Fourth-year medical student earns scholarship to attend major conference

In 2018, UNMC medical student Jessica Thai presented a poster with UNMC psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Gih at the International Conference on Eating Disorders. Thai has attended several conferences during medical school and will attend the IPS: Mental Health Services Conference in October after receiving a travel scholarship from the APA.

UNMC fourth-year medical student Jessica Thai has made a point to attend as many national conferences as possible.

She has presented research and will appear on panels and help lead discussions at upcoming conferences this year. Even at past conferences, attended solely as an attendee, she found that the mentorship and networking opportunities were well worth the time and effort spent applying for competitive travel scholarships.

“I’ve been able to meet so many people and meet some great mentors,” she said. “These mentors can help you in several ways, including advice on different residency programs and career paths or collaborating on research or a presentation.”

Thanks to a travel scholarship from the American Psychiatry Association, Thai will be attending the IPS: Mental Health Services Conference from Oct. 3-6 in New York City. Thai said she applied for the travel scholarship because hotel costs can exceed $300 a night. She also plans to attend another conference (Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) in downtown Chicago a week later and the American Psychiatry Association’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia in late April, where she will help run the corresponding PsychSIGN national psychiatry student interest group meeting as a PsychSIGN board member.

“I was thrilled to receive the scholarship because there’s no way I could attend IPS without it,” Thai said.

The AACAP meeting in Chicago is also important for Thai as she considers a future as a child and adolescent psychiatrist. This will be her third time attending AACAP since medical school.

“Dr. (Daniel) Gih and Dr. (Howard) Liu, both child psychiatrists, have been huge mentors to me and are two big reasons I’m going into psychiatry,” Thai said. “From the first time I met them at the psychiatry mentoring night at Joslyn Castle as an M1, I’ve been interested in psychiatry.”

Along with child and adolescent psychiatry, Thai also has interests in eating disorders and has presented research performed under the guidance of Dr. Gih at AACAP and the International Conference of Eating Disorders. Although, she remains open to any field in psychiatry.

“I like that in psychiatry you get to learn so much about a patient. There’s time to learn their story,” she said. “In other fields, you don’t learn as much or spend as much time with your patients. That’s why psychiatry stands out for me.”

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