So for the past couple weeks, I have been “working” in psychiatry and by “working” I mean that I am learning to become a doctor one day some day. Hopefully.
I have always know that becoming a doctor does not exactly fulfills one’s goal of “I want to help people”. Yes, you help people when you are a doctor, but more often than you want to imagine, that you treat their acute illness and people then go about living their usual ways. More “help” is needed from policy making, from social structure, from healthcare reform etc that will actually help people in the long run. It saddens me greatly when people are sick because they are not financially capable for taking their medications or there is just so much going on with their life that maybe taking medication is not on the top of their to-do-list.
What brings me to actually write about this today is that on inpatient psychiatry, sometimes you have to discharge patients to homeless shelters. With medications you hope they would take and with follow up appointments that you hope they would show up. These people face the stigma of the society has towards mental illness; these people face the abandonment of their family and friends; these people face the difficulty of ever finding a job to support them financially. I won’t be surprised that they do not take their medications or show up to their appointments once they are out of the hospital. And then the cycle continues- they get worse, they end up in the emergency room and they are back to the hospital. I know we have moved on from institutionize people with mental illness, but the current system is also flawed that they are stuck in this vicious cycle. But what else can you do? Despite how difficult it is, you sometimes have to just admit that we can only help so little.