“I am most grateful for being able to work with colleagues and patients who challenge me to think out of the box and beyond the traditional paternalistic doctor-patient paradigm.”
What was your path to becoming a psychiatrist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
Some would consider my path to psychiatry circuitous, as I trained and worked as a pediatrician for six years before pursuing a career in mental health. That experience led me to appreciate how pervasive mental health issues were and how lacking my own skills were in being able to effect meaningful change. Psychiatric training helped to fill in my knowledge gaps, though it left me with more questions than answers. There is still so much we don't know about how the brain and mind function, but being able to distill some of this knowledge in an accessible and relatable way through clinical work has been incredibly rewarding. I am most grateful for being able to work with colleagues and patients who challenge me to think out of the box and beyond the traditional paternalistic doctor-patient paradigm.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
Working with me is a collaborative process, and communication is key. I consider myself to be thoughtful and conscientious, and I take time to appreciate all aspects of an individual’s life and circumstances before reaching any decision on treatment. My initial intake for new patients is two hours long, not including time spent communicating with other providers and people in the client’s treatment team or family. Establishing a set of initial goals allows clients to articulate what they're looking for and helps guide our treatment, if not help to manage expectations. Making connections for clients between their physical and mental health is also crucial to providing complete and comprehensive care. To ignore sleep, hygiene, exercise, nutrition, or wellness is like shooting yourself in the foot. Nothing I can prescribe can be as supportive or effective without taking these into account.
How does collaboration with other providers play into your work?
I truly believe that working together, maintaining open lines of communication, and being accessible to other team members are all fundamental to a client’s success. It really does take a village. There are times when, as a psychiatrist, I may not necessarily understand certain nuances or appreciate areas of potential conflict or resistance. But the client’s therapist might, and for me to listen to their insights can only make my job easier.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care?
Aside from cost and finding an available provider, the biggest barrier that prevents people from seeking care is acknowledging that they are struggling and deserve to feel better.
What excites you most about the evolving mental health landscape?
I’m encouraged by the increasing awareness of how prevalent and debilitating mental illness is, especially as portrayed in social media. People are starting to pay attention and recognize that many of these issues begin in childhood and may be intergenerational, as with trauma. From a medication standpoint, I’m intrigued by research using psychedelics and ketamine to address PTSD and treatment resistance or suicidality. Much of this work is still in its early days, but it represents a new path forward, especially for those who do not respond to medications that are currently available.
“I believe that working together, maintaining open lines of communication, and being accessible to other team members are all fundamental to a client’s success.”