My pursuit of Psychiatry and my career focus has much to do with my appreciation for the vantage point that it provides me, particularly concerning the relationship between neuroscience and medical treatments, in the context of psychodynamic processes of many kinds. I thrive on reflecting on the complexities of the human psyche, the gratification of healing relationships, and the satisfaction that accompanies improving the quality of life for myself and others. Childhood is the most impactful time in a human being’s life. The rapidly changing neuronal network shapes us into the adults we become, and it lays the foundation of our social and cultural framework. Our ability to make connections, empathize and think are rooted in our early years.
During the completion of my residency program in Psychiatry, I had the privilege of taking care of an 11-year-old girl with a history of complex trauma, neglect, and sexual molestation. Initially, she presented poor verbal skills, incontinence, and severe emotional dysregulation. In distress, she would regress to a point where she would mimic the posture and sounds of a cat. Even though she would have lifelong disabilities resulting from developmental trauma, I was most intrigued and inspired by the rapid and extensive progress she could make over the seven months of residential treatment she spent with us. Many of my experiences in this position as a resident in Psychiatry vastly enhanced my appreciation and profound respect for the resiliency of human beings and the power of empathy.
I was already well engaged with child psychiatry by the time I started my residency, partly due to serving as an outreach worker with the African American Mental Health Coalition in San Bernardino County, one of the most underserved communities in California. I saw firsthand the psychological distress of a community plagued by drugs, domestic abuse, and gun violence. I saw children traumatized by police raids and forcibly removed from their homes. Children who developed PTSD from police sirens as they worried that their loved ones might be taken away from them or would not be there when they returned home from school. Trauma is not just advertent; it is accidental, circumstantial, and societal. I understand how adverse childhood experiences contribute to mental illness, learning disabilities, addiction, medical illness, and unhealthy interpersonal relationships. We live in a time of growing ethnic, racial, and religious polarities. Thus, I feel that the issues in which I am engaged at my core are most timely in today´s American and today´s world. In particular, I seek a total immersion experience in examining intergenerational trauma and its most enduring impact.
As a mother, I understand the importance of a nurturing home up close and the gratification of a positive parent-child relationship. I believe that as much as psychiatry bears the burden of treating pathologies, we are equally responsible for teaching people the skills of positive psychology and resilience building. Although most of my patients have endured traumatic life experiences, they have also overcome adversities, and some have turned their lives around. Child psychiatry allows me to track the development of psychopathologies and offer early interventions, teaching positive psychology skills and medical interventions. I look forward to working with local schools to design trauma-informed curricula incorporating resiliency-building skills.
I find managing medically complex cases intellectually stimulating, and diagnostic challenges posed especially exciting. I look forward to helping to contribute to research in novel neuromodulation therapies. I want to work in an academic setting as part of a multidisciplinary team managing patients in first break units and consultation services. I enjoy working with families and educating them about the biopsychosocial model of care.
I was raised in the undulating dunes of Arabia. I went to medical school in Pakistan. I then hopped continents and came to America. My background has enabled me to understand various communities' cultural diversity and sensitivities. I find gratification in treating people who are often misread, misunderstood, and shunned by society. They live behind a mask and suffer in silence; after all, it is how you think, feel, and act. I see child psychiatry as the most vital need of our times. It provides the platform to help society become psychologically literate and raise responsible, emotionally sound, empathic individuals.
I hope to be selected for a fellowship position in Child Psychiatry. I look forward to a long professional lifetime helping to address issues of disparity in access and utilization of mental health resources among minority group children. I want to contribute to the success of mental health initiatives globally in societies traumatized by war and natural disasters. I see your fellowship program as ideal to advance my education, standing, confidence, creativity, and credentials to become the most successful advocate possible for vulnerable children.
Thank you for considering my application to your distinguished fellowship program in Child Psychiatry.