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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Message from Professor Sue Bailey, Past-President

President, Professor Sue Bailey Doctors who choose to specialise in psychiatry have the best and most diverse of career opportunities. No two clinical days are the same.

For over 30 years I have been privileged to work as a psychiatrist. A unique blend of science and humanity, psychiatry is the part of medicine where you can work in real partnership with patients, their carers, and their families.

  • Liaison psychiatrists can speed up recovery of patients with physical illness. 
  • Neuropsychiatrists deal with complex behavioural problems arising out of seizure disorders and degenerative conditions, and work at the cutting edge of understanding the mind-brain dualism. 
  • Evidence-based treatments in psychiatry have a level of effectiveness equivalent to all medicine, in managing both acute illness and long-term conditions. 
  • New science is helping us understand at the cellular level the origins of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 
  • With strong international clinical and research links, there are great opportunities for young doctors to make a real difference following natural and man-made disasters across the world.
  • Through work with children we can prevent many late-onset mental illnesses and support their families.
  • And where they have genetic vulnerability or have experienced the impact of abusive life events we can, working with skilled and enthusiastic multidisciplinary teams, ameliorate the negative impact of nature and nurture. By meeting their needs we can, over time, reduce the risk presented by young people and help them to return to the community and lead prosocial lives.

There can be no public health without mental health. Being a psychiatrist you have a real opportunity to lead clinical teams, and support a range of other professionals across social care, education and justice. As a child forensic psychiatrist I work closely with the legal profession, offering evidence in court.

  • How would you face the challenge of unpicking the diagnostic complexities of individuals who have a mix of neurodevelopmental disorders, personality disorder and substance misuse, who are also victims of trauma, domestic violence and abuse, and who do not adhere to their treatment for hypertension and diabetes? 
  • How would you set up long-term research projects, to understand why and how treatments work in a particular way over the life course? 
  • How would you support and improve the lives of individuals and their families where there is emerging dementia, or where the individual has intellectual disability?
  • How would you stand up side by side with patient groups, in front of a health select committee in Parliament, to fight for the best services for those with mental illness?

Come and join us in the best, most creative specialty within medicine. Make a difference: improve lives.


Message from Dr Wendy Burn, Dean

New Dean: Dr Wendy Burn Psychiatry is the most fascinating area of medicine. Because the brain is so much more complicated than the rest of the body we are still “behind” other specialties in that diagnoses are made on the grounds of history and examination and few investigations are available. This makes the job more challenging but also hugely interesting and intellectually stimulating.

I have been working in psychiatry for over 25 years but every day brings something different. In this specialty there is no chance that work will becomes mundane or boring. If you choose it as a career you will have the chance to make a real difference to people’s lives, there is nothing more satisfying than helping a patient to overcome a mental illness. 

Back to Student Associates

Updated 5 June 2014


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