Leave a comment

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 one of the founders of in-Training. I am currently a General Internal Medicine and Academic General Pediatrics Fellow at Hofstra/Northwell Health, where I am pursuing a Masters in Health Professions Education. My research interests include the use of the humanities for medical education, women's leadership in medicine, addressing health disparities through advocacy, and providing quality primary care medicine. I graduated from Albany Medical College in 2016 and subsequently completed a combined internal medicine and pediatrics residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

I currently serve as the editor-in-chief for in-House, the online publication for residents and fellows, and as a founding member of Pager Publications, a 501c3 non-profit literary corporation that curates and supports peer-edited publications for the medical education community.

In my free time, I enjoy skimming through The New Yorker, catching up on science fiction shows, wandering through museums and forests, and long conversations with friends.

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

Founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

The University of Chicago

My name is Ajay Major, and I am currently a fellow in adult hematology and oncology at the University of Chicago. I am a Class of 2016 graduate of Albany Medical College and finished my residency in internal medicine at the University of Colorado in 2019.

My journey into narrative medicine and publishing began in April 2012 when I founded in-Training, the online peer-reviewed publication for medical students, and served as editor-in-chief for four years. I also founded in-House, the online peer-reviewed publication for residents and fellows, and currently serve as editor-in-chief since 2016.

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 2014. We currently provide administrative and financial support for six publications: in-Training, in-House, The Palate, North Wing Magazine, Mosaic in Medicine, and Intervene Upstream.

Since our inception, Pager Publications, Inc. has published four books, most recently Salve: Words For The Journey, a compilation of poetry, prose, and journaling prompts written by psychiatrist and author Monisha Vasa, MD.

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