The field of child & adolescent psychiatry is one that came knocking on my door during my 4th year of medical school. With a strong desire to pursue pediatrics, my electives were pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation and consult/liaison pediatric psychiatry at our free-standing Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee, WI. I had already applied for pediatric residency programs and I was looking forward to a more relaxing rotation on C/L pediatric psychiatry. Little did I know that within 2 weeks of the rotation, I would be writing a psychiatry personal statement, requesting letters of recommendation from psychiatrists, and the same year, additionally applying for general psychiatry programs with the goal of becoming a child & adolescent psychiatrist. 

Coming from a family of physicians who are academically driven and very talented, I have had great exposure to multiple fields of study within medicine. I was also fortunate to grow up in a household where I was not coerced into any field of work, but rather encouraged to pursue my other talents, such as becoming a professional pianist and/or cellist. Even though I was talented enough to have a promising career in music ahead of me, I never felt the deep passion that I had when I envisioned myself as a pediatrician. I continued to follow my trajectory of medicine, but alongside many hobbies such as showcase choirs, languages, sports, musicals, plays, leadership positions, volunteering at afterschool programs, animal rescue projects, pet pals, and travel for both academic and music performance purposes. I was lucky enough to have opportunities to pursue all of my interests, which has mademy life very colorful. In college, I chose to double major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Zoology and Spanish, while finishing the prerequisites for medical school on the side. I went straight from college into medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin where I studied hard to become a pediatrician. As stated above, I applied for pediatric residency programs and went on 6 pediatric residency interviews, but I found myself walking away dissatisfied with the road that lay ahead. I concurrently went on general psychiatry interviews where I found myself excited and eager to learn more about various programs.  I reflected on all my medical training and what aspects I loved about medicine: preventative care, continuity of care, and multidisciplinary approach to medicine. I decided that pediatric psychiatry was the missing link and then stopped interviewing for pediatric residency programs, solely interviewed for and ranked general psychiatry programs, and my goal was to fast-track into a prestigious child & adolescent psychiatry program.

Pediatric psychiatrists work with children and their families by providing different levels of care to children with mental health issues requiring therapy and/or medication management. They assess family dynamics, support systems, level of communication, and use a multidisciplinary approach when treating children. Most importantly is an emphasis on keeping children safe and having an empathic understanding of children and their families’ situation. This was once described by Heinz Kohut as “vicarious introspection”. While remaining good clinicians with expertise in psychiatric conditions, pediatric psychiatrists work towards fostering long-term relationships with children and their families whenever it is possible.

I completed my general psychiatry residency at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL. I actively sought out more opportunities to continue working with children as well as adults during those 3 years at Rush. I performed clinical research in autism with the child research team, I participated in AACAP as a member and avid reader of the “orange journal”. Also, the Rush CAP fellowship program actually sponsored my trip to Child Advocacy Day during my intern (1st year) of residency and AACAP meeting during my 2nd year. During my 3rd year at Rush, I applied for fellowship and I was honored to be selected as a trainee at Stanford Hospital & Clinics for my Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship program.

As a Child & Adolescent Fellow, this brings me to present day, where I am continuing my training at BACA in Oakland, CA. I will mainly work with patients in the intensive out-patient programs and my role will most likely be one of the group therapists; at times, I may be your child’s psychiatrist and/or individual or family therapist. Most of all, my role is working as a team member of a very strong, caring community that is BACA. I strive to learn something new every day from all my faculty mentors, as well as from all of you.

As much as my job is my true passion and love, I do have others! As you can see, I believe strongly in having good companionships with friends, family, and those in between. I currently live in downtown San Francisco with my boyfriend, who practices Family Medicine in Los Altos, and our 1 year old puppy  who we adopted from the SPCA San Francisco in September 2016 (yet another addition to 4 dogs my family has in Brookfield, Wisconsin!).

I’m an animal lover, I love to travel all over the world and I have been fortunate enough to do so, and I love to both play and perform – from piano solos to state orchestra competitions as well as watch and dance – music festivals to EDM DJs spin. Most recently, I received turntables as a birthday gift, so hopefully Dr. Dua will mix a track soon for everyone’s listening pleasure!  I am fairly new to the Bay Area, but so far I have already developed some good relationships both at work and in my personal life. I am looking forward to the years ahead. Thanks again BACA for having me!