During medical school and residency, you are often placed in different settings and must quickly adapt. One month you may be in the ICU, and the next you are seeing patients in an outpatient setting. Being versatile is a key component of being a doctor. As I have gone through my training, I have seen first hand the difference primary care and preventative healthcare can make. It’s unfortunate seeing patients in the ICU at the end of their disease spectrum who did not have access to primary care. I believe that mental health is an all encompassing part of a person’s health and wellbeing.
Patients in the ICU suffer from many comorbidities such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus, and atrial fibrillation. I have also seen that most patients that carry these comorbidities have underlying depression/anxiety which makes it more difficult to improve. This creates a vicious cycle, where patients who have underlying mental health conditions get worse comorbidities and vice versa. I always find myself wondering if patients that are in the ICU could have avoided the ICU by having treatment of their depression/anxiety from a much younger age.
I chose anesthesia because of the pharmacology and physiology. However, there is a very intimate relationship between patients and their anesthesiologist. Patients have not usually met their anesthesiologist before and are often seeing them for the first time. They are often very afraid and anesthesiologists must quickly build report and provide a therapeutic relationship.
Medical school is very difficult and time consuming, schools often provide access to mental health practitioners free of cost and encourage students to use them when needed. During the rough cold months of January with my first board exam looming I decided to see one for the first time. I didn’t end up talking to her about my board exam or my fear of having seasonal depression. Instead I talked to her about my family life, my personal relationship, and my life goals. I attribute a lot of my success in my medical career to the help and guidance she provided me. After my experience with a therapist, I recommend it to many of my patients and even provide them with my own personal anecdote.