Beginning of the Start: Why does one become a child psychiatrist?

Kirthana is a young doctor working towards a residency in Psychiatry.  She was born in India and received her formal education in Singapore. She obtained her medical degree from the National University of Singapore and completed her Housemanship here. She then proceeded to complete externships in the US, while sitting for USMLE examinations. After her overseas rotations, she came home as a medical officer with the aim of completing her Psychiatry residency in Singapore and a Child Psychiatry fellowship in the US. Amidst this, she was thrust into the COVID-19 battle as she was sent to the frontlines where she spent the next 5 months treating migrant workers infected with the virus. I asked her to share her thoughts on why she wanted to be a child psychiatrist.

Dr.Kirthana Vasudevan in real life and as frontline heroine

“For years, I have wanted to work with children and teenagers. Whether it is their profound innocence, refreshing insights, or their innate vulnerabilities, it brings me great joy to work with and for them. It was through this passion that I was drawn to Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and found a meaningful career path.

As a specialty, I genuinely believe in its cause. Today, we know that many of the maladaptive behavioural patterns in adults had predictable beginnings in childhood. It makes sense to target and modify related thought patterns at earlier stages. We could then improve the prognosis of various conditions and help shape better futures for our patients.

Personally, I believe that “every child matters”. No child should be left behind. They are the future, and they deserve our unwavering protection and guidance. Today, we live in a digital age that presents novel challenges to our children. They are exposed to an additional social dimension that threatens their sense of identity – a world where the lines between virtual realms and reality are blurred. They are not always equipped with the right psychological tools and may struggle to tackle the ever-changing social paradigms. I find that they need mental health professionals now more than ever.

On occasions, I have been asked if it is difficult to listen to the painful experiences of kids and teenagers daily. Yes, there have been heart-wrenching moments with victims of abuse, bright teens who have lost their will to live and sadly, the list does not end there. Despite these challenges, the comforting aspect is that this age group also offers more hope and possibilities than any other demographic. Their neuroplasticity and adaptability make them prime candidates for early intervention. As a child psychiatrist, there is also the privilege of supporting them during such difficult times.  This specialty has the potential to alleviate a child’s suffering, allowing them to live full lives. To journey alongside a child’s struggles, growth and recovery in this way is a gift. As such, I hope to join this noble profession and contribute to its efforts in due course.”

Dr Daniel Fung
President

Published by IACAPAP

The International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions’ (IACAPAP) mission is to advocate for the promotion of the mental health and development of children and adolescents through policy, practice and research.

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