My Journey with Medicine, Psychiatry & Mental Health

By: Lauren Edwards, MD’13

Dr. Edwards is an Assistant Professor in the UNMC Department of Psychiatry and Medical Director of the Anxiety Subspecialty Treatment (AnxST) Clinic. Below she shares how she ended up in the medical field, what she loves about psychiatry, and how she prioritizes her mental health.

On Medical School:

I know some people aim to be doctors or surgeons since childhood, and while that’s wonderful, my path was very different. It felt very much like a winding journey through the wilderness, and I just followed my gut when I got to a fork in the road.

I changed my major multiple times in college, studied abroad, had a lot of jobs, and then even did a fifth year of college. I have to acknowledge how fortunate I was to have this meandering course and parents who encouraged me to follow my passion. I ended up with degrees in philosophy and biochemistry – two fields that I fell in love with, but didn’t necessarily want careers in. I applied to medical school because I wanted to work with people (and not in an ivory tower or a lab). I feel incredibly lucky to have ended up where I am, but I also know that I couldn’t have gotten there without knowing and respecting myself, and of course a lot of hard work!

On Psychiatry:

I specialized in psychiatry, and it is such a joy and privilege to go to work every day and talk with people about what is most important to them and to lead them through times of struggle. One of the aspects of psychiatry that I love most is witnessing our shared humanity, both in the anguish and the resilience. I wish people talked more openly about their mental health challenges, because I think if people knew how much others suffer – and persevere through that suffering – they would feel less alone.

On Mental Health:

I work daily to maintain my own wellness, and some days it is harder than others. I find that having a foundation of adequate sleep, healthy eating (real food, mostly plants), and regular exercise goes a long way. Personally, I also need a bit of time to myself, even 10-15 minutes to decompress and reflect on whatever is on my mind. This spring, I found that family walks outside are also so refreshing!

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