Tips for Psychiatry Clerkship
01. Always be respectful of the patient and uphold their dignity.
Patients are admitted to the psychiatric unit for various reasons. They are in a very vulnerable place mentally, emotionally, and physically. They did not choose to be sick. Mental illness has been stigmatized for a long time, and patients should not feel judgement or any blame for their condition.
02. Don’t take anything personally.
Some patients can say really offensive things. You might be called a failure, cursed at or threatened. Try and use the opportunity to learn more about your patient and not make it about you and your feelings.
03. How to deal with violent/aggressive patients.
Be on guard at all times. Definitely BE CAREFUL! Always be closest to the door and NEVER put yourself in a situation where you can get barricaded inside a room alone with a patient. You can feel scared, but don’t show it. Focus on what the patient is expressing and work to ease your agitation. Be gentle and tread lightly.
04. How to speak to patients about their decisions.
Do NOT be confrontational. It is important to express curiosity and interest about them. Be super careful with your words. Do NOT ask why. Stick with how, when and what?
05. How to approach a “difficult” patient.
Listen carefully, reflect and validate the patient’s feelings, try to understand their perspective and negotiate if they’re resistant to treatment.
06. Have fun!
Most important is to be compassionate and empathetic towards your patients. Be able to separate them from their illness.