Mentorship is central to the mission at the Child Study Center, where the lessons of teachers past are cherished, and where the interests and passions of trainees are cultivated. My first serendipitous encounter with this commitment to mentorship occurred when I was a first year Yale medical student. Child Study Center faculty led our child development course, and were clearly hoping to entice students to consider a child psychiatry career. Their enthusiasm piqued my own.
With the prodding and support of mentor-extraordinaire, Dr. Dorothy Stubbe, I found myself applying for the AACAP Spurlock Fellowship for Minority Medical Students and gearing up to spend my first summer in New Haven immersed in the world of child psychiatry. The experience left a huge imprint on me that helped guide me back to child psychiatry after training in pediatrics.
Year 1: International Formation
The most formative experience of my fellowship, an international selective on the island of Grenada, was arranged with the assistance of Dr. Shirley Alleyne. Dr. Alleyne preceded me in the child psychiatry fellowship by a few years and I had not met her in person. Nonetheless, knowing that I was part of the Child Study Center family, she tapped her networks, made introductions, gave me advice, and shared her own experience providing mental health care in the Caribbean.
While in Grenada, I had the opportunity to tour schools, orphanages, and the inpatient psychiatric hospital, whose lone pediatric patient was a scared and pregnant adolescent girl. I spent time with an inspiring pediatrician who is leading the charge to provide more mental health support within primary care practice. I met with government ministers and the director of special education. I was able to ponder and discuss the opportunities and challenges facing those who aspire to enhance early childhood development and mental health services in the Caribbean.
During my selective I powerfully synthesized my identities as a Caribbean-American woman and a child psychiatrist, and reinvigorated my interest and dedication to working in communities with limited resources.
Year 2: Community-Based Services
Back in the US, the Child Study Center fellowship provided ample opportunities for community-based mental health interventions. During my second year I was embedded with the Intensive In-Home Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services program and the Family Based Recovery Program. There I provided in-home psychiatric services to children and families facing the strains of poverty, community violence, housing and job instability. My supervisors, Drs. Joe Woolston and Yann Poncin, emphasized the importance of partnering with families and pursuing jointly-constructed treatment plans, the power of pragmatism and problem-solving skills, and the need to intervene on a systems-level: family, school, community. These second year rotations shaped my approach to child psychiatry and prepared me well for later challenges.
Post-Fellowship Work and Impact
In my current position at Children’s National Health System in DC, I am fortunate to continue along the paths cleared for me by my Yale mentors. My interest in global mental health and culturally-competent care continues. My passion for community psychiatry persists, and I have been a part of our institution’s efforts to reach out of the hospital and offer mental health services in community settings. I provide psychiatric consultation to primary care clinics in DC neighborhoods whose children have traditionally had difficulty traveling to our main hospital for mental health services, and whose families often feel less stigmatized receiving care at the pediatrician’s office.
In my work on the inpatient consultation-liaison service, I care for children and adolescents with a diverse range of physical and mental health concerns and use the problem solving and systems-based care that I learned at Yale. Happily, I have also stepped into the role of Associate Child Psychiatry Fellowship Director. I try to channel the encouraging spirit of my mentor and training director, Dr. Stubbe, to create a nurturing environment for our talented and enthusiastic fellows.
Yale Child Study Center’s commitment to mentorship and supporting trainees has been instilled in me and I owe a debt of gratitude to all my wonderful teachers.
--Martine Solages, MD
Yale Child Study Center, Class of 2012
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (Secondary), George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences/Children’s National Health System
Associate Training Director, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship
Associate Director, Psychiatric Consultation-Liaison and Emergency Department Services