College President Dr Lorcan Martin opens NCHD Conference 2023
NCHD Conference 2023 Opening Address
College President, Dr Lorcan Martin addressed over 100 Non Consultant Doctors (NCHDs) at their annual conference in Dublin today, 24th February 2023, highlighting developments in the practice of psychiatry has come and what these trainee doctors can look forward to in their careers.
Good morning, everyone. Thank you for your invitation to open your NCHD conference and it gives me great pleasure that my first formal engagement as President of the College is to address the psychiatrists of the future. I would like to acknowledge the dedication of the Trainee Committee in consistently producing quality conferences over the years, including during the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the risk of sounding like a fossil, I can say that I have seen Psychiatry change considerably in the thirty-something years since I started training. Unwieldy legislation, burgeoning regulation and enough paperwork to deforest a medium-sized country have become facts of life for us. However, we must never lose sight of our patients as our focus and things have also changed for the better – we have better-resourced multi-disciplinary teams (though still a way to go in some areas), access to interventions we didn’t before and improved infrastructure. However, we must make sure that well-resourced, high-quality care becomes standard and is not dependent on where one lives. I know it can seem like psychiatry is on the receiving end of a lot of negative attention, media and otherwise. Be not disheartened, as that pendulum is swinging, largely through the hard work of College members, and that work will continue, ideally with your support and input.
On the upside, training in psychiatry has improved dramatically. Gone are the days when you had to canvas for your next job, supervision depended on the nature of your consultant and finding a HST post was a lottery. While today’s training commitments may seem onerous at times, the scheme is structured and trainee-focussed and I would like to pay tribute to the Post-Graduate Training Department for all their hard work.
The challenges facing a 21st Century doctor can make one very career-focussed, which, in itself, is not a bad thing. However, we must not forget the vocational aspect of what we do. Because of the vulnerability of those who seek our help, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. The doctor-patient relationship is a unique one, going back millennia. It involves a duty of care and a set of dynamics unlike any other. It is why doctors have patients, not clients, not service users, not customers and not any other euphemism placed on this most ancient and honourable relationship.
Psychiatry is a scientific medical specialty but it is also about people. It is about your patients and their families, it is about supporting your colleagues and it is about taking care of yourselves so that your career is fulfilling and sustainable.
You are the future of our College. You have the ability to shape what we become and how relevant we are. As a College, we must be strong, united and innovative. Trainees already make substantial contributions whether it is through PTC, the Trainee Committee or other ways. There are many other options for you to become involved and the College welcomes all input, ideas or suggestions. Now, and in the future, you will be called upon to advocate for your patients and services. You are not voices in the wilderness and the College EAP department will advise, guide and support you whether it is with stakeholders or the media.
After all, it is your College.
Despite the apparent burden of exams, courses and workplace-based assessments, I would urge you to enjoy your training. Use it as a time to enquire, develop and find out who you can be. It is a time when you can make friends who will be lifelong and be a support to you when you need it.
I would like to wish you all a very enjoyable and successful conference and remember…