Psychiatrist Dr Nirmala S Rao talks to Mona Rose Sheila Pereira on making mind one’s own vocation.
“Being a psychiatrist is a tough job. You deal with people having mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. Each day and each case offers different facets of the human mind. Human nature is very complex and one has to be alert and emphatic all the time.
After completing my MD from Mumbai University, I finished my post-graduate Diploma in Psychiatry Medicine. But this profession requires much more than mere qualifications. You have to develop patience, be a good listener and have an understanding of human behavior.
Emotional stability is a prerequisite. You should be concerned about your patients’ wellbeing while having an objective approach towards their problems. Ability to work as a member of a multidisciplinary team and a high degree of interpersonal skills are crucial attributes.
Life has become very stressful giving rise to various psychological and psychiatric disorders. Earlier, visiting a psychiatrist was a taboo, but now people are more open to undergoing mental healing.
Psychiatrists conduct counselling sessions with the patients and also their relatives. Is psychiatry same as psychology and counselling? The answer is no.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who prescribe treatment to deal with the organic source of the disease. The treatment may include medication, counselling, psychotherapy or electrotherapy.
Some specialise in children`s issues while others handle those arising from medical, surgical, cardiac and gynecological traumas. Networking with other professionals is important. Psychiatrists work in unison with occupational therapists and social workers in patient rehabilitation.
Initially, one struggles a lot to get established and build your reputation but this is with every profession. Job opportunities for psychiatrists are abound. They may work independently having their own clinic or may work in hospitals, policlinics, mental asylums, health centers, schools and colleges.
Big industries and rehabilitation centers that work with drug addiction, alcoholism, and mental problems also employ psychiatrists. They may also work in courts and prisons. Remuneration for private practitioners is a lot more than those working in government hospitals. They charge approximately Rs 600 and above for an hour of counselling.
Psychiatrists witness the negative side of human personality and this can lead to tremendous stress. Patients may turn violent and aggressive and there is always a risk of unhealthy attachment with patients and emotional dependence.
You have to handle such situation delicately and have the strength of conviction and the ability to perceive right signals at the right time as this helps in the proper diagnosis and treatment.
I deal with patients in all age groups having various psychiatric disorders. We run a child guidance clinic and are also into art rehabilitation of those who cannot go back to normal employment. We also conduct training programmes on behavioral subjects like wellness, team building, relationships, organisational development, etc.
This field offers one a great opportunity to interact with people from different fields. It also gives you immense job satisfaction and a different perspective of life. More importantly, you get to make a difference to the lives of people and to society at large.“
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