eurydicejacque

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Hi everyone,

I am a premed applying to medical schools for this application cycle.

So I want to go into medicine, because I want to become a psychiatrist.

I know that you have to like science if you want to be happy in medicine, but for me, I'm more interested in working with the intangible issues that people with mind disorders face. And I want to help them in the most holistic way possible, which would require addressing both mental and physical aspects.

How could I explain this to medical schools when they ask the 'why medicine' question?

Is there anything wrong with answering, 'I want to become a doctor, because I want to become a psychiatrist'?
 

sideways

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Pragmatism and strategy trumps honesty in the medical school admissions game. First of all, don't mention any primary specialty interest, let alone psych. Instead tell them that:

I'm open to the challenging experience that medical school is sure to provide and don't want to go in with any preconceived bias. I realize how little I actually know about the intricacies of each specialty and to make a declaration about which one I want to pursue now would be premature and naive. The only thing I'm certain of is that I have a genuine interest in science and a passion for applying that hard-earned knowledge towards alleviating the suffering of my fellow man.


You could follow it with:

But to answer your question, sure I have interests (at this point there's no harm in mentioning psych, but include some other contrasting specialties: pediatrics, emergency medicine, family practice), but again, at this stage of my career, I'm hanging my hat on nothing.
 

loveoforganic

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Sounds about right. Unless you're a nontrad with extensive psych experience as a nurse or pa or something, you're probably going to come across as naive if you're dead set on a specialty.
 
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eurydicejacque

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It's too bad that the only way to really find out what psychiatry is like is to actually become one or start off in a related career.

Thanks for the responses!
 

sunlioness

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I don't think there's any harm in talking about wanting to take care of the whole person; mind, body and spirit. Only if you do so, I might be sure to mention that you wish to do so from an evidence-based perspective.
 

loveoforganic

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In that same vein, holistic treatment applies to much more than psychiatry. The mind doesn't only have an impact on itself - there's plenty of literature on psychoneuroimmunology, stress effects on cardiophysiology, etc., not to mention that most fields in medicine will give you the opportunity to apply behavior change techniques, if you so choose.
 

Suenya

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Hi everyone,

I am a premed applying to medical schools for this application cycle.

So I want to go into medicine, because I want to become a psychiatrist.

I know that you have to like science if you want to be happy in medicine, but for me, I'm more interested in working with the intangible issues that people with mind disorders face. And I want to help them in the most holistic way possible, which would require addressing both mental and physical aspects.

How could I explain this to medical schools when they ask the 'why medicine' question?

Is there anything wrong with answering, 'I want to become a doctor, because I want to become a psychiatrist'?
Aside from the mind and body as an integrated whole, I'm not sure what you mean by physical aspects. Psychiatrists (outside of their internship) rarely treat what you'd call physical problems (insofar as you separate physical from mental).

Anyway, as someone PROBABLY going into psych, I told them that I was interested by each thing as I learned more, but that my primary interest was child psychiatry. Since my research and other jobs have all been psych related, I think it would have looked odd if I didn't. For what it's worth, all the interviewers that asked me except for one, seemed to think it was a major plus, and talked about the vast needs in "location of school or nearby city" for more psych.
 
Last edited:

billypilgrim37

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Look for the aspects of psychiatry that are similar to other medical specialties, and focus on those. When I went to med school, I figured I'd be some sort of IM specialty, most likely an oncologist or an endocrinologist. I knew I was interested in managing chronic disease, having continuity of care and relationships that could last over time, and working to improving quality of life instead of "fixing" things. Those are examples of things that are very applicable to psychiatry but also to large swaths of medicine as well.

Also recognize that "holistic" treatment usually means "goofy crap off the internet" when you seem to just be implying that you're interested in comprehensive biopsychosocial treatment plans.
 

sunlioness

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Also recognize that "holistic" treatment usually means "goofy crap off the internet" when you seem to just be implying that you're interested in comprehensive biopsychosocial treatment plans.
Agreed. Which is why I also said to be sure to mention even if you are interested in alternative/complementary/holistic treatments to specify only the evidenced-based ones. Because there is a lot of wacky stuff out there in mental health land; a lot of it being done by licensed providers who really ought to know better.
 

Manicsleep

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I would be very careful about what you say about science because you do have to know quite a bit of it and it is expected that you have a solid ability to understand science.

The other thing about not liking science is to be careful about what you are getting yourself into. Medicine is becoming more evidence based and science oriented every day. You may not like the landscape when you come out 10 years or so from now.
 

baller99

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Jul 1, 2008
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Hi everyone,

I am a premed applying to medical schools for this application cycle.

So I want to go into medicine, because I want to become a psychiatrist.

I know that you have to like science if you want to be happy in medicine, but for me, I'm more interested in working with the intangible issues that people with mind disorders face. And I want to help them in the most holistic way possible, which would require addressing both mental and physical aspects.

How could I explain this to medical schools when they ask the 'why medicine' question?

Is there anything wrong with answering, 'I want to become a doctor, because I want to become a psychiatrist'?
I'm in med school (ms1) and was in the same position as you. like other people have said, don't mention that you want to be a psychiatrist. you could mention that you are interested in psychiatry, along with internal medicine, etc, etc. But I would try to avoid the topic altogether and say that you're not sure and will have to wait to clinicals to really learn what your passion in life is going to be. I suggest this because I heard rumors that some docs think psych is "soft", meaning you'll be disadvantaged saying this. better safe than sorry i guess.

some ideas:
like you said, i would use the biopsychosocial approach,
bio - drugs, meds
psycho - persons emotional well-being
social - persons relationships with others , including doctors
particularly if you mention the treatment of the PATIENT versus the disease...this is something all med school are leaning towards, then this approach makes a whole lotta sense.
i believe I also mentioned alleviating suffering of the patient using a multifactorial approach, allowing synergy of various treatment components.

good luck with med school, pm me if you need help applying to med school.
 

OldPsychDoc

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I'm in med school (ms1) and was in the same position as you. like other people have said, don't mention that you want to be a psychiatrist. you could mention that you are interested in psychiatry, along with internal medicine, etc, etc. But I would try to avoid the topic altogether and say that you're not sure and will have to wait to clinicals to really learn what your passion in life is going to be. I suggest this because I heard rumors that some docs think psych is "soft", meaning you'll be disadvantaged saying this. better safe than sorry i guess.

some ideas:
like you said, i would use the biopsychosocial approach,
bio - drugs, meds
psycho - persons emotional well-being
social - persons relationships with others , including doctors
particularly if you mention the treatment of the PATIENT versus the disease...this is something all med school are leaning towards, then this approach makes a whole lotta sense.
i believe I also mentioned alleviating suffering of the patient using a multifactorial approach, allowing synergy of various treatment components.

good luck with med school, pm me if you need help applying to med school.
Don't forget to throw in a little "neuroscience is the last frontier...excited about how the brain works...blah blah blah.."