December 21, 2023

Beyond Solo Practice: Thriving through Networking and Community in Private Psychiatry

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The power of community and networking in private practice psychiatry cannot be overstated.

Clinicians often grapple with isolation while staying up-to-date on research, best practices, finding mentors, and collaborative care. Addressing this, a panel of experts from the Osmind Community Advisory Board.

Listen to the full discussion here:

The forum, centered on overcoming the challenges of solo practice through community engagement featured insights from:

  • Andrew Penn, MS, PMHNP, Clinical Professor at UC San Francisco, School of Nursing
  • Dr. Michael Banov, Medical Director at Psych Atlanta
  • Dr. Awais Aftab, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University
  • Charles Miller, CRNA, Founder and CMO at Scenic City Neurotherapy
  • Moderated by: Dr. Alison McInnes, VP of Scientific Affairs at Osmind, and Dr. Carlene MacMillan, Chief Medical Officer at Osmind.

Read on to learn why community is not just a support system, but the very foundation of a successful psychiatry private practice.

The Role of Conferences and In-Person Networking in Shaping Psychiatry Practice

Conferences in psychiatry not only serve as platforms for learning but also as vital spaces for networking, sharing experiences, and staying abreast of cutting-edge practices. Our panelists from the Osmind Community Advisory Board emphasize the multifaceted benefits of these gatherings.

Andrew Penn on Continuous Learning and Networking at Psych Congress

Andrew Penn, a clinical professor at UC San Francisco School of Nursing, underlined the transformative impact of conferences like Psych Congress on his professional trajectory: "It's been a delight to be part of that community. The conference draws about 2,500 people a year, and it's been a journey of learning and education, one that forces me to stay current both as a learner and an educator." For you, as a clinician, such platforms offer invaluable opportunities to engage with peers and remain informed.

Dr. Michael Banov on Broadening Horizons by attending a mix of niche and broad conferences

Dr. Michael Banov, the Medical Director at Psych Atlanta, highlighted the necessity of diverse perspectives in mental health: "You don't want a community that's too narrow in focus. So, I go to very conventional conferences... and integrative medicine conferences." Banov's approach reminds you to explore various realms within psychiatry, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the field.

Dr. McInnes added, “Staying in touch with the research is crucial for me. I narrow the focus somewhat to mood and anxiety disorders." She expressed her fondness for the Oxford International Ketamine Conference, noting, "It's at Oxford, and it's really astounding to stand where Oscar Wilde stood."

The Importance of Networking at Conferences

Dr. Banov also highlighted the value of informal interactions at these events: "The best learning is during the lunches and the dinners and the breaks where you just kind of go off with your colleagues." Such interactions provide opportunities to discuss experiences and gain practical insights.

You never know who you’ll meet or what ideas will spark. Remember, your journey in psychiatry is not just about the knowledge you acquire but also about the connections you forge—between peers and ideas. Conferences offer a unique blend of learning, networking, and inspiration, essential for any clinician aspiring to excel in private practice.

Digital Resources: Staying Ahead in Psychiatry Online

Long gone are the days of poring through card catalogs and dusty textbooks to find the latest research. The internet provides a double-edged sword of the world’s knowledge at your fingertips, and the overwhelm of drinking from a firehose—forcing us to find signal amidst the noise.

Leveraging Social Media for Current Mental Health Research

Dr. Aftab discussed his strategic use of social media, particularly Twitter, as a primary resource for new research information. He follows various researchers in psychiatry, psychology, and behavioral neuroscience, which offers him a curated and somewhat triaged selection of significant research to focus on. This approach allows him to access distilled information that is most relevant to his practice. He notes, "I'm following the people I'm sort of familiar with their work. I respect their opinion and seeing what research they're publishing or finding noteworthy."

Breaking Out of the Echo Chamber

A critical aspect of using social media effectively is breaking out of the echo chamber. Dr. Aftab emphasizes the importance of engaging with diverse perspectives, including skeptical voices and those who think differently about topics. This practice not only provides a more rounded understanding of various subjects but also exposes him to research and viewpoints he might not otherwise encounter. Engaging in vibrant and academic discussions on these platforms further enriches his knowledge base.

Blogs and Newsletters for In-Depth Analysis

In addition to social media, Dr. Aftab relies heavily on the blogosphere. He maintains a Substack newsletter, “Psychiatry at the Margins” where he discusses developments and controversies in science, offering in-depth analysis and insights. This platform serves as an additional resource for keeping up-to-date with scientific debates and emerging trends in psychiatry.

Leveraging Virtual Communities for Professional Enrichment

The discussion shifted to the pivotal role of virtual communities, like Osmind, in supporting private practice clinicians. Dr. Miller shared his approach to staying informed and engaged: "I like to find things to share, and I like the stuff that other clinicians share. It creates wonderful dialogue, which is how we grow." Participating in a curated community of like-minded clinicians compounds your growth through support and mind-melding.

Dr. Miller also touched upon the practical benefits of Osmind’s virtual community: "I can share that with somebody who's just starting off running into the same issue that we ran into years ago." Osmind hosts exclusive virtual events with thought leaders, ranging from the latest ketamine research to private practice strategies. Rather than scouring uncurated Facebook groups, you get a dedicated space to share resources, problem-solve, and benefit from both seasoned practitioners and those new to the field.

Dr. Aftab emphasized the unique advantages of the Osmind community, especially for those interested in interventional modalities like ketamine and TMS: "The Osmind community is a big resource for people who are interested in private practice, who have questions about the logistics of it." He highlighted the community's role in helping clinicians apply research evidence to their practice and translate scientific information into actionable strategies.

The Value of Imposter Syndrome, Beginner’s Mind and Teaching

As an expert in the field of psychiatry, your role involves not only absorbing the latest evidence but also imparting knowledge through teaching. This dual role of learner and educator is a key aspect of staying informed in a constantly evolving field. Andrew Penn aptly describes this: "It's been a journey of learning and education, one that forces me to stay current both as a learner and as an educator." Teaching, in this regard, is not just about conveying knowledge but also reinforcing your own understanding. As Penn explains, "The value in teaching is that it really forces me to maintain a current grasp of the literature."

Dr. Aftab's involvement with publications such as Psychiatric Times and Current Psychiatry provides him with a platform for clinical and research updates. Additionally, teaching psychiatry residents about controversies in psychopharmacology forces him to stay current with the literature, reinforcing his knowledge and understanding of ongoing debates in the field.

The more you delve into a subject, the more you realize the depths of what you don’t know. This acknowledgment keeps your approach to psychiatry dynamic and open-minded. Penn sums it up: "I think the goal of education should be to keep us a little bit hungry, not always to fully satiate us." Embracing the unknown and continuously seeking new knowledge is a fundamental part of being a successful psychiatrist.

In line with this philosophy, Penn also encourages openness to being wrong, a crucial attitude for staying ahead in psychiatry: "Psychiatry is littered with ideas that didn’t pan out, and that’s okay." Letting go of outdated or ineffective ideas is as important as embracing new ones.

Complementing Penn's insights, Charles Miller highlights the importance of vigilance and open-mindedness: "Keep a little bit of imposter syndrome; it keeps you always seeking information." This continuous quest for knowledge and adaptability is vital in the rapidly advancing field of psychiatry.

Conclusion: The Power of Community in Private Psychiatry Practice

The forum concluded with a powerful reminder from Dr. MacMillan about the importance of investing in people and the community: "It really takes a village to solve the problems that lay ahead." This sentiment encapsulates the essence of the forum and why Osmind hosts a virtual community of over 500 forward-thinking clinicians. Being in solo practice doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Join us in continuous learning, and stay adaptable at psychiatry’s frontier.

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