Setting the stage for mental health care

Ravi Parhar

With one in three Canadians experiencing a mental illness during their lifetime, Ravi Parhar knows the crucial role mental health plays in a person’s overall well-being.

It’s one of the reasons why Parhar, now a third-year medical student at UBC’s Faculty of Medicine, enrolled in the Psychiatry Summer Immersion Program – a new program offered by the Department of Psychiatry for first and second year medical students wanting to explore the profession.

The three day program – which included 20 students from UBC’s distributed medical program sites in Vancouver, Kelowna, Prince George and Victoria and more than 40 faculty members and postgraduate residents – exposed students to a variety of psychiatry subspecialties through interactive lectures and clinical observation placements.

“I had three placements: one was in a geriatric psychiatry clinic, another was at the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addictions,” says Parhar. “I also shadowed a consult liaison at Vancouver General Hospital who helped develop treatment plans for in-patients with multiple chronic conditions like heart disease and depression.”

Other placements in the program included emergency psychiatry, neuropsychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry and adult outpatient clinics.

Dr. Clare Beasley, Program Lead and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, says the program offers students more than just a window into the daily lives of psychiatrists.

Twenty medical students from across the province participated in the Psychiatry Summer Immersion Program.

“It exposes them early on to the different career paths within psychiatry, as well as highlighting the diverse mental health needs of our population,” she says. “It also shows students the benefits patients can gain from specialized psychiatric care.”

Looking ahead, Parhar says he’s interested in pursuing either family medicine or psychiatry and that the experience helped shape his future practice.

“Regardless of what specialty I go into, there will be patients with mental health needs,” he explains. “So learning about the different resources available for doctors and patients will help me connect them with the care they need.”