Vanessa H. Eaglin
Class of 1994
Class of 1997
By Gloria Kobayashi
Siblings Vanessa and Chadd Eaglin are both residents at the University of Hawaii Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry. Vanessa has graduated in the general psychiatry residency program and is specializing in child and adolescent psychiatry, planning to graduate in June, 2008. Chadd is in the general psychiatry residency program, with plans to graduate in June 2010. As interns they rotate through inpatient and outpatient practices in all phases of general medicine, including geriatric medicine, neurology and emergency room.
Vanessa has a BA in liberal studies from UH Manoa and a doctorate from the John A. Burns School of Medicine. Chadd has a BA in biology and attended medical school at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. The road to becoming a psychiatrist is a long one: four years of medical school, followed by four years of residency, more if you choose a specialty such as child and adolescent psychiatry, that Vanessa is pursuing.
Both siblings say that the psychiatry residency program in Hawaii is one of the best programs in terms of training experiences and patient population. Faculty members are easy to approach and enjoy being teachers. Patients may be difficult, but are usually fun to work with and have interesting stories to tell. And the laidback atmosphere in Hawaii makes the work more enjoyable. There is social interaction among all parties and the program sponsors such events as forensics night, a book club and dinner at a faculty member’s home. The most rewarding part of patient care is when you see them getting better. The worse part: is having to watch a patient die or when treatment needs to be terminated. Psychiatrists need to be good listeners, possess caring, empathy and patience. They also need to be flexible, be able to set and maintain good boundaries.
When asked to compare their lives with TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Vanessa said that the parts that are true are the long hours, stressful situations, especially if when you work in the psychiatric emergency room. However, new federal guidelines regulate the number of hours residency interns can work (80 hours per week, rather than 100 hours a week) and that there be one day off a week and at least 10 hours of rest after taking an overnight call. They also have to be very firm in not accepting any gifts from patients and cannot form intimate relationships with their patients. To generate higher ratings, the movies have much more drama than ordinary life.
Compared to a psychologist, psychiatrists can prescribe medication as well as do therapy. They are able to treat their patients for such problems as hypertension, diabetes or infections. Psychologists have not completed medical school, but may do psychological testing and do therapy.
For students planning to enter the medical field, the Eaglins’ advice is to study hard and plan to work hard during the eight to ten years of medical school and residency. Be well-rounded and have outside interests so that you will not burn-out quickly. Talk with and shadow other physicians to obtain a better idea of what a physician’s life is like.
At Waiakea High School, Vanessa played basketball and Chadd football and was on the track team; both were involved in clubs. These activities helped to instill in them the value of team work and community service projects helped foster a responsibility and pride in our community. WHS prepared them well academically and helped them to be well-rounded individuals.