Mclean Hospital

Diverse Experiences Converge Into a Psychiatry Career

March 5, 2020

Argyro Caminis, MD, MPH, an assistant psychiatrist for McLean’s Short Term Unit and an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has always thought deeply about the interconnectedness and interdependence of people.

Caminis grew up in the U.S. in an interfaith and bicultural family, her paternal grandparents being of Greek-Orthodox and Greek heritage and her maternal grandparents being of Eastern European and Jewish descent. This background set the foundation for her thinking about ways to learn from, blend, and assimilate different beliefs and cultural traditions.

When Caminis was 11, she moved with her family to Japan for four years. She attended an international school and went to all-Japanese summer camps where she was the only foreigner. She loved living abroad and continued to seek out ways to immerse herself in cross-cultural experiences.

Caminis spent a summer as an exchange student with a Japanese family, majored in East Asian Studies in college at Yale, moved to China for a year to study Mandarin Chinese, and then moved back to the U.S., where she helped to manage student exchange programs with the Yale-China Association.

Ever intrigued by people, she had thought of becoming a physician since her teens. Once in medical school, her fascination with cross-cultural issues, anthropology, public health, and neuroscience converged into her interest in psychiatry. “I realized I felt most like a doctor when I was attending to issues that had more to do with emotional health,” Caminis said.

Growing up, she was close to several people who experienced significant mental health challenges and recalls how her own anxiety could derail activities she enjoyed, such as public speaking or performing in a piano recital. “I felt if you don’t have your basic well-being, then life can be really awful when it doesn’t need to be,” she said.

Argyro Caminis, MD, MPH
Argyro Caminis, MD, MPH

Caminis was also inspired by many mentors, both in medical school and residency, whose skills in relating to a diverse range of people facilitated connections for patients within themselves and with others in their lives. She recalls how a psychiatry resident interviewed a man who, at the time, Caminis struggled to comprehend. “She just had a way of being so understanding of him and making sense of what he was trying to communicate,” Caminis said. She admired role models like this who were able to make connections with people in a very deep way and attributes significant influence on her decision to pursue further training in psychiatry and then later in psychodynamic psychotherapy through the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute.

After medical school, Caminis was a resident in the MGH/McLean Adult Psychiatry Residency Training Program, then continued as a psychiatrist at McLean, where she is an inpatient psychiatrist, has a private practice, and teaches clinical psychiatry to medical students and psychiatry residents. “I enjoy the diversity of people that I get to see and trying to create a connection with each patient in the hopes to engender their hope, empowerment, and sense of agency,” Caminis said.

Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to live theater, taking improv theater classes, cooking, as well as spending time outdoors hiking, biking, and skiing. She continues to look for ways to work across disciplines and to explore how acting, the arts in general, and athletics can inform and improve clinical care and general well-being.