Portuguese young psychiatrists and trainees: The creation of new professional frames and social identity in a globalized mental healthcare market
Rolim Patriarca, Madalena
Social and Cultural Anthropology, PhD Institut of Social Sciences University of Lisbon Lisboa, Portugal
Since the 1950s, deinstitutionalisation has dominated mental health care reforms throughout Europe. In the last decades, National Health Services have announced the closing or downsizing of large psychiatric institutions and the implementation of new psychiatric and mental health care services in the general hospital as well as in the community. As a result of major government initiatives and new legal frameworks, mental health care has been undergoing significant social and professional changes. However, these extensive psychiatric reforms are far from being enthusiastically received by all psychiatrists and there are a large number of ongoing struggles to adapt to changing administrative set-ups and legal frameworks all over Europe.
What do such institutional transformations have meant to Portuguese young psychiatrists and trainees? Younger generations are learning to be psychiatrists in an entirely new clinical and working setting. In fact, as the psychiatric residency training program aims to prepare the graduates according to an international clinical practice, the Portuguese trainees face a manifold challenge. On the one hand, they invest in an international scientific socialization. Trying to get a job opportunity they seek to enter the international psychiatric scene both by doing scientific investigation courses abroad and participating in clinical and scientific meetings organized by international Young Psychiatrists and Trainees Associations.
On the other hand, feeling the hazards of a precarious medical career in the National Health Service, the young psychiatrists and trainees analyse the structural problems of Portuguese psychiatry training program by criticizing what they consider a deep line separating psychiatric legislation and the actual structural problems of hospital internship.
Focusing on a social anthropological perspective, this communication discusses how the foundation of the Portuguese Association of Psychiatric Trainees reveals a new professional conscience of psychiatrists as workers in a globalized world. However, at the same time this Association is used by young psychiatrists as an important social tool to manage their labour rights towards a future medical career, it also reorders their social and cultural identity as a professional group in relation to older psychiatrists.