The journey between medical school graduation and specialty board certification in one's chosen field of medicine may comprise the most challenging, exciting and important times of a young professional's life. This journey is called residency education. While the most obvious objectives are cognitive education and practice in the field, trainees also face fundamental life challenges such as developing identity, intimacy and a direction for their own generative goals in the world.
Psychiatry residency should be viewed as a personal as well as professional developmental process (1). It contains all of the turbulence of adolescence revisited (2), where "normative crises" (3) can be expected to occur. This journey through fundamental stages of emotional development actually begins long before one enters residency (4), but dealing with disorders of thought, behavior and action will constitute a major challenge to the trainee's identity. Yager (5) contends that some degree of identity crisis may in fact be beneficial to growth, but that training programs should identify and control factors which magnify this crisis unnecessarily. Taintor et al (6) discussed specific stress factors and their contributions to personal and professional growth. An excellent paper by Lindy (7) presented a training director's perspective on a phase-specific model for psychiatric training based on maturational steps.
Deming, Jr., MD, James E.
"The Ideal Psychiatry Training Program: A Resident's Viewpoint,"
Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry:
2, Article 9.
Available at: http://jdc.jefferson.edu/jeffjpsychiatry/vol5/iss2/9