A Career in Psychiatry

Updated: May 19, 2019

Psychiatry Core Trainee
Dr Jermaine Bamfo

The Melanin Medics Blog Series showcasing black Medical Professionals in various Medical Specialties. Sharing their journeys, challenges and life lessons. #RepresentationMatters. This week we're featuring a Psychiatrist!

My name is Dr Jermaine Bamfo and I am a core trainee in Psychiatry, currently completing my second year of specialty training. I am the first son of Ghanaian parents who had originally come to the UK in the mid-80s. I was born in Hackney and brought up in Shoreditch, when it was one of the most underprivileged areas in the whole of the UK and not the hipster-central we know it to be today; being brought up in that atmosphere came with its considerable challenges but I am grateful to God and my family for helping me thrive nonetheless. I left secondary school with 14 GCSEs A*-C. I applied for Medicine at A-level but unfortunately missed out on my conditional offers by the slimmest of margins. Fortunately, due to my performance at my medical interview at Liverpool I was offered a place to study Anatomy & Human Biology at the University of Liverpool, and eventually attained a First Class. I managed to get onto the highly-competitive graduate entry programme at Imperial College London, and completed the course in 2013. I did my foundation training in Northern Ireland, where I also attained a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychiatry and Mental Health from Queens Univeristy Belfast. I took an F3 year where I worked in medicine at Watford General Hospital and Medway Maritime Hospital before securing a specialty training number in Psychiatry in 2017.

Why did you choose this Specialty?

I ended up choosing to pursue Psychiatry because it was a specialty where I could marry my personal interests and my abilities and utilise them to be the best doctor I could possibly be. I have always been drawn to the stigmatised in society, and helping break down stigmas. Through my personal experiences and my work mentoring people in a variety of mediums, I have seen that mental health is a critical part of the human make-up. And with increasing societal awareness of mental health, there is an increasing demand on formal services. Not only that but I feel it is important to have greater Afro-Caribbean representation in the field in order to offset some of the well-known discriminatory issues that exist when it comes to mental health services in the UK. I wanted to play my part to effect real change, in a field that I would genuinely enjoy working in on a day by day basis.

During your time in Medical School, did you enjoy this specialty?

NO! Which is hilarious. And that’s why it’s important as medical students to always keep an open mind when it comes to specialties. Sometimes you can be drawn to the ‘sexier’ specialties but you have to keep at the forefront of your mind your ‘why’ (i.e. the reason *why* you’re pursuing medicine) and in my previous answer you can see how my *why* has led me into a career in Psychiatry. I suppose for me I hated Psych at medical school not necessarily because it may not have been the most respected of specialties but more that I had some bad experiences in a clinical placement on a Psychiatric ICU which I felt at the time were representative of what I would have to face in the specialty as a whole. It was my F2 placement which showed me the breadth of Psychiatry, the opportunities available, the work-life balance, the great attitude to educational opportunities etc. Working in that placement and seeing what was on offer, everything clicked. Unfortunately that click did not happen at medical school.