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From the Editors-in-Chief: Open Conversations for in-Training Mental Health Week

Back in April of this year, we came across an article published in JAMA Psychiatry that called to attention the poor state of mental health for many physicians-in-training. We were excited by the publication of this seminal piece, an opportunity for medical educators, students and institutions to have an earnest conversation about the ugly stain of burnout and suicide that tarnishes the healing profession.

What followed was silence. The open conversations we hoped for on this vital issue never came.

Frustrated, we turned to our in-Training Facebook page and unloaded our thoughts. We were not alone in the desire to air our grievances — writers and editors emerged to say, “I want to tell my story,” and “I wrote a piece to share,” and “Yes, we must respond!” There was a clarion call by the staff to utilize our platform for the greater good of our colleagues.

In that moment, it became very clear to us that as the principal online publication for medical students, it is our responsibility to bring these conversations to the forefront. Addressing issues of mental health, wellness and burnout in medical education is a pure manifestation of our mission to build a community of support for physicians-in-training across the globe.

The articles published during in-Training Mental Health Week are the products of months of deep reflection on what it means to be a medical student, and what it means to be “well” as a physician. These pieces are meant to be the initial sparks of conversations on issues of the hidden curriculum, on topics whispered behind closed doors and never discussed openly.

This week, you will hear stories of personal and collective triumphs. You will read of survival and loss. You will understand the strength that embodies the medical student community. We share these stories so that medical students know that we stand as one, a unified front that finds strength from within and burns with our passion for the healing arts.

As you read each piece, please reflect on your own growth and wellness as you navigate medical school. Think about the peers around you. If you need a place to tell your own story, in-Training is here. If your colleague is struggling, lead an ear. If you need help, know that you are not alone.

And most importantly, let these discussions continue beyond this week. Let this week be a launching point to enact comprehensive reform in how we approach mental health in our community. Let this week change what it means to be physicians-in-training.

Aleena Paul, MD, MBA Aleena Paul, MD, MBA (9 Posts)

Founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Albany Medical College

My name is Aleena Paul, and I am a member of the Albany Medical College Class of 2016. I graduated from Union College in Schenectady, NY, with an interdisciplinary major in biology and sociology as part of the Leadership in Medicine program. I subsequently completed an MBA in Healthcare Management from Union Graduate College. I currently serve as the American Medical Women's Association’s National Publications Chair.

I enter the medical field with special interests in advocating for women’s health issues, improving physician cultural competency, and addressing the medical needs of our underserved communities. I am enthusiastic about discussing these issues with my peers, as well as working to ensure that all medical students are able to find a balance between their medical educations and the passions that first brought them into the field of medicine.

Ajay Major, MD, MBA Ajay Major, MD, MBA (12 Posts)

Founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

University of Colorado School of Medicine

My name is Ajay Major, a Class of 2016 graduate of Albany Medical College and an internal medicine resident at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

My journey into medical journalism and publishing began in April 2012 when I founded in-Training, the online magazine for medical students, and served as editor-in-chief for four years. I also founded in-House, the online magazine for residents and fellows, and The Palate, an online magazine for medical students at the intersection of nutrition and public health.

To support these publications, I founded Pager Publications, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit literary corporation that curates and supports peer-edited publications for the medical education community. In May 2016, Pager Publications, Inc. published its first print book, in-Training: Stories from Tomorrow's Physicians, a print compendium of over 100 articles written and edited by medical students on humanism, our real-life patients, and the challenges of being a physician-in-training. In November 2017, we published our second print book, Family Doc Diary: A Resident Physician’s Reflections in Fifty-Two Entries, a print collection that chronicles the journey of an intern physician in the form of fifty-two entries from her personal art journal.

I am also a lover of all things science fiction and fantasy (Star Trek: Voyager is my favorite -- apologies to all you Picard fans), and I play classical piano and clarinet.