Psychiatry Interest Forum (PIF) program at 2024 Congress

Each year, the Psychiatry Interest Forum (PIF) delivers a tailored concurrent program at Congress for PIF members, providing valuable networking and educational sessions to enhance the Congress experience and provide insights into pursuing a career in psychiatry.

This year, PIF fully supported 40 PIF members, including 10 from Aotearoa New Zealand and supported 5 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members, as well as 5 Māori and Pasifika PIF members. Additionally, the College also supported to 4 PIF and Aboriginal Indigenous Doctor Association (AIDA) members. 

12 PIF members who presented abstracts at the Congress received support to cover their full or partial registration costs – marking the highest number of PIF abstract presenters in the Congress program to date!

On Sunday, as part of the PIF pre-Congress workshop, a welcome and orientation session was hosted by Dr Christina Matthews, including a Karakia by Dr Mark Lawerence. The workshop commenced with a Balint group activity, followed by a thought-provoking talk on ‘Ethics in Psychiatry’. The parallel PIF program continued with a luncheon with the CEO, President, President-Elect and Board members, three distinct networking sessions with Fellows and trainees, a specific meet & greet session for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Māori and Pasifika PIF scholars, and two social events for the PIF scholars in the evenings to allow for informal networking and in place of a Gala dinner. 

PIF would like to thank RANZCP President, Dr Elizabeth Moore, President-Elect and Chair of the PIF Advisory Group, Dr Astha Tomar, members of the Board, PIF Advisory Group, and over 30 Fellows and trainees who contributed to delivering a very engaging and successful PIF program at Congress once again.

Read some of the Australian PIF scholars’ reflections

Dr Alexander Diaz, PGY2, VIC

I had the privilege to attend the RANZCP Congress with the aid of the PIF program, which made my time in Canberra comfortable and worry free. This experience opened my eyes to a future in psychiatry both in other states and in New Zealand. The large group setting provided a beneficial simultaneous social, academic, and networking experience, leaving me feeling energised and inspired. This is an experience that you can’t normally find while in medical school or as a pre-vocational doctor. 

The academic sessions were intellectually nourishing, especially the keynote speeches. The scholarship also allowed me to present my research without financial burden, which I hope will help me stand out in future job searches.

Attending the RANZCP 2024 Congress gave me a platform for personal growth. I was given a window into various career pathways and subspecialisations within psychiatry. Through informal discussions with new mentors, it became clear to me that this was the area I wanted to work in. This experience has left me determined and passionate about a career in mental health.

Ravessha Abeykoon Mudiyanselage, Medical Student, QLD

Attending the RANZCP Congress 2024 as a PIF scholar was an incredible and transformative experience. As a final-year medical student at James Cook University, my journey into psychiatry began with a deep-seated interest in understanding the human mind and helping those grappling with mental health challenges. This Congress provided a unique platform to delve deeper into this passion.

The PIF program was exceptionally well-organised and meticulously planned, making every session both informative and engaging. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enhance my insight into psychiatry. The sessions covered a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from Balint group discussions, insights into rural psychiatry, subspecialties, and Q&A sessions with trainees, all delivered by leading experts in the field. 

One of the highlights was the opportunity to interact with skilled psychiatrists, whose wealth of experience and dedication to the field were truly inspiring. These conversations significantly strengthened my motivation to pursue a career in psychiatry. Additionally, networking with attendees provided valuable connections and a sense of camaraderie that I believe will be invaluable in my future career.

Overall, the RANZCP Congress was an enriching experience that not only broadened my knowledge but also deepened my commitment to the field of psychiatry. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and would highly recommend future PIF scholars to seize the chance to attend this remarkable event.

Read some of the New Zealand PIF scholars’ reflections

Dr James Hogg, PGY2 house surgeon, New Zealand

Attending the RANZCP 2024 Congress through the PIF program was a unique opportunity to be influenced by and positively challenged by like-minded colleagues. The space of psychiatry is a heterogeneous one. We are all colleagues who learn from each other to do the best for our patients in the space of mental health. Being exposed to such an environment further solidified my clinical interest in the space of psychiatry. Further learning about how we as colleagues interact with the human condition, keeps us very human and person-focused, which I believe is what is at the heart of medicine. 

 Congress was an opportunity to see what the latest advancements in mental health were and what our colleagues are doing from around the world. I found particular interest in the space of intellectual disability and mental health as well as forensic psychiatry. 

The PIF Scholarship was exceptionally well organised, I particularly liked our specific talks in psychiatry ethics by Dr Anne-Marie Swan and participating in a Balint Group by Dr Nish Jayarajan and Dr Rebecca Wild. 

Having networking opportunities with those who are already in the training program and those who are involved in its implementation was also very practical and helpful information when making career decisions.

Eleanor Dunn, 5th year Medical Student, New Zealand

Attending the RANZCP 2024 Congress was a transformative experience that solidified my interest in mental health. The conference featured a series of talks on diverse topics, which opened my eyes to the unique challenges and disparities in mental health care.

One of the key takeaways from the RANZCP conference was the importance of culturally competent care. The speakers highlighted the necessity for healthcare providers to not only be knowledgeable about the medical and psychological needs of diverse patient populations, but also empathetic and respectful of their identities and experiences. Hearing firsthand accounts from both professionals and individuals with lived experience about their struggles and triumphs was profoundly moving. It underscored the critical need for advocacy and improved education within the medical community to better serve all patients.

The RANZCP conference not only encouraged me to pursue psychiatry but also inspired me to advocate for inclusive and equitable healthcare practices. It was a reminder that the journey to becoming a doctor is not just about acquiring knowledge and skills but also about developing a deep sense of empathy and a commitment to social justice.

I am more determined to specialise in psychiatry and contribute to the advancement of mental healthcare. I am excited to continue learning and growing, both as a student and as a future healthcare provider dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of my patients.


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