Nurture and networks – supporting the next generation of scientists and psychiatrists

Young scientists, brimming with ideas and eager to progress, are vital for the future of psychiatry. Ahead of the international CINP 2016 congress in Seoul, Korea, we spoke with Dr Saddichha Sahoo, a member of the CINP Young Programme sub-committee* about how he sees the evolution of psychiatry, and got his views on how up-coming psychiatrists and researchers can get ahead and contribute to advances in the field.

Dr Sahoo is currently working as a Consultant Psychiatrist with Queensland Health, practicing at Ipswich Hospital in Brisbane Australia where he is also a Senior Clinical Lecturer in the School of Medicine at the University of Queensland. Prior to this he was a Clinical Fellow at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

 

Tell us a little bit about the CINP Young Programme

I’ve been associated with the CINP Young Programme for around 5-6 years now. CINP has been one of the organizations that supports young scientists in the field of clinical psychopharmacology. For the past year I’ve been involved as a coordinator of the Young Scientists group and we’ve tried to extend that into having a session at the CINP 2016. This will be a mix of topics and an opportunity to speak about the experiences of young scientists. We have speakers who will talk about the challenges of being a young scientist and research fellow, getting academic positions, applying for grants and overcoming barriers to progress. I will also speak about the importance of achieving the right work-life balance!

 

How do you see the evolution of psychiatry as a profession?

I’ve been lucky enough to practice in three continents – I’ve worked in India, Canada and now Australia. And I think there has been greater and growing acceptance of psychiatry in general and within the medical fraternity. I’m really pleased that psychiatry as a whole has started to move away from just a descriptive science to a more evidence-based science, without loosing its humanistic touch.

In the future – I think we will aim to achieve more holistic treatments for our patients – rather than just targeting disorders with a single medication or cocktail of medications.

 

Is medical education in psychiatry changing?

Medical education will always be delivered in different forms. I’m a faculty member at The University of Queensland and I’m also involved with the education committee of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology – and increasingly we see that on-going medical education can be delivered on-line rather than through didactic lectures. Webinars and on-line learning mean that you can undertake education in your own time, and these media allow the integration of different topics and different branches of medicine within educational programmes. This makes things more interesting.  Audio-visual advances also mean that on-line medical education is engaging.

 

What about the role of medical societies in supporting change in the field and medical education?

Medical societies like CINP are among the biggest supporters in motivating, fostering and financially supporting young researchers who would otherwise not have the opportunity to carry out their ideas. Medical societies give us the platform and the financial backing to come to international congresses where the doyens of research and academia assemble. It helps and leads to networks which are essential to supporting the brightest young researchers to move ahead in their careers. Young scientists can come back enriched and share their knowledge – helping to pay back some of the kind support and backing they get from their current institutions. I can use the learnings from meetings in my organization.

 

What are the main challenges facing young scientists and researchers today?

 

I think the biggest challenge is that lack of a network or a mentor to give a push in the right direction. And probably the fact that often you have to seek out the avenues available, all by yourself.  CINP has become increasingly visible in recent years as trying to support young scientists and foster a network.

 

What else could happen to make things easier for young researchers in psychiatry and neuropharmacology?

Personally, I have benefited the most from having a very interested mentor. It can also be good to work with and have a group of mentors – maybe spanning different fields. This helps your research evolve. Four interested mentors who you can lean on and tap into when you need advice – that would be ideal.

 

What are some of the hot topics at CINP and in the field in general?

Being a psychopharmacologist, I’m looking forward to seeing if there are newer methods of delivery of psychotropics – because in some ways we’ve reached a peak in innovation in psychopharmacology – but yet we need to have antidepressants and other treatments which are longer acting - and psychotropics with lesser propensity for side effects, or combinations. If you think about cardiology – that’s a field that was revolutionized thanks to use of combinations of drugs acting in different ways and on different risk factors and symptoms. If we could do something similar in psychiatry, it might change the way we treat certain conditions.

 

* For details of the CINP Young Programme activities at CINP and CINP awards and schemes for young scientists: – visit https://www.cinp2016.com

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