WHY DID YOU GO INTO MEDICINE?
I really wanted to get to know my patients and felt that psychiatry was the perfect combination between my love of science and humanities. It's the perfect field if you love listening, observing and forging strong interpersonal relationships. I also loved women's health in medical school and felt naturally at home focusing my attention on issues around the mental health impacts of female hormone fluctuations and, especially, around the incredible physical and psychological transformation associated with becoming a mother.
WHAT IS A PASSION PROJECT OF YOURS?
I'm a board member of Maternal Mental Health Now - Los Angeles and helping everyone obtain good perinatal mental health care is very important to me.
WHO IS THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSON IN YOUR CAREER OR LIFE & WHY?
My mother. She has suffered incredible trauma and loss, yet, is one of the most resilient and optimistic people I know. She is also helping me raise my son, which allows me to continue building my career.
WHAT ARE 2 FUN FACTS ABOUT YOURSELF?
Between undergraduate school and medical school I attended culinary school. During this time, I wanted to make sure that I wanted to commit the rest of my 20s to studying medicine. Though I love cooking and a have all the respect for anyone working in a professional kitchen, I realized I couldn't stand on my feet for hours at a time-- so it also ruled out surgery for me as a specialty. I really ended up with the professional where I sit maybe a little too much!
I was born in Los Angeles but my mom, who is bilingual, decided to only teach me Spanish at home to make sure that I would have a native Colombian accent in Spanish. Apparently, I went to an English-speaking preschool not knowing a word of English and would "invent" my own English that nobody could understand. Luckily I don't remember this and at that age, I learned English in no time.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE TO FUTURE MDS?
I want to give hope to non-traditional applicants. I majored in Art History in college and went to culinary school in addition to fulfilling my premedical requirements and felt that it made me stand out. Do what you love and not necessarily what you think will "look good" on applications. I think medical schools and residencies look for authenticity in their applicants. I also hope that those interested in psychiatry can move beyond some of the stigma in the field about not being "a real doctor" and know that psychiatry is a rapidly evolving field, especially with developments in neuroscience. I know it's hard but I hope for those interested they are able to stand up to that criticism-- I feel I'm just as much of a doctor as anyone in my med school class.
For more information, be sure to contact her on Instagram @sarahoreckmd