National Academy of Medicine

I Felt Alone but I Wasn't: Depression is Rampant Among Doctors in Training

By Elisabeth Poorman and Sandeep P. Kishore
October 04, 2016 | Discussion Paper

TW: suicide

If you are suicidal and need emergency help, call 911 immediately or 1-800-273-8255 if in the United States. If you are in another country, find a 24/7 hotline at

The National Academy of Medicine Perspective, Breaking the Culture of Silence on Physician Suicide, brought together four unique voices from surgery, nursing, medical training, and the clergy to consider what led Kaitlyn, a young medical student, to take her own life on April 11, 2013. Drawn from personal experiences, the authors expose what they feel is a culture of silence under intense pressure that pushes physicians and trainees to experience depression and in many cases to tragically end their lives. But these are just four opinions based on four experiences. The authors hope to bring more voices into their conversation by requesting others who are comfortable with sharing to offer their own reactions to situations they were forced to navigate throughout their education and careers as health providers. Dr. Elisabeth Poorman, a primary care doctor and a former resident at Cambridge Health Alliance, answered the call and agreed to reprint her entry in WBUR’s CommonHealth blog, published in August 2016. This piece is Dr. Poorman’s personal reflection on the rampant depression experienced by doctors and doctors in training, and is found below.

As with any challenge, the first step is to identify the problem so solutions can be formed jointly by those most affected. The four authors took this first step; Dr. Poorman added her voice, and anyone else can join the movement by sending their written thoughts, opinions, or personal accounts relating to the culture of silence to These written comments will only be shared if the writer and those easily identified in the remarks provide explicit permission to do so.



Suggested Citation

Poorman, E. and S. P. Kishore. 2016. I Felt Alone but I Wasn’t: Depression is Rampant Among Doctors in Training. NAM Perspectives. Discussion Paper, National Academy of Medicine, Washington, DC. doi: 10.31478/201610a


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the authors’ organizations, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The paper is intended to help inform and stimulate discussion. It is not a report of the NAM or the National Academies. Copyright by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.