Dr Petrus J. Steyn – reflecting on being a registrar in Psychiatry

“I am currently a final year registrar, having joined the department in 2018. I was drawn to psychiatry initially by the necessity in this field to get to know your patients. Psychiatric practice is an art in which one creates space for people to share deep secrets and find healing. But I was also fascinated by the science of the field and the explosion in our understanding of the brain and its connections to the mind and the body. I am excited to be in this field currently as the promise of a better understanding of what causes and maintains the disorders that we treat and an emphasis on deeper connections with our patients may hopefully open the door towards massive and rapid improvements for people suffering from mental illness.


During my time in the department, I was given many great opportunities. These included learning from experienced and highly regarding clinicians and researchers, conducting research and publishing my work, engaging with many extraordinary patients, attending several conferences (and presenting at some of them), and serving as the Chief Registrar. All of these helped to form my approach to my field and my patients. I believe that this department produces excellent and fully-rounded psychiatrists, as I can attest from the pleasure of working closely with wonderful registrar colleagues.


Being a registrar is a demanding task and I couldn’t have done it without the love, patience, and support from my wife, Nina. I am also blessed with two beautiful daughters, Jackie and Petra Calldi, who inspire me with their verve for life. When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time with all of them as well as reading and writing.”


Dr. Steyn obtained an MBChB degree from Stellenbosch University in 2012 and also holds a diploma in Mental Health from the College of Psychiatrists of South Africa. In 2021, Dr. Steyn received the Department of Psychiatry Award for Best Registrar (recognizes an outstanding registrar, specifically a well-rounded registrar with excellent clinical skills, personal traits of compassion and devotion to patients, and significant academic and research potential) and the Department of Psychiatry MMed Part II Award (a final year registrar who achieves the highest marks in the final exams (minimum mark of 70% overall)). He has also published 2 papers:

  1. Steyn PJ, Koen L, Jarvis L. Characteristics of inpatients in dialectical behaviour therapy modified for a resource-limited setting. S Afr J Psychiat. 2022;28, a1701.
  2. Steyn PJ, Van den Heuvel LL. Cut it out or wait it out? Case series of middle fossa arachnoid cysts presenting with psychiatric symptoms and a discussion of the ethics of neurosurgical management. Gen Psychiatr. 2021;34(6):e100523. doi: 10.1136/gpsych-2021-100523.


Prof S. Seedat (EHOD, Psychiatry) and Dr. P. Steyn – 2021 Department of Psychiatry Awards.