About Bilal Bari, MD, PhD
“Residency will be over before you know it.” This was a sentiment I couldn’t fathom when I started intern year and one I now find myself repeating before gearing up for PGY-3. Reflecting on the experience, residency has been a tremendous opportunity of learning, growth, and development of lifelong friendships. The past two years have not been without their challenges since there are simply too many demands on one’s time to fulfill all personal and professional obligations without sacrifices. Despite this, there is nothing else I would rather have spent the last two years doing, and I’m honored and humbled to develop as a psychiatrist in the MGH/McLean psychiatry residency.
They say you don’t know what you don’t know and my first day of residency on Blake 11, our inpatient med-psych unit, brought that thought into sharp focus. Patient complexity and patient care doesn’t slow down when you’re a fresh intern, and I found myself inundated with leading patient interviews all the while juggling diagnoses, medications, progress notes, discharge summaries, new admissions, etc… Despite the possibility, I never became overwhelmed. I was deeply supported by my co-interns, senior residents, Blake chief residents, and attendings. Days turned into weeks and I discovered what was a challenge early on became automatic, allowing my mind to focus on being a psychiatrist. By the end of my Blake 11 rotations, I discovered a personal ease in conducting challenging interviews, thinking through differentials, and treatment courses, all the while handling the myriad tasks required of interns, and never once did I feel myself unsupported by my colleagues.
This experience was a microcosm of my greater residency experience. I spent my medicine months at MGH, which had similar high demands. My very first day was a call shift on the Bigelow service, where I would spend 24 hours in the hospital caring for over two dozen patients overnight and admitting new patients who I would present to the team the next morning. Like my time on Blake 11, I was immediately well supported, and even managed to get an hour of sleep that very first night. While the time for sleep has been hit-or-miss, the sense of community in the hospital has been a constant.
As a research resident in the PSTP, I expected needing to place my research interests off to the side to match the demands of residency. I was pleasantly surprised to discover enough pockets of time throughout various rotations to keep some of my work moving forward, as well as initiate new projects. One exciting project I completed was a cross-sectional study (new territory for me!) assessing the prevalence of vitamin C deficiency in our Blake 11 med-psych inpatients. This was an opportunity that only developed because of my time on Blake 11, highlighting a synergy that residency is able to provide my research interests.
On a personal note, I moved to the Boston area with my wife and our (now) 10-year-old dog (who we thought was an English shepherd until a genetic test revealed he was just incredibly mixed). We quickly fell in love with Cambridge and feel right at home with the small-town, communal feel of the city. Our dog took a bit longer to adjust but now looks like he’s lived here his entire life. I have also grown close to my co-residents and can’t imagine doing this program without their energy.
The highlights of this program are the people, the sense of camaraderie, and the emphasis on well-being. With residency halfway finished, I can’t wait to see what the other half holds.