Psychiatry has always been of great interest to me and was part of the reason that I chose to study medicine. Prior to attending the IoPPN summer school I had not received any psychiatric teaching in medical school so I could not confidently say that it was the speciality I was going to go in to. However, attending the summer school has definitely changed this and I know for certain that this is the right career for me.
Throughout the week we received a wide range of lectures on many different topics and focal points of psychiatry; from some of the more obvious subjects such as psychosis, to other more niche areas such as homelessness psychiatry. All of the talks and lectures were engaging and insightful, with the speakers keen to answer questions at any time and clarify anything that might not be entirely clear. We also received testimonials from various individuals which gave a truly unique insight into both suffering from mental illness and the impact it can have on your personal, social and professional life.
There were various activities planned throughout the week, including; psychiatric history-taking from actors, visits to the Royal Bethlem Hospital where we were able to speak with patients and 'speed dating for specialities' where you had the opportunity to meet and speak with a range of professionals from many different disciplines within psychiatry.
It was also an excellent opportunity to meet other medical students from around the country, and the world, in my case. For me this was the first time that I had met anyone else interested in a career in psychiatry so it was a great opportunity to speak with likeminded people. In the evenings there are social activities arranged for the group as well as it is a good opportunity to get out and around London while getting to know one another.
When staying in London if you needed accommodation there is the option to stay with a psychiatrist in their home. I would highly recommend this and I cannot thank my host enough for their kind hospitality and home cooking.
I cannot recommend the summer school enough for anyone, whether you are sold on psychiatry or looking to be convinced. I can assure you, it would not be a wasted opportunity.
Abbie McAlinden (3rd Year Medical Student, University of Aberdeen)
The IoPPN Summer School which I attended in 2016 was a fantastic experience and I could not recommend it enough! The week-long summer school allowed me to meet other passionate medical students (from all around the world), eager to learn more about Psychiatry.
A unique aspect of this Summer School is the opportunity to stay with a psychiatrist for a whole week in London. This means you get unparalleled access to enquire about what it is like working in psychiatry, and truly see the pros and cons. The psychiatrist I stayed with was extremely welcoming and I had a fantastic week staying in her home.
The content of the Summer School is very engaging. We were fortunate enough to attend wards and meet patients, and there was also talks from psychiatrists working in a diverse range of areas, from Forensic psychiatry to Child and Adolescent psychiatry. Potentially the most beneficial career event I have attended yet, was the ‘speed-dating’ session where we had the opportunity to talk to over 10 different psychiatrists working in different areas. During this session we got a brief introduction to the area they worked in and then had the opportunity to ask questions about their career. This event was very useful and has made me consider working in areas of psychiatry I had previously never considered!
The events through the week are diverse! From a reception at the Royal College of Psychiatrists to attending an evening cinema club for trainee psychiatrists, you are guaranteed to have an interesting, engaging and fun week. I could not recommend applying to this Summer School enough, I found it to be extremely insightful and fun! I would encourage anyone who has questions about what psychiatry involves to apply – you are guaranteed to find your answers!
Jordan Bamford (3rd Year Medical Student, Queens University Belfast)
The IoPPN Summer School provided fascinating insights in to the many facets of psychiatry. The timetable was full of exciting and varied activities and gave a flavour of what a rewarding specialty psychiatry is to work in.
These activities included a psychiatry ‘speed dating’ session during which you could speak to psychiatrists from nearly all sub-specialties and find out more about them, a visit to a Forensic psychiatric hospital, an ‘extreme psychiatry’ session where we could practice history taking with simulated patients, a visit to the ‘Museum of the Mind’ exploring the thought provoking history of psychiatry, and many inspiring lectures covering all aspects of psychiatry from clinical, research and personal perspectives.
The week was both fascinating and informative in equal measures and I would definitely recommend the summer school to all medical students with any interest in psychiatry!
Chris Hatton (4th Year Medical Student, Hull York Medical School)
The IoPPN summer school was brilliant. I’d had ideas about psychiatry throughout various stages of my medical school career and this really helped broaden my perspectives on the speciality.
One of my favourite parts of the week was the aptly-named ‘speed-dating’ for psychiatrists. We were able to bounce between many individual doctors who worked in various fields of psychiatry, listen to what they did and then fire off as many questions as we could at them. Frankly, I was astounded at the spectrum of careers offered within psychiatry, from psychotherapy to CAMHS to the Armed Forces, and did not realise the scope of different skills and lifestyles involved in each. Furthermore, having previously studied a module in forensic psychology during an intercalated year, the opportunity to visit the secure units at the Royal Bethlem was a novel and eye-opening view into a completely different world of mental health.
Throughout the week, we received talks from a host of authorities and renowned psychiatrists. Some of these talks had me laughing, others had me learning and some all but brought a tear to my eye. From hearing about the barbaric history of how we treated mental health, a doctors gripping tales of their life in psychiatry and the highly personal and emotional accounts of patients and carers, I did wish the week could continue.
This week, where I was hosted by a psychiatrist, travelled throughout SLAM and visited the Bethlem Royal was a great experience and I’d wholly recommend it to any medical student who is interested in psychiatry or even just wants to learn a little bit more about what the speciality can offer.
Rob Sinnerton (4th Year medical student, Cardiff University)
As a 5th year medical student at Imperial College London, I was incredibly grateful for the chance to attend the IoPPN Summer School in 2016. Throughout the week I was immersed in a rich variety of lectures, looking at the experience of mental health from patient, carer and clinical perspectives and challenging us as a group to debate and discuss topics extending far beyond our curriculum. Of course, you'll also have the chance to network with like-minded medical students from around the UK and explore the beautiful city of London!
One aspect of the week that proved to be particularly inspiring was the chance to 'speed date' with multiple sub specialties within Psychiatry, giving us time to find out everything we wished to know about the realities of over 10 different career paths which becoming a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists would open to us in the future. Furthermore, by taking a day trip to Bethlem Hospital and Museum of the Mind, we contrasted the spoken clinical experiences of patients on the Forensic ward with the artistic expression of mental illness evident in the museum's galleries and art therapy room. On the closing day of the Summer School I actually volunteered to debate the use (or over use) of antidepressants in the UK with the rather formidable prospect of Professor Sir Simon Wessely, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Chairing the debate - a very special opportunity!
Currently, I hold the position of Pathfinder Fellowship with the Royal College of Psychiatrists and am therefore very committed to pursuing this career, but the IoPPN Summer School covered areas of my goal that I had not previously had the chance to explore in depth. If, like me, you're already very keen on Psychiatry, this is one of the best ways you could ever spend a week! However, I would still highly recommend that you apply, even if you have only a mild curiosity about this specialty, because it is a wonderful experience and it may just provide the spark you've been waiting for to take your interest further. Good luck!
Claire Brash (5th Year Medical Student, Imperial College London)