Martin (Yale University School of Medicine) and Susan Milam Miller (University of California, Davis), I was truly able to gain a unique “insider’s” perspective to the field through interacting with a diverse group of current residents, fellows, academics, and clinicians. Our daily morning and afternoon cozy gatherings were certainly the highlight of my meeting experience (a special thank you goes here to Dr. Bennett Leventhal, University of Illinois, for generously making his personal suite available to our group for these sequestered gatherings of academic and personal intensity). The fact that group members were child psychiatrists who were relatively early in their careers (or just about to embark on their careers) created a lively atmosphere for our animated conversations. Through sharing our own professional aspirations with each other, we began to jointly chart a future vision for child psychiatry.
As a medical student who had often received conflicting information about child psychiatry from many physicians, I truly valued the opportunity to be engaged in substantial discussions about why members of the group had chosen to commit themselves to a career in this field. When Drs. Martin and Miller requested one morning that I present my recent forays into child psychiatry, I appreciated the chance to share my early medical school clinical research experiences with the group. Group members challenged and inspired me to ask novel research questions and advised me on how I may pursue my interests in child psychiatry in medical school. Their years of clinical, academic, and research experience in the field, coupled with the small group structure of the mentorship program provided the ideal forum for me as a student to really understand what it means to be a child psychiatrist. The insightful daily discussions exposed me to the entire gamut of current issues facing pediatric mental health, including future trajectories for psychiatric research, opportunities in clinical psychiatry, and more generally, the future of child psychiatry within American healthcare.
Having come to the Academy meeting to present my research in pediatric asthma with my mentor Dr. Greg Fritz (Brown Medical School) through the Jeanne Spurlock Clinical Fellowship for Minority Medical Students, I was initially unsure about the role and opportunities for medical students at the Academy meeting. Dr. Fritz had told me the Academy was unique through its “student-centered” approach. Little did I know how student-centered the Academy would be!
The mentorship program provides a collaborative venue for substantial conversations and mentoring to occur through bringing together child psychiatrists at various stages of professional development. This inherent structure of the program fosters innovative and creative interdisciplinary thinking as each member of the group comes to the table with a different set of current experiences and views, shaped by whether they are a clinician, researcher, administrator, resident, or fellow.
The opportunity to actively participate in the Academy through the Spurlock Fellowship and AACAP mentorship program has allowed me to increase my collaboration with mentors in the field of child psychiatry and more broadly, explore various clinical and research aspects of the field. Hence, I am now seriously considering a future career within child psychiatry as a clinician-researcher. The Academy experience proved to be an invaluable venue to learn about the field of child psychiatry, to further my professional and academic development, and to form lasting future professional relationships with students and child psychiatrists.
Mr. Venkatesh is a first year medical student at the Brown School of Medicine, Providence, Rhode Island; he can be reached at mailto:Kartik_Venkatesh@brown.edu