A Day in the Life of a Psychiatrist

Dr. Joseph Sadek


I wake up, turn my coffee machine on and open the house door to let my dog go out. In few seconds he is back in again. He goes and hides under the dining room table. I know exactly what is going on. My suspicions are true. He is terrified of my neighbor’s cat and I look outside and she is right outside the door. Now my scary, guard poodle dog is waiting for a treat. I leave the door open and he runs out again. I am getting ready to go to work.  


I am in the ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy) room inside Nova Scotia Hospital. Today I will give ECT to 22 patients. ECT experience is wonderful. You see people getting better to a degree that changes the quality of their lives so much. People who were determined to end their own lives are happy and grateful to be alive. People who lost touch with others are back socializing and enjoying their families and friends. People who were hearing disturbing voices are no longer hearing them. I meet the staff bringing patients and asking them how they are doing. I become thrilled how well they do after few treatments. ECT makes my day brighter and happier. It is a great start of the day.


I am inside the Mayflower unit. My psychiatry resident, medical student and nurse meet me at the interview room. We take the charts and discuss how my patients did the previous day and then start meeting them one by one. I take the opportunity to quiz my learners and make sure they grasp the knowledge and the skills in each patient encounter.


I have a family meeting. The family is worried about their loved one. He is a young man who is refusing to take medication, attending to voices telling him he is God. He has been so agitated and restless. He hasn’t slept for six days. His father is worried about his Cocaine use and his mother is concerned that he hit his sister. We reviewed together the progression of these symptoms, his level of function before he was ill, their expectations and our plan on how we can help. The patient joined the meeting and said he is not moving to Ontario as he originally said. He continued to say that he does need medications except for marijuana. He asked if we can give him marijuana in the hospital. The nurse explained to him that street drug use is against our treatment plan. The social worker asked him about his living arrangement and he said he plans to live in a shelter. We explained to him that we can help him find a better place to live. The meeting took an hour and a half.


I received a call from a senior resident asking if we can do a review session on Thursday evening from 6 to 9 pm in preparation for the final examination in psychiatry. I agreed.


I had a meeting with a patient to discuss the final arrangements prior to discharge. The patient was very happy to be going home. She agreed to take her medications after discharge. She also agreed to see her outpatient psychiatrist and go to the support group at the outpatient clinic. She said when she was out on a pass, she dropped by her work and people told her that she looked really well. She was very happy to tell us that. I gave her a website mentalhealth.com to learn more about her Bipolar illness. I talked to her about signs of relapse.


I am driving to the Dean’s office to attend the curriculum committee meeting that ends at 6:30. This is a regular meeting to discuss the issues related to undergraduate medical education curriculum. The discussion is important. They served Sandwiches and Salad. The Cesar salad was great.


I am driving my daughter to soccer. I was late at my meeting and she was really upset. She arrived late to her game but she played the full period.


I review the case that will be given to the Med II students next week. I email the case author asking for changes.


I am so tired and ready to go to bed. As soon my head touches my pillow I am in deep sleep. This has been truly the typical day for me.