Psychiatric Residency Interview

Psychiatric TimesVol 38, Issue 3
Volume 03

My life pasted on his wall to analyze, a flash of insight came to me: Training had begun.


-Boston, 1976

Dr Berlin has been writing a poem about his experience of being a doctor every month for the past 23 years in Psychiatric TimesTM in a column called “Poetry of the Times.” He is instructor in psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts.

The elevator squeaks up to seven,

worn carpet, a muffled, Come in!

when I knock and enter a room dimmed

to twilight, Freud’s bust, the graybeard

interviewer’s face blurred in shadow,

his hand waving me toward a chair

angled to obscure him from view,

and he gives a strange command:

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Only a little bit? At a job interview?

But his head is nodding Yes, and I talk—

med school for psychiatry, patients

I loved, books that kidnapped my attention,

growing up with a sick father,

and the helpless feeling I’d become a doctor

and still couldn’t save him, the professor

laying low in shadow, breathing Hmmm,

Uh-huh, in rhythm with my words

until that moment an hour deep

when he suddenly stands and thanks me

for coming in, for sharing so much,

my life pasted on his wall to analyze,

the flash of insight: training had begun.❒

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