The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of BehaveNet, Inc.


What do surgery residents hate about taking call every other night? They miss half of the cases.


Experience plays a critical role in psychiatry as in the rest of medicine, but some inconvenient truths can get in the way:

  • There is always a first time using every treatment.

  • The more time a psychiatrist spends with each patient, the fewer patients in the practice, and the slower experience will accumulate.


Other truths may compensate:

  • The psychiatrist can benefit from the experience of colleagues.

  • The psychiatrist can benefit from education.


Still others are mixed:

  • The greater the psychiatrist's willingness to try a new drug or other treatment on a patient (use them as guinea pigs?) the more subsequent patients benefit from that experience.

  • The more often the psychiatrist makes a particular diagnosis, the more experience she will gain with its treatment.


How does a psychiatrist achieve the right balance? How much should a psychiatrist tell the patient about their experience (or lack thereof) with a proposed treatment? How does a patient find a psychiatrist whose handling of these realities fits his own values?

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