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Psychiatrist has served a variety of populations

November 10, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

LEITERSBURG - Like many young men in the mid-1960s when the Vietnam War was raging, William Prescott was drafted.

Instead of the usual military branches, Prescott - then a medical doctor - chose to enter the United States Public Health Services Commissioned Corps.

During his years in the corps, Prescott obtained his psychiatric training at Harvard University

Now 70, Prescott said he stayed on active duty with the corps from 1964 until 1987. "I was a two-star admiral when I retired," he said.

Prescott's career assignments through those years included stints in Puerto Rico, New Zealand and Panama as well as treating Cuban boat people and Haitians with their specific psychiatric needs.

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After leaving the corps, Prescott and his wife, Barbara, moved to Mount Airy when they came east from San Francisco. "We have nine children between us," Prescott said.

A native of Portland, Ore., Prescott and his family still spend time in Oregon when they can.

Now a full-time psychiatrist at Brook Lane Health Services Inc., Prescott has been on the hospital staff since 1987. He was medical director for 10 years.

"I work with adults and geriatric patients at Brook Lane who have psychiatric issues," Prescott said. Bipolar disorders, depression and chemically-induced problems take up much of his time.

His interest in bipolar disorders, which used to be called manic/depressive disorder, was piqued when a classmate from medical school committed suicide.

"He was always so outgoing, energetic - going to medical school, law school and also doing some acting," Prescott said. "I didn't see him when he was down."

Since July, Prescott has been president of the Maryland Psychiatric Society which represents the interests of up to 1,200 psychiatrists in the state.

It holds an annual meeting and meets twice a year with the suburban Maryland branch. During the annual legislative session, the society is very busy monitoring legislation affecting the profession.

"Enhanced care and adequate training issues are always high on our interests," Prescott said.

He said the organization keeps its members up to date on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and substance abuse disorders elsewhere.

"The field of psychiatry is always absolutely fascinating and even more interesting now," Prescott said. "We understand more about brain function and with brain scans, we can actually see people think."

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