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Date: 2016-04-06
Title: Journey from Kathmandu to Boston: Global Division Observer Matches with BMC

A former observer at the MGH Division of Global Psychiatry, Dr. Pragyan Sharma, a medical doctor from Nepal, has been accepted to psychiatry residency at Boston Medical Center. This is his story about his path to a career in mental health and from Kathmandu to Boston.

My journey to explore the human mind and behavior started long before I joined medical school. As a high school student, I had volunteered in a mental health stigma program and it dawned on me that there were two kinds of illnesses people suffered from - one visible to our eyes that people openly talked about and another which was often more debilitating, yet something that was hidden from view. I was initially frustrated by the myriad demands and complexities of mental illness, but this intense experience instilled in me a deep desire to pursue my career as a healer of the visible and invisible wounds of mental illness.

I am a medical graduate from Nepal who decided to take up psychiatry, which itself is a challenging task. Mental health care facilities in Nepal are of poor quality, particularly in the rural areas. Despite that, it is still beyond the means of most Nepalese. Provision of mental health care services is constrained by inadequate government funding. The poor and excluded have limited access to basic health care due to its high costs and low availability. The demand for health services is further lowered by the lack of health education. The mere satisfaction of entering into a residency program was not enough for me; my highest ambition was to go to an excellent hospital to further my training.

I decided to move to Boston after finishing my clinical skills examination in 2015. I spent a month as an observer at McLean Hospital and then was lucky to be introduced to the MGH Division of Global Psychiatry and Schizophrenia Clinical and Research Program. I started as a visiting observer in the Division of Global Psychiatry learning about the global burden of mental health in developing countries and was then accepted to a research position in the Schizophrenia Clinical and Research Program. During this time, I studied the use of long-acting injectable medications in schizophrenia patients. These experiences taught me the basics of asking the right question, designing experiments with a careful attention to detail, and analyzing data with an unbiased mind.

I applied to Psychiatry residency programs knowing I would want to go to a program where I could receive the best training. I attended 21 interviews altogether but found the best fit at Boston University/Boston Medical Center. As a young physician at the formative stage of my career, I aspire to practice medicine in a way that not only treats or manages symptoms, but with an approach that aims to create a better quality of life and alleviates the deep anguish many people suffer from. I want to learn to combine psychotherapy, psychotropic medications, and psychosocial approaches that can help create a sound footing for my life’s work. I look forward to my life of learning and healing with boundless enthusiasm.