Erin Kindred, 4th year medical student, UNMC
Hometown: North Platte, NE
What is your education background?
I received a bachelor of science in psychology from Peru State College in 2011 and a bachelor of science in psychobiology from the University of Nebraska in Kearney in 2013.
I am currently a 4th year medical student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. I will be graduating on May 6, 2017, and have been accepted into the Creighton University Psychiatry Residency Program beginning in July.
How did you become interested in psychiatry?
After working in state government jobs (corrections officer and roads maintenance), I realized I wanted to work a job where I felt I was helping people. I had not considered going into psychiatry until I began working in a group home for teenage girls in my hometown of North Platte. Many of the girls in the home had mental illnesses and behavioral issues, and I became interested in the diseases and treatments. I was especially interested in the medications and learning about the biological basis for these mental illnesses. I got great joy out of working with the girls and seeing them improve.
I also noted how difficult it was for them to get into a psychiatrist. There were only a few psychiatrists in North Platte, and they typically didn't see the girls. Many of the medications had to be managed by the pediatricians. Some of the girls had complex issues and needed to go to a psychiatrist. It would often take months to get an appointment and they usually had to be transported to Kearney or Grand Island. I not only became interested in psychiatry, but also practicing in a rural area where the need is so great.
How have you worked with the BHECN and the Ambassador Program?
My interactions with BHECN have mostly been through my time on the board of the Psychiatry Interest Group here at UNMC. I also participated in the "Speed Dating for Mental Health Topics" put on by BHECN in May of 2015. During a tabletop discussion, I answered questions about medical school for those college students considering going into psychiatry.
What are your career aspirations?
I plan to practice in a rural part of Nebraska after I have completed my residency. At this time, I don't have plans to practice in any one specific town. I am also considering doing a Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship so that I will be able to care for children and adolescents in addition to adults. I would like to work for a hospital, possibly working in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
What advice would you give to a high school or college student interested in entering this career?
A general piece of advice for any mental health career is research the field in which you are interested.
- Investigate what education you need, which colleges provide the education you will need, and what the job entails. Shadow someone who has that career so you can get a clearer picture of it.
- Secondly, if you are interested in going to medical school, research the requirements for the medical schools to which you will be applying. Many undergraduate programs have a pre-medicine tract that includes the majority of classes you need to get into medical school, but some medical schools have additional classes that they prefer you take. There are also other requirements you should be aware of that medical schools have in addition to the pre-medicine courses. For example, you have to shadow a physician for at least 60 hours.
- My third piece of advice is don't be afraid to ask for help. If you are taking pre-medicine classes and have difficulty, reach out. Grades are an important consideration to get into medical school, but more than that you truly do need to understand the material you're learning. If you are in medical school and having issues, reach out. The schools want you to succeed and your advisors can help you.
- Also, believe in yourself! There will be some obstacles to overcome, and you should expect to have times when you wonder if you can get past it. This will occur in undergraduate school and medical school, but you can overcome them! Finally, take care of yourself. It can be difficult to find time for things other than school, but it is important to engage in activities you enjoy. Keeping yourself healthy mentally and physically will help you to do better in school, and it will also make this journey enjoyable. Undergraduate and medical school are a challenge, but I have found that it is more than worth the hard work.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I have 3 children (ages 14, 11 and 9) so a lot of my free time is spent with them. We love playing board games as a family or sitting on the patio eating s'mores in the summer. When I'm not spending time with my kids, my husband and I enjoy going to the movies together. I also enjoy photography, working in my rose garden, and going for drives in my car.
BHECN’s Ambassador Program creates a pipeline of Nebraska students interested in behavioral health beginning as early as their high school years. It follows students from high school and college, through professional school and on to careers in behavioral health.