Ever wondered what its like to be a psychiatrist or what it takes? Dr. Danielle Johnson, a psychiatrist, shares the inside scoop in our latest Q & A.
What is your title?
Chief of Adult Psychiatry; Women’s Mental Health Program Director; Assistant Clinical Professor
What is your field?
How did you decide to go into your field?
It was a last minute decision. I went to medical school planning on going into a surgical field, but I was miserable during my surgery rotation. So I decided to go into family medicine so that I could have relationships with patients & still do procedures. But then, I still wasn’t passionate about it. I reflected on all of my rotations & realized that the patients I connected with the most & remembered the most were those with mental illness.
How many years did you study and train? Where did you go to school and train?
Undergraduate at University of Toledo, medical school at Drexel University, residency at University of Cincinnati. 12 years total.
What are somethings you enjoy about your chosen field?
I enjoy helping someone who was hopeless or wanted to die find a reason to live again. In psychiatry, there are not always tangible outcomes like there are in other specialties, but the intangible outcomes are meaningful: A person with anxiety is now able to speak in front of their class. A person with depression is no longer missing days at work. A person with mania returned to college. A person with an addiction stays clean. A person with psychosis is able to live on their own.
What are somethings you wish were different about your chosen field? What are some of the challenges you face within your field? Were there obstacles you had to overcome?
The field of psychiatry has a history of inhumane treatments. The field has advanced scientifically & ethically but the stigma of the past still remains. There are many people who don’t understand the difference between a psychiatrist & psychologist. At times, I have to explain the difference & remind people that I am a physician with medical training. The biggest obstacle was placed by me. I struggled with choosing psychiatry as a specialty because it was so different from what I intended to do & I didn’t want anyone to not perceive me as a “real doctor.”
What is your lifestyle like? What are your hours like? Do you take call?
I see adult inpatients & outpatients in a suburban private psychiatric hospital. I teach residents & med students. I also have administrative roles. My hours are very reasonable & I only take weekend call a few times/year. It is very family friendly. I had my son during residency & my program was very supportive. Currently, I can flex my schedule to accommodate my responsibilities as a single parent.
Is this a family friendly field? How does your work affect your family life? What advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career in your field? Would you recommend your field to them?
Psychiatry is a field that is very conducive to having a family. However, it can be emotionally strenuous which can impact family life. It is intellectually stimulating & allows you to think outside the box.
Is there anything else you would like to share with readers about your field?
Psychiatry is a varied field with many career options: inpatient, outpatient, emergency, consults, community mental health, research, academic, corrections, addictions, child/adolescent, geriatric, psychotherapy, telepsychiatry, etc. There is a shortage of psychiatrists so if you enjoy it, you’re needed.