Introduction to Training in the West Midlands

The West Midlands Postgraduate School for Psychiatry offers trainees a wealth of learning opportunities, both clinical and non-clinical, which enable an individual to progress though a dedicated training programme.  This commences from day one of training to its completion and the award of a Certificate of Completed Training (CCT).

Psychiatry is a specialist and innovative branch of medicine involved in all aspects of care in the treatment of patients suffering from acute to enduring mental health problems. Mental illness is non-discriminatory and can affect all areas of society. This specialism is holistic in its approach involving a multidisciplinary team to assess and manage the patient but also supporting carers/families. Physical health is also a core component of treatment in this cohort of patient. The general life expectancy in psychiatric patients is significantly less than that of the general population.  Uniquely this field enables trainees to use and develop both their mental health and physical health skills to become a well-rounded clinician.

The mainstay of treatment involves both pharmacological and psychological therapies. There is scope to be involved and learn about all forms of treatment. Leadership, quality improvement and research are other key skills that are nurtured and promoted within the field.

Psychiatry is composed of a number of sub-specialisms.  There are six main areas, each currently leading CCT; General adult psychiatry, old age psychiatry, psychotherapy, the psychiatry of learning disability, child & adolescent psychiatry, and forensic psychiatry.  Over the past few years, dual training has also been available and is increasingly popular amongst trainees with the outcome of achieving a CCT in 2 sub-specialities.

In addition other areas of psychiatry are evolving including neuropsychiatry, liaison psychiatry, psychiatry of addictions, perinatal psychiatry and eating disorder. There are opportunities for trainees to explore these fields and partake in core training placements.

Psychiatry services are provided to defined catchment areas (usually a number of GP practices, or a geographical area) or around specific conditions, settings or treatment modalities. Experience can be gained in both inpatient and outpatient settings (Community Mental Health Teams; CMHTs). As well as in specialist services such as Assertive Outreach Teams (AOT), Early Intervention Services (EIS)  for psychosis and Crisis Resolution/Home Treatment teams.

The breadth and diversity of mental health problems particularly in the current climate has provided new challenges and will no doubt provide evolvement in practice for the future.