MyNameIsOtto

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I'm finishing second year and getting ready to go into my lab since I'm MD/PhD. Since I've become bored with most subjects and disillusioned with the medical field in general, I'm trying to keep my motivation up for the road ahead.

The only 2 fields I can see myself in as of right now are psychiatry and pathology - obviously polar opposites. I'm more of an introverted lab-type, so path makes perfect sense. I could probably even be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder if I pursued the issue. However, I don't want my personality to limit my choice in specialty.

My question is, do psychiatrists have to be extroverts who just naturally enjoy/find it easy talking with patients? I'm guessing the answer is no, but I'm also guessing most psych's and psych-to-be's are probably extroverts. It would also be interesting to know if those with social anxiety-issues have still decided to pursue psychiatry? One would assume that over time you'd just adjust?
 

RaistlinMajere

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Actually, I read something about psychiatrists actually being more introverted given that most of the interactions are one-on-one. Personally, I think the personality stuff is overblown. There are good psychiatrists who are extroverts and those who are introverts.
 

sunlioness

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My question is, do psychiatrists have to be extroverts who just naturally enjoy/find it easy talking with patients?
Heh. I hope not. Otherwise I'm screwed. :) (Actually quite a few of us are "introverts" and we do just fine.)
 

erg923

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In the world of clinical psychology, many students who are more introverted "lab types" go into research positions as opposed to clinical work. I have yet to meet a full time therapist who wasn't a bubbly "people person." However, I don't think its a big deal as long as you know and realize that clinical work requires one to have good social skills, and actually enjoy frequent human interaction. Just cause you don't like going out to parties and social gatherings doesn't mean you wouldn't enjoy seeing patients.

I would add that, if you are extremely concerned about you social anxiety issues, seeing a therapist can help. It is a very treatable condition and the literature has shown high success rates for social anxiety D/O, especially using CBT and REBT approaches. Actually from my experience as a clinician, the only thing easer to treat is simple phobias. I would also add experiencing psychotherapy is especially important in this field, because I think it is important to understand the value of what we preach (i.e., emotional catharsis). I also think it is wise to get exposure to psychotherapy to actually feel the inherent power differential that exist in a therapeutic relationship. It's quite humbling actually. Second, its a good place to work on some of your faults in interpersonal communication that might emerge during your interactions with clients.
 

OldPsychDoc

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...Just cause you don't like going out to parties and social gatherings doesn't mean you wouldn't enjoy seeing patients.

I have to agree--OPD here is a real bore at parties (unless someone else gets him started talking about something he knows well). I don't do small talk well, and usually would not be found initiating socially. In an earlier life I left an academic counselling job because it involved way too much "cruise director" activity--trying to make other people have a good time.

It's very different when a patient is coming to you as a doctor and you are applying your skills to assist them in a problem-solving kind of role. You do still need reasonable social skills, the ability to gauge non-verbal responses, etc. (Autistic spectrum disorders are probably a contraindication...) It also helps a lot if you WANT to understand people. If you're a wallflower at parties, it could just mean that you're really good at observing what's going on--and that's a huge plus in our business. Being introverted doesn't mean you're bad at this stuff--it may just mean you don't feel the need to display yourself all the time. Having a quiet manner can be seen as a major asset, as long as you're assertive enough to get things done.

I work on a hospital staff of 11. I think only three of my colleagues would identify as extroverts. All 11 (oh OK, maybe 10 ;)) have good people skills in their own right, and are well thought of as team leaders and doctors, regardless of their personality type.
 

Faebinder

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Hmm... I am the master of small talk but I do agree, psych is a mixed bag and you'll find both types.
 

Doc Samson

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Yeah, I also have a problem with small talk. I just can't talk about "nothing." I'd never have worked as a character on Seinfeld.

The psychiatry personality stereotype that annoys me the most is the super-passive "lets all get along" milquetoast. There's plenty of room in psychiatry for the (appropriately) aggressive, no-BS, straight talkers among us (especially in CL) and it always puts a smile on my face when an unsuspecting surgeon seems shocked that a psychiatrist is standing up to him.

OPD - glad to see the return of The Brain.
 

whopper

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I've seen very different personality types do well as clinical psychiatrists. Introvert or Extrovert, I've seen both types do well.

I think caring, knowledge & commitment are more important than the personality factor
 
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MyNameIsOtto

MyNameIsOtto

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Thanks for all the replies guys...

Glad to know there's a spectrum of personalities in the field.
 

Ritz

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Aggressive Only will survive- lot of poeple have taken up arms against Psychiatry..! Have the charm and energy of hypomania and critical .....to a little extent of a paranoid Schizophrenic:rolleyes:
BTW opd surely is a favorite !


Yeah, I also have a problem with small talk. I just can't talk about "nothing." I'd never have worked as a character on Seinfeld.

The psychiatry personality stereotype that annoys me the most is the super-passive "lets all get along" milquetoast. There's plenty of room in psychiatry for the (appropriately) aggressive, no-BS, straight talkers among us (especially in CL) and it always puts a smile on my face when an unsuspecting surgeon seems shocked that a psychiatrist is standing up to him.

OPD - glad to see the return of The Brain.
 

DrWuStar

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I meet the DSM criteria for social anxiety DO. I would say it's pretty mild on the spectrum, as I get through life just fine. But yeah, I'm really uncomfortable in big groups, small talk situations, public speaking situations, and actually even having to speak during rounds at the hospital sometimes. I've never sought formal treatment, but some do-it-yourself CBT (The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns) and the occassional beta-blocker have helped some.

Anyway, I'm starting psych residency this summer, and I think I'm actually going to make a great psychiatrist. I do a lot better one-on-one than in group situations, and I think there is a lot of value in not talking a lot but making the words you do choose to put out there meaningful. I also think that having experienced the kind of anxiety that takes your breath away can make one more empathic towards patients going through similar things.