After moving to a new city, I got a new job working as a pharmacist in an acute mental health unit. It wasn’t my cup of tea so I had to learn new skills, refresh myself with psychotropics and getting to learn how different it was to look after patients in an acute mental health unit.
For one, I didn’t always get to do a proper medication reconciliation on admission because the patient’s mental state was not stable enough to give me an accurate medication history. The unit was also heavily governed by the Mental Health Act which dictated logistically the timing of assessment as well as options and rights for the patients.
These were the minor details that I had to learn. But the biggest challenge was getting to know the psychiatrists I had to work with. The unit I looked after had three different psychiatrists – they all had different personalities and demeanor.
Dr. A was always a little scattered-brain and writing prescriptions that were either illegible or needed clarification. Dr. B was always quiet and went with the flow but Dr. C had the reputation that she was eccentric and intimidating. In fact, I got warnings from several people before I even got to meet Dr. C myself.
Indeed, Dr. C came across as very intimidating initially. She saw me and came straight to my face to ask me who I was, given I was a new face to the unit. She wasn’t rude. She was just forth coming to get to know me and to include me in her team meetings. But as I got to spend more time on the unit, I also got to see how the three different psychiatrists handled their patients differently.
Dr. C made me work very hard. She was always changing medications the last minutes, breaking all the rules that pharmacy has made and handing over bags of supplements to check for drug interactions that her manic patients bought on the internet. She was asking for a lot.
But I knew she did it because she deeply cared for her patients. She did what she thought was best for the patients, not what was convenient for the pharmacy or the hospital. She sometimes made decisions that were not popular on the unit but it was in the best interest for her patients.
She didn’t have a good reputation because she cared more for her patients than her own reputation. She was a good psychiatrist and I wish more people would see her differently and appreciate her good intention.