Some Words for the Graduates


One psychiatrist shares some words of wisdom for the class of 2022.



Many years ago, I wrote in a personal journal a list I called “Things of Value I Would Say in 5 Minutes.” This was my way of getting past my inner censor to arrive at what I felt was truly important.

I have always taught psychiatry trainees that being an effective psychiatrist demands constant work on oneself. Although this internal work may be helpful in other disciplines, in psychiatry, it is essential.

During my last formal seminar with graduating trainees, I began to share my list in the hope that some of these points would resonate. Over the years, my list evolved into this poem.


You’ve put in your time,

Read all the books on your shelf.

Now is the time

To put trust in your self.


You’ve learned to define

What’s abnormal, that’s true.

Don’t let anyone define

What you can and can’t do.


You’ve been through the trials


And learned to adapt

To meetings on screens.


You’ve seen face to face

That the world’s full of pain.

So, here are some tips

To help you keep sane:


Laugh often and much

But avoid the sarcastic.

And always keep learning,

So your brain stays elastic.


With time, money or love

Though hard to believe,

It’s best to give more

Than you expect to receive.


Sometimes you will lose;

Other times you’re a winner.

Now and then, simply let yourself

be a Beginner.


Though time forever feels short,

Read great novels and stories.

Be someone else for a while—

Live with their trials and glories.


Ask lots of questions

Wherever you go.

Never pretend

To know more than you know.


You’ll convince no one else

To hold your point of view

Unless you allow

That their view could be true.


Finally, training does come to an end,

As the long, paved road to the dirt gives yield—

Imagine the seeds you could plant

In those vast unplowed fields.


Some say to love everything—

It’s all for the best.

That may be a path

For the saints and the blessed.

Why not love what you can

And learn from the rest?

Dr Sugar is an Adjunct Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, a Consulting Psychiatrist at the California State University, Long Beach Trauma Recovery Center, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

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