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Celebrating success: My rewarding career journey of passion and purpose in psychiatry

Dr Claire Sinclair talks about her engaging and rewarding career in the NHS in Scotland.

Let me instroduce myself

Hello! I’m Claire, a consultant psychiatrist in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) at NHS Lanarkshire. I provide psychological support to young people up to school leaving age with moderate to severe mental health difficulties. 

I work in a busy outpatient clinic with a team of other healthcare professionals, including nurses, psychologists and AHPs. We’re also supported by a small admin team. Our service is constantly evolving to best meet the needs of the young people in our area.

Why psychiatry?

When I was at school choosing subjects and making career decisions, I knew I wanted an interesting but challenging career. Something that would be different every day. 

My mum was a nurse, so I had a good role model for a career in healthcare. I also had some work experience in a hospital. 

At medical school, I took a psychiatry elective, so I knew a career as a psychiatrist could be everything I wanted it to be. The experience inspired me to choose my career path.

Starting out as a newly qualified psychiatrist

Towards the end of my medical training, I worked as a trainee at NHS Lanarkshire. I enjoyed both the type of work and the colleagues I met. When the consultant psychiatrist who trained me retired after 22 years in post, I knew a job opportunity would be coming up. It was my first job as a newly qualified psychiatrist.

The positive role social media has played in challenging the stigma of mental ill health

I’ve worked in NHS Scotland for 28 years. During that time, I’ve noticed the positive role social media has played in helping young people challenge the stigma of mental ill health. The platforms can also support their understanding and awareness of mental health difficulties and neurodiversity.

Over the last few years, there has been a huge increase in demand for mental health support. NHS Lanarkshire has a new facility designed specifically for CAHMS services so that young people have access to high-quality services. Although our work has changed, the commitment of colleagues is incredible and essential to improving the lives of the young people we see.

Making a difference

My mornings start with either a clinic or departmental meetings. I then do some admin and reply to emails. I have another clinic in the afternoon. Our clinic appointments are either 30 minutes or one hour.

I really enjoy getting to know the young people and their families and watching the progress they make over the time we know them. I work with some of them for most of their childhood and adolescence. I feel very privileged to see the wonderful young adults they become.

I think all the small things we do in our day-to-day working lives add up to something really huge and important. Hearing a heartfelt thank you from a colleague, a young person, or a parent keeps me doing this job, even when things get difficult

What I’ve learned about myself during my psychiatry career

I’ve had to adapt and update my knowledge throughout my career. The world of CAMHS has changed so much in the last 20 years. Learning from a great team of colleagues and being supportive of others are important skills to develop.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is an essential part of my role. One positive outcome of the pandemic is the development of technology to support CPD activities and meetings. This includes both formal training and informal development opportunities with peers.

Psychiatrist outpatient clinic

Work for us

If you’re interested in bringing your psychiatry career to Scotland, I say go for it! There are lots of rewarding opportunities where you can make a real and positive difference in the lives of others.

Find out more about psychiatry jobs in NHS Lanarkshire or one of the other 13 health boards in Scotland.

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