Global Mental Health as a Component of Psychiatric Residency Training

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Abstract

This study seeks to assess the educational value of an international psychiatry elective using a cross section of psychiatric residents. In 2010, a 10-item semi-structured questionnaire was administered to Mount Sinai psychiatric residents who have participated in the Global Health Residency Track of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Authors reviewed the qualitative data and arrived at a consensus regarding trends and deviations regarding residents' experiences of their international field work. Six residents participated in this study. Common themes included exposure to sicker, treatment-naïve patients in resource scarce conditions, enhancement of cross-cultural communications skills, renewed appreciation for psychiatry, empowerment as teachers, and greater awareness of health-care systems. Knowing that an international elective existed would be a significant factor in their choice of residency. Respondents had concerns for the sustainability. Participants felt that the elective was a place to consolidate skills already learned during residency and resulted in increased professional confidence although it did not necessarily alter career paths. International electives can enrich psychiatric residency training in terms of understanding of mental health care systems, cross cultural psychiatry, sharpening diagnostic skills, building professional confidence and communication skills, and reaffirming motivation to practice psychiatry.

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