Thursday Born

The everyday life of a psychiatry resident (who was born on a Thursday).

Patient Presentations

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Every now and then, instead of a lecture, we will have a panel consisting of two or three patients and usually one or two doctors. I really enjoy hearing other people’s stories, and that’s usually what these presentations are. The conditions are always chronic to some degree, so we get to hear about their life from the onset of the disease on, sometimes even before the disease, and sometimes they’ve had the disease their entire life.

Last week we had two separate patient presentations that were both amazing for different reasons.

The first panel we had two women with schizoaffective disorder, and two doctors, one a psychiatrist, who volunteer/work at a center that’s a big part of their lives. Back in college, I remember learning that there are certain psychiatric disorders, like schizophrenia, where people who have them actually tend to do better in poorer countries where living is still more village style, and they’re kept a part of the family and the community. While they still very much have the disorder, something about staying connected helps keep the disease in check and they are much more functional. I always wondered why there weren’t programs that better provided that sort of support for people with mental disorders in more developed countries, as opposed to just medicating the hell out of them.

So back to the panel. It turns out there are centers that provide exactly that kind of support. And it’s not the only one that exists! They’re called Clubhouses, and no, they’re not a home, but instead they are a place where the members work alongside the volunteers to provide a variety of services. It’s a community support model that empowers its members, allowing them to feel both independent, but also healthily inter-dependent. They have a base for emotional support, and they also have responsibility (ie, employment). I think it’s wonderful and I’m so happy it and others like it exist. Google the Clubhouse model of psychosocial rehabilitation if you’re interested in learning more.

And don’t get me wrong, the medications are still very important. But they’re just the beginning of the treatment.

The second presentation was on Cerebral Palsy, something I was only dimly aware existed on as wide a continuum as it does. There was at least one girl at my undergrad college who seemed to have it, but I’ve never really known anyone who did. What was really cool about this panel then was that we had two patients with Cerebral Palsy, and the doctor had it too! They represented a good range of the disease, and none of them had any cognitive impairments (as is true of the majority of people with cerebral palsy); just the disordered movement.

It’s hard for me to concretely say what I learned from these panels. They were interesting, fun, and inspiring. They are to our lectures what the human interest segments are to the nightly news. And I wouldn’t do away with them. The patients are great people for being willing to come in front of a good hundred or so medical students and talk so personally about their lives, and I’m thankful for the chance to get to know them a little bit, even if the getting to know process isn’t mutual.

Written by Aba

May 21, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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  1. You graduated 2 years ago? Did you take a year off? I’m confuzzled…


    May 21, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    • Yup, I did research full time for a year. I was class of 2008. :) I was a little on the younger end of my class, though not overly so.


      May 21, 2010 at 8:30 pm

  2. ok this comment was meant for your previous post… don’t ask how i messed that up.


    May 21, 2010 at 8:11 pm

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