On a good week (or the beginning of Inpatient Psych)

I am surprised by how much I enjoy myself on the inpatient psych unit. Perhaps it is the difference I notice between my first time around the block and now. Perhaps it is because I am honing the skills that will directly transfer to my own professional practice as a psychiatrist. Or perhaps it is because I am taking good care of myself.

This time around the psych unit, I am rotating with the same attending physician from third year. A few more flecks of white in his bushy beard, and he seems more confident in himself as a physician and teacher. He immediately assigned me interesting patients and trusted me to do what I needed to do, based on our history together.

The atmosphere on the floor feels lighter. I’m not sure if that’s my own lens or if that’s the vibe of the patients, nurses, and techs roaming the halls. Word on the street is that there was a big round of departures from the floor, so the staff there either want to be there or are new enough that they are willing to learn.

And maybe it’s because I have a place outside of the cramped nurse’s station to write my notes: there’s a new student lounge right next to the inpatient unit. Now, I can listen to music without my shoes on while I read up on my patients, or I can lay down and breathe to ground back into myself after a particularly draining patient encounter.

And perhaps I just feel like I have a voice on the floor. On Thursday and Friday, I sat through three different family meetings, each one lasting over an hour. One with an interpreter, one over the phone, and another in person. All three had the chance to go south quite quickly, with triggers all over the verbal landscape that might spiral the patient right as they are about to leave the unit.

During these meetings, I felt like I had enough knowledge of the patient and their characters that I could speak up during the meetings when things were making a turn for the worse. And during these meetings, I felt like my interventions landed well and changed the conversations for the better. Not only am I earning the knowledge of a doctor, but I am developing the confidence of one.

And finally, the inpatient psych life allows me late mornings, long lunches, and early dismissal when compared to my classmates. I’m able to walk Honey every morning and play with her when I return from clinic. I have been sneaking into the gym for a training session during my lunch. I have been eating well thanks to a meal prep service that caters to athletes. I have been moving often and caring for my body every day.

It’s only the first week of my eight on the inpatient psych floors: this month with adults, next month with children. Maybe my tune will change as this month continues on, or as I rotate downstairs with the pediatric unit.

For now, things are good.


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