Spotlight of the week. Dr Domenick Sportelli, M.D Board-Certified Psychiatrist.

By Editor - March 29, 2017

Who is Dr. Sportelli?
I am a psychiatrist, board certified in both adult and child adolescent psychiatry. 

In few sentences describe your journey as a doctor so far.

I was a non traditional medical school applicant initiating my medical school journey at the age of 30, I had multiple prior careers including working as Nationally certified fitness trainer, actor, fashion, Commercial and fitness model working for large publications such as Men's Health Magazine all while working on a Graduate degree. I loved medical school! Always loved human behavior but initially completed an intern year in Family Medicine. I soon realized that my clinical interest, patient population interest, research interests as well as personal philosophies were perfectly matched for a career in Psychiatry.

What's a career in psychiatry like?
Psychiatry is one of the most incredibly diverse fields of medicine (one of the reasons that I love it!) you can do; inpatient, outpatient, private practice, legal forensic work, addiction, kids, ER, concierge practice etc. and one of my favorite aspects, there's a ton of media opportunities! 

How long does it take to become a consultant psychiatrist?
Well, of course medical school, plus 4 year General Psychiatry Residency. Some pursue a fellowship in Consult Psychiatry (official term "psychosomatic medicine"), but currently not necessary due to the high demand. My path was Medical school, 4 year General Psychiatry Residency then 2 Year Child Psychiatry fellowship. 

What's a typical day like at work?
I do ECT procedures in the am, in the same day surgery suite, then off to the medical floors for new consults and follow ups (delirium, dementia, psychosis, detox, overdoses, suicide attempts, psychiatric medication mgmt. Psychiatric ER for acute psychosis, mania, commitments etc). Then off to the private practice which is a concierge type practice seeing children and adults. Along with this I will work media appearances into my schedule, either flying out to Los Angeles for a day to shoot the Doctors CBS, go to local news or radio studios, or Skype into a show. 

Whats the most common misconception about your specialty?
I think psychiatry is incredibly misunderstood. It's really not what most people think. It's becoming more "Neurologically based", very psychopharmacology oriented, some Cognitive Behavioral interventions for psychotherapy, and of course no one seems to know the difference between a "psychologist and psychiatrist" ; ). 

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
The patient population can be incredibly challenging; Suicidal, homidical, aggressive, agitated etc. by nature they can be very emotionally unstable, with very complex histories and treatment plans. Treatment is often resistant to significant efforts, you have to be happy with long term goals, and small improvements over time. 

How do you stay motivated?
I sincerely love what I do. Every day and every patient is completely different. I do feel that I'm good at what I do, and I do feel that I make a difference. I can't imagine practicing any other field of medicine. I find that psychiatry is an "art", in all other fields, I felt like a "mechanic" following an algorithm.

How do you create a work:life balance?
I make time for myself to do very deep and fulfilling things (i.e. Hiking, surfing) through psychiatry I've learned so much about myself that I can achieve deep satisfying and meaningful time when I have it. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
The best part is "I don't know"! But I wouldn't have it any other way. There is such incredible opportunity in this field, not sure where it's gonna take me, but I'm on board and happy! 

What advise do you have for young doctors?
Think about your personality, what patients do you like to work with? What settings do you thrive in? Do you like procedures or more cerebral type practice? Truly follow your interests not finances. The economics of medicine change drastically so be sure your doing what you truly love and enjoy every day. Remind your self why you chose such a challenging but rewarding career. My years of psychodynamic and psychotherapeutic studying have led me to the very real conclusion that a fulfilled life is about helping others, keep that focus and you'll be just fine.
It's been an incredibly long road and some days are painfully challenging, however I wouldn't change a thing!


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  1. Nice one sir. I will like to be a psychiatrist someday.