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Dr. Ankur Saraiya

People often ask if I always knew that I wanted to be a psychiatrist and the answer is that I both did know and didn’t know.  Here’s what I mean.  When I started college, I had no idea what I wanted to study and even less of an idea of what I wanted to do for work eventually.  I just did my best to follow my interests and keep my options open.  I ended up choosing to study biology as a major in college because I was fascinated by the human body (and the human brain). 

People assumed that I was headed to medical school just based on majoring in biology but I wasn’t as sure.  I did (obviously) end up going to medical school, but even at that point I had no idea that I would end up as a psychiatrist.  In fact, I probably would have regarded psychiatry one of the least likely fields I would end up in.  Back then, I could not understand why anyone who wanted to work in psychology would bother with medical school.  Of course now I am keenly aware of the central importance of physiology and medical issues in understanding psychological problems so I am very happy at the path I ended up taking to get here.

So what did have me end up pursuing psychiatry?  First, as interested as I was in people’s physical problems that brought them to the hospital, I found that I was even more interested in their stories, their lives, and the entire process that led to them getting sick, not just the immediate cause, but the entire narrative.

The second factor is that as interesting and amazing as the human body is, there is a limit to what one needs to know to be a good surgeon or cardiologist.  It’s a lot, don’t get me wrong, and incredibly important but as I thought about my career and what I would do for 40 or more years, it struck me that psychiatry would stay interesting the entire time because each person is a brand new challenge and would hold my interest year after year.  I have to say that I was right about this.

I approach work every day with a giddiness about what new story I am going to hear.  Now some people may think that my excitement is strange as after all I am working with people with psychiatric problems!  What people don’t realize is that psychiatric patients get better!  We have very effective treatments in psychiatry so even though people can be suffering quite profoundly when they first come to see me, I have every reason to believe that they are going to get better, and they do.  What a great job to be able to help people get better and then help keep them well.

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Board Certified in General and Forensic Psychiatry


Harvard University Bachelor's Degree

Columbia University Medical Degree and Residency


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