Member spotlight: Dr. Tapan Parikh
Electronic Fall 2022 | Issue 52
Member spotlight: Dr. Tapan Parikh
In this spotlight, Dr. Sudhakar Shenoy, Chair of the Early Career Psychiatrists Committee, interviews Dr. Tapan Parikh who is a proud IPS member and the Medical Director for Acute Care Services at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
What made you decide to work in academia?
I have a passion for research and teaching. Within the first few minutes of meeting anyone in my professional life, I almost inadvertently mention that wanting to learn research and innovation was one of the main reasons why I decided to come to the United States from India. I have been able to gain a multitude of experiences through my journey as an immigrant and as an IMG [International Medical Graduate]. Amongst all those experiences, I found a lot of happiness in academic work, even during my training.
What does it mean to do research as an Early Career Psychiatrist (ECP)? Do you have any advice for those who will graduate soon that may be interested in research?
There is no easy road to research for an ECP. I am fortunate to have the right mentorship and support at my workplace. I also aspire to do more than I am doing now. There is a difference between scholarly projects and research and then there are a lot of flavors research comes in. I would suggest to those graduating to follow their passion and try their best to find a place that would nurture their passion. Scholarly projects are a good place to start! Even though they can take time, these are much less complicated than IRB-approved research studies. There are several national conferences and annual meetings where a lot of research ideas can be presented, and we inevitably learn when we present and come back with more questions.
It is interesting to note that there is a difference between research and scholarly projects. What are some of your most recent scholarly projects?
I am thrilled to share with the IPS community that my mentor and colleague Dr. Mina Dulcan and I are co-authoring the third edition of Study Guide to Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: A Companion to Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, a book that is in-Press for early 2023 release by the American Psychiatric Association Publishing.
On a different note, and in line with ideas of scholarly work that counts as research, we conducted an analysis of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) which contains statistics collected by the CDC to monitor health behaviors that contribute to the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among youth and adults. With a sample size of 10,000+ participants, we published results on cognitive dysfunction among teenagers and association with digital use. Using the same database, we published results on mental health disparities amongst sexual-minority adolescents. This was an analysis of 40,000+ adolescents.
We also hear that you are active with multiple professional societies. Are there any committees you serve on?
As you know, I am a member of the IPS ECP committee. I am also very excited to share that I am a committee member of the Psychopharmacology Committee of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). I also serve as Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee of Indian American Medical Association of Illinois (IAMA-IL) which is an organization of physicians of Indian origin. We also give the ‘Golden Stethoscope Award’ each year to encourage scholarly interests of medical students in the state of Illinois. Furthermore, internally at my workplace, I am part of the Education and Wellness Committees.
What can ECPs or a soon-to-graduate-resident/fellow do to pursue interest in research?
Focusing on the acquisition of knowledge is the key. I suggest having a broad interest in research design, biostatistics, and evidence generation that can be applied to any topic.
I have an example that can help. During my training, I got to participate in a “residents as teachers'' series. During that, I created and presented a 9-session didactic series on “Evidence-Based Psychiatry – Critical Appraisal of Literature – Research Methodology” to all general psychiatry residents at my training program and received great feedback that it helped everyone to enhance their knowledge.
Additional degrees such as Ph.D. or MPH also provide skill sets in a very in-depth manner, but constraints of time and finances may notably come into play. However, one can always attend and learn outside of such structured degree programs. Once you have a skill set of biostatistics, you don't need a biostatistician to run basic data analysis that can be useful for a scholarly project and this skill set can be learned. There are also many courses online that may be helpful.
What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you manage your life goals while being busy with family and kids?
I am truly fortunate to have tremendous support from my wife, who attends to the needs of our two children, but I try to have a fair share of work-life balance! As you know, when we talk on the phone/zoom, you often hear my kids in the background. I have to prioritize and am unfortunately not able to attend every IPS meeting. I am also an early bird, which helps. I go to sleep early when the kids sleep and wake up early as well. I strive to complete many tasks before the clinical work starts, and now this is what I am very much used to. I do have a commute, but I try to get phone calls done while driving. It is a daily effort to try and to maintain that “work-life balance.”