Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Apr 19, 2002
Durham, NC
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I never considered psychiatry as a potential future career until my psychiatry rotation. I had a blast, loved the material, and got along well with the faculty and residents. However, I spent all 4 weeks on the consult service at the VA. I now know how to diagnose and treat depression and PTSD in 50-to-70 year old men, but not such a good idea of what psychiatry as a whole entails, and whether I'd actually be good at it.

I have the chance to take an early elective for the purpose of career exploration. Do any of you future psychiatrists have advice about which of the following would give me the best idea if psychiatry is right for me?

Modern Psychotherapy: mostly working with patients at the county hospital, pretty good diversity of patients, also getting to attend the Duke Family Studies clinic. Main text will be Bruch's "Learning Psychotherapy"

Neuropsychiatry: seeing patients at the Duke Med Center and Durham VA psychiatry, neurology, and neurosurgery services. emphasis on clinical neuropsychiatric exams, and some psychometric testing and neuroimaging

Clinical Aspects of Alcohol and Drug Abuse: outpatient treatment of substance use disorders: diagnostic evaluation, pharmacological management, and psychotherapy

Thanks for your help!


Your Digital Ruler
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Feb 19, 2003
The innocent shall suffer...big time
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Take the neuropsychiatry rotation. It's the most important and encompassing probably the most informative of the rotations you listed. Psychotherapy and etoh is something you'll learn in residency. But the neuropsych is something you can apply now...and will give you a broader appreciation at the complexity of the interaction between neurology and psychiatry. [Much of] the information obtained there will be important and useful.

Good luck.


Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 1, 2005
I received most of my early psychiatric exposure in a VA facility. It's easy to fall in love with psychiatry at the VA, from the grizzled, stoic WWII vet to the heroin dependent VN vet or traumatized Gulf vet.

The experience that I found most lacking at the VA was a minimal exposure to patients with borderline personality disorder. I'd highly recommend a rotation with a healthy dollop of this dsm iv-tr dx. If you find you enjoy the challenge of working with this patient population (combined with your previous possitive experence at the VA) then you'll likely have a fabulous, fulfilling career in psychiatry.

Best of luck