Welcome to Flowly Features, where wehighlight a hero on their health journey so that we can get inspired, pick up a tip or two, and remember that we are not alone 💙
Hi Dr. Amira! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hello Flowly Community! My name is Dr. Amira Collison. I am a 27-year old, proud woman of color in the field of Medicine. I was born and raised in Maryland and stayed there for the majority of my life - I graduated college at the University of Maryland and medical school at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. I briefly got away in between college and medical school and lived in Spain for a year to master fluency in my favorite language. I currently live in sunny California and work as a Resident Physician. My specialty is Psychiatry, meaning I treat mental and behavioral health conditions like depression, ADHD, anxiety, and so on. This summer, I am applying into Child and Adolescent Fellowship and am looking forward to learning more about caring for people across the entire life course. For fun, I enjoy playing sports (I’m currently on an intramural basketball team with other doctors), going on hikes, being in nature, and making fun and educational Tok Tok! Thanks for getting to know me :)
Why did you choose to go into Psychiatry?
I love the field of Psychiatry for several reasons. For one, it is a person-centered specialty. While other specialties in medicine focus on labs and numbers, a Psychiatrist's one-on-one interview with the patient is our greatest diagnostic and therapeutic tool. We learn about our patients' childhood, relationships, trauma, and take into account all the different unique aspects of what make them who they are when assessing and formulating our treatment plans. I am also very passionate about working with marginalized groups, and individuals living with mental illness are often some of the most stigmatized and discriminated groups in this country. I want to help break down mental health stigma with truth and empowerment. Lastly, I find the mind and mental health incredibly interesting!
What would you tell the past version of yourself when you first began working in healthcare?
Healthcare is a life-long journey, so there is no race or rush to finish!
What has your own personal health journey been like?
In October of 2022, I fell incredibly ill and was hospitalized for a week with sepsis (which is an extreme bodily response to an infection). While hospitalized, my doctors discovered that I had a large 6cm cavitary mass in the right upper lobe of my lung. Despite months of tests, images, and innumerable doctor visits, no one to this day has been able to tell me what this mass is, nor what caused it. Nevertheless, my team of doctors were certain of 1 thing, that the mass needed to be removed because of the risk of complications.
A few months later, I underwent thoracic surgery where the entirety of my right upper lobe was surgically removed. The recovery process has been difficult; essentially I am learning to breathe and walk again while missing almost 1/3rd of one of my lungs.
And unfortunately, my health journey does not stop here. We are still not sure what caused this mass to occur or if there is an underlying infectious or autoimmune disease that is continuing in my body. But despite the uncertainty of my health condition, I am grateful to have gained the perspective of a patient as I hope it makes me a more compassionate and understanding physician when caring for other individuals with chronic illnesses.
As a doctor, how do you balance taking care of yourself with the work you do?
Luckily, all of my doctors work in the same hospital as me. This makes leaving my office to go to doctor appointments relatively convenient. However, it is incredibly stressful hearing bad news in a doctor's appointment, only to minutes later return to the high stress of a busy inpatient psychiatric unit to care for severely ill patients with a smile. I am still learning how to balance my health journey with my doctor responsibilities, but thankfully I am currently on a medical leave while recovering from thoracic surgery.
Here at Flowly, we are all about cultivating a flow state. What does a state of flow feel like to you?
A state of flow for me means prioritizing doing things every day that bring me peace.
When do you feel the most "in flow" in your life?
I feel most "in flow" in my life when I feel like I have the autonomy, time and support to do things that make me feel fulfilled.
What resources are in your “health toolkit”?
- The Calm App for guided meditation exercises to help me de-stress, and I recommend it to many of my patients.
- I also use CBT and DBT personal workbooks that not only help me be a better therapist for my patients, but also help me challenge negative thought patterns and practice self-soothing daily (These books can be found on amazon or local bookstores).
- I also like to use GoodRx to find medication discounts for my patients so getting the care they need can be affordable!