I am Dr Shivam Gakkhar, currently doing my post graduation at Andhra Medical College


I am Dr Shivam Gakkhar, currently doing my post graduation at Andhra Medical College (Government Hospital for Mental Care), Visakhapatnam. I am originally from Jaipur, Rajasthan.

This post is specially for those who are intrested in taking PSYCHIATRY branch in the near future.

As I complete 1 year in this branch, I would like to share my experiences which might prove helpful for some of you. This post is not to ‘guide’ anyone. This is just a 2nd year resident speaking about his own experiences.

  1. Concept of ‘DREAM BRANCH’

Everyone has certain options in their mind as to what branch they would like to take after MBBS. I too had General Medicine and Psychiatry in my mind as I waited desperately for my results. I was very clear, if I get a rank <6k, I will go with General medicine. If not then Psychiatry (just my thought process at the time). So I was sure of ending up in either of these two branches . I got decent rank (11k) last year and decided to opt for Psychiatry. But hold on. What if my rank was not good enough to get me either of these two branches ? And what if I only had ENT and anesthesia to choose from ? Would I have waited for another year. A big NO. It’s totally a personal choice. I know people who are trying year after year just to get the branch of their choice in the college of their choice. And I don’t ridicule them. Again it’s their personal choice. So this whole concept of 'DREAM BRANCH ’ is basically what you like the most and what would suit your idea of life. Please think twice before forgoing the branches you are getting. Because with every passing year competition is increasing like anything. And once you decide, just stand by your decision. Whatever it may be. However difficult it may be.


Since we have very little exposure in UG, I had very different perception of Psychiatry before I started my Post graduation. Only thing I knew was to pronounce ‘SCHIZOPHRENIA’ correctly. And may be solve some MCQs after reading my coaching notes. But once i entered the clinical setting, I realised it is so different. The most important thing in psychiatry is HISTORY. Not just the usual HOPI, past , personal and family history. History that includes an exact timeline of how the present disease evolved, how various stressors played their role and present status’ relation with person’s home/work environment. So one has to have little bit of patience + history eliciting skills in order to extract everything. And skills can be developed. It’s not like one has to be ‘born skilled’ or ‘mentally tough’ or ‘smart’ or anything. Just reading standard history taking books and watching seniors and consultants elicit and actually taking as many patient interviews as possible can easily help one in honing their skills. Formulating diagnoses and prescribing treatment again comes with experience.


I have heard many people say - “X branch has become saturated. Y branch is evergreen. In Z branch you need 15-20 years to gain experience and have good practice” etc etc. And most of it comes from fellow medical science people . Frankly speaking, if you are good enough, you will excel in whatever branch you choose. I have consultants in my hospital who within few years of practice have risen to the very top. And then there are some who despite passing out from premier institutions, for some reason or the other, have average practice.

DM courses in India are limited to 3 super speciality branches - child and adolescent, de-addiction and geriatric. And very few institutes offer DM courses (NIMHANS, AIIMS, KGMC ) with hardly 10-15 seats in total every year.

Many institutions in India and abroad offer amazing fellowships post PG. Again it’s a matter of personal choice.

  1. ‘STIGMA’

‘पागलों का डॉक्टर’ , ‘लोग क्या बोलेंगे’, ‘खुद हिल जाएगा Psychiatry लेकर’ are some of the common lines I heard last year when I decided to opt for Psychiatry. Even my parents had their own reservations. But I was quite adamant. And I feel very proud of myself everyday for not dwindling and succumbing then. Because once you enter this branch, you get to know how it actually is and how differently it is viewed by people in India. Afterall, ‘कुछ तो लोग कहेंगे, लोगों का काम है कहना’.


Since history is the most important thing, language does play an important role in Psychiatry. So I would advice people to fill those colleges first where their mother tongue is the main language. After that you can go with other state colleges. I for instance knew that it would be almost impossible to get a seat in my state and I filled quite a few south India colleges. Luckily I got one of the top Psychiatry institutes in the country. And since Telugu is the main language here, I was initially perturbed (What if I am not able to learn it ?) But consistent efforts and fellow colleagues’ support helped me a lot and now I can speak/understand basic Telugu which is needed in the branch. And my parents now find it quite fascinating when they hear their Punjabi son speaking Telugu well. So language can be learnt in a few months and I would advice not to leave good colleges just because of the language thing.

If you have decided to pursue PSYCHIATRY then I can assure you, you are in for a very satisfying and thrilling ride. Provided you continue to stay focused and work hard everyday. Thank you.

PS - I didn’t include certain commonly asked queries as I feel I don’t know much about them . Other knowledgeable people would be able to answer them better .

(Such as MD vs DNB, college preference order, settling abroad after PG etc.)

Is it!?..I aslo now took one of the Medicine branch in a top institution,Where language is the main issue for me…Even I couldn’t put notes… feeling hard… Everyone saying you’ll learn gradually like them but if I ask them clearly they can understand initially while joining now fluent,but I don’t know single word…