Vasudha Sharma – Dayanand Medical College & Hospital

PSYY 403 – Child Psychiatry

Tell us about your elective experience at UNC.

The best thing I found after coming here was observing the contrast between India vs. in the United States. Identifying the stressors here. For example, I am working with children and adolescents, so bullying was a concern that we did not commonly see back in India. Also broken families, that is another thing which was more common in US. Additionally, how we can give your patients so much time here. It is so overpopulated in India that you cannot build rapport with your patients to this extent. But here, doing that was the best part of my elective. My favorite part was talking to the kids, interacting with them. Asking them what they like, what they don’t like, that had to be my favorite part. Kids are so interesting! I’m meeting so many different children, an introvert, and extrovert, someone with depression, someone with other issues. It was both sad and heartbreaking, as well as interesting. The heartbreaking part was that sometimes you just want to pick them up from their current environment place and put them in a different environment, but you just can’t just do that.

Do you have advice for future students?

I would just say that future students should try and participate in everything. My elective was inpatient, but I asked my elective coordinator if I could come in on the weekends as I wanted to see what that was like. I wanted to visit the outpatient clinics, to learn how Americans engage in a clinic environment and how the work environment is like. Also, keep asking for feedback, I asked after every week. I wanted to know what to do better for the next week. Try to do everything, try to experience how to write notes, how to interview patients, how to conduct family meetings. Never feel shy; never think you can’t do this task. Say what you want to say, ask what you want to ask, and it actually helps you learn more. You could be wrong, but you will learn more. This experience has definitely added to my career goals because I want to go into psychiatry eventually. If I want to do residency in the United States, I need to understand the work environment here.

What did you think about UNC?

UNC stands out because you are the most caring people ever! The guidebook for preparation was very nice. There are free buses which is very helpful! I haven’t faced any major challenges. If anything came up, I talked to my attendings, fellows and 1st year residents. Everyone is really wonderful; they have treated me really nice. They made me feel at home. I am very talkative, so I would interact a lot with them and have developed many great relationships which I’ll cherish forever.

When you weren’t working, what did you do?

I formed strong friendship with other international students rotating in other departments. Over the long weekend, we went to Asheville – it was so much fun! This past weekend, we started with a church mass, then we went to a Sikh temple and had free community lunch (langar) there. And then we went to a Chinese New Year’s celebration where we learned how to do calligraphy, made Chinese lanterns, and even danced with them. We did a lot!