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Mentorship leads to OSH

Friday, September 29, 2023

​In the final year of her residency, Dr. Yassmin Atefi was seeking a job that would enable her to grow her skills and work in a team environment.

“It was during the pandemic, and I was doing new patient outpatient appointments that were only 30 minutes to an hour. I was feeling isolated," Atefi said. “I realized it wasn't something I wanted to do forever. I need to be around like-minded people and have resources to help people the way I want to help them."

At the time, she shared her frustrations with her mentor, Oregon State Hospital (OSH) psychiatrist Dr. Vanessa McDonald. The two grew to know each other at a Corvallis hospital where McDonald worked weekends and Atefi completed her psychiatry residency. McDonald also supervises residents during their rotations at OSH and enjoys helping psychiatrists early in their career identify their next steps.

Dr. Atefi and Dr. McDonald

“She told me, 'I work at this place where you'd get to work with great psychiatrists with support and you wouldn't be alone,'" Atefi recalled. “I thought if I get to work with a lot of Dr. McDonalds, that would be amazing." 

Atefi joined the OSH psychiatry department in September 2022 and appreciates the multi-disciplinary team she works with and learns from daily. As part of her work, she consults with other psychiatrists, psychologists, behavioral health therapists, social workers and other clinical providers.

“I really enjoy teamwork and working in a group – which is another reason why I like working at OSH. There's a whole team approach here," Atefi said.

Like Atefi, McDonald chose OSH after one of her own mentors at OHSU nudged her to consider it.

“I feel like this is the psychiatric ICU in the state and I could come here and learn more," McDonald said about the choice she made in 2012 to work at OSH.

Atefi has been an asset to the team, McDonald said.

“I can count on two hands the residents who stand out and she's one of them," McDonald said. “She's very bright and in her first year, I could tell she had tons of potential because she was very thorough. I just thought, 'I'm gonna keep my eye on her.' Over time, I kept mentioning the hospital as a great place to work and I'm so glad she's here." 

McDonald said Atefi takes teamwork to heart and in her office space has a daily reminder written on her whiteboard: “Do not worry alone. Call. Consult. Discuss. Leave on time!" And next to the final reminder, “Keep laughing," is a smiley face.

“I didn't write that," Atefi said. “A doctor who's been here a long time came by and told me, 'This is what I know.'" 

And, Atefi said she also knows she's found a place where she can develop her psychiatric skills and continue learning so she can better help others.

“I learn from the team and from their different perspectives. I already knew I'd be learning every day as a physician, but I didn't know I'd learn as much every day because of the team," she said. “I enjoy coming to work because I know I have a whole team that I can find support through."



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