The Most Important Thing on Your Resume: The Executive Summary

 

By Rudy Bellani, PhD and Zach Marks

Co-founders of Oystir

This is the second in a series of posts by former recruiters and co-founders of Oystir, a new free service helping STEM PhDs find non-academic jobs.

 

In our last post, we laid out the basics of how to write a winning resume. Today, we discuss what we have found to be the most impactful part of a resume, and the one most PhDs leave off: the executive summary.

 

An executive summary is a short statement at the top of your resume that quickly summarizes what makes you the right candidate for the job. We recommend 3-5 punchy sentences (more on what they should say later) that emphasize your most relevant strengths and experiences and make the best case for why you are uniquely qualified for the job. In this post, we’ll cover why you need an executive summary and how to get started writing one.

 

Why do you need an executive summary?

 Why Your Resume Needs an Executive Summary? Tweet this image!
Why Your Resume Needs an Executive Summary? Tweet this image!

1) Quickly articulates your value – “the elevator pitch”

Imagine you were in an elevator for 30 seconds with the hiring manager. What would you say to convince them to hire you? That is your “elevator pitch.” This is the purpose of your executive summary. We recruiters love it. As a hiring manager, I can read 3-5 sentences and know if you’re qualified. You save me time and effort. The great benefit for candidates is that you control your story and get to make the case why you’re a great candidate, instead of relying on my interpretation of your history of experiences.

The first thing recruiters see is what is up-front and center. This is also the section they will spend the most time on. So it is crucial you put the most important information they need to see up front in an executive summary.

From the beginning, list the most important pieces of information that demonstrate how you are uniquely qualified for the job. This will hook the hiring manager and make them want to read more about you.

Consider the two example resumes below (name and institutions have been changed). They are both the same person – a postdoc applying for a scientist job that requires experience with CRISPR/Cas9 technology, leadership and management. In the version with an executive summary, the candidate quickly summarizes his background as an accomplished molecular biologist with major publications, then highlights his experience CRISPR/Cas9, and emphasizes evidence of his ability to manage (mentoring students) and lead (co-founding a program). In the version without an executive summary, the recruiter doesn’t get any of that color. Worse still, by leading with education instead of experience, the recruiter has to get past the first third of the page to see if the person has any gene editing experience or has demonstrated leadership or management. You took 2 of the 7 seconds I was going to spend on your resume and wasted it with low-value information.

PhD Resume without Executive Summary
PhD Resume without Executive Summary. Click on the image to enlarge.
PhD Resume with Executive Summary
PhD Resume with Executive Summary. Click on the image to enlarge.

 

2) Makes you stand out from the crowd: Emphasizes strengths and highlights transferable skills

When you apply for a job, your resume will likely be one of a long stack under review. It is essential that you stand out from others and don’t blend into the crowd. By leading with your education or your postdoc, you make it difficult for the recruiter to identify how you are different than anyone else – there are a lot of PhDs. Make that job easier for them by making your relevant skills and experiences pop out at them up front in an executive summary. Recruiters will thank you for not making them go digging through your resume to figure out what makes you qualified and different from other PhDs.

This is especially important if you are applying to an industry job from academia. Many jobs list industry experience but recruiters ultimately consider applicants without it. Leading with an executive summary gives you have time to persuade a recruiter you’re worth considering, rather than emphasizing the fact you are fresh out of academia. Executive summaries are also helpful if you are applying for a role that doesn’t traditionally get filled by PhDs; you get a few lines to emphasize your transferable skills and convince the hiring manager why you should be the exception.

In addition to highlighting your skills, an executive summary conveys the important message to recruiters that you are a strong communicator. Most industry jobs will require you to synthesize complex concepts into a few key takeaways and communicate them clearly and concisely. By crystallizing your experiences into several punchy bullet points, you will demonstrate you have the communication skills to craft a narrative. If you can sell yourself, you can sell a company’s product.

3) Targets a specific job and aligns you with employer needs

Traditionally, people kicked off their resumes with an “objective statement,” in which they wrote what they were looking for. You may have seen objective statements like this before:

“Seeking to obtain a research scientist position at a leading biopharmaceutical company.”

“OBJECTIVE: To apply expertise in molecular biology and bioinformatics in a fast-paced challenging environment.”

Objective statements are essentially useless – you’re telling me you want to apply for the job you have applied for. I know that. Ditch the objective statement for an executive summary.

Objective Statement vs. Executive Summary
Upgrade your resume with an executive summary Tweet this image!

The major problem with objective statements is they tell hiring managers what they already know. If you’re applying for a research scientist job, the employer knows your objective. That’s why you sent them your resume. Don’t waste precious space in your resume telling them what they know.

Additionally, objective statements are written with your goals in mind, not the hiring manager’s. Hiring managers are looking for what you will bring to the job, not what you want to get out of it. You wouldn’t try to sell your house by saying you need the money; you’d take the buyer’s perspective and show off what they’d get by purchasing the house. On your resume, take the employer’s perspective, understand their needs and demonstrate how you would fulfill them.

So how do you get started writing your executive summary?

1) Identify the employer’s needs and how you fulfill them

Just as your resume should be tailored to the job for which you are applying, so should your executive summary. In fact, it is even more crucial to tailor your summary since that is the one part the recruiter is guaranteed to read.

Read the job description to determine what is most important: If it’s a research scientist role, what lab techniques are they looking for? If it’s a data analyst role, what scripting languages are they looking for? If it’s a consulting role, are they looking for entrepreneurial experiences? Is it important to emphasize your experience managing others or should you emphasize your written communications skills?

Once you’ve identified what skills the job needs, go through your resume to identify which of those skills you have. List the most relevant experiences that pertain to each skill set. Of the scientific research techniques listed in the job description, which have you mastered? If the position requires you to lead a team, when have you managed others? If the job requires you to be part of a new unit, have you started an organization to prove you’re a leader who can shape it? If it requires communication skills, have you written articles for popular consumption or given presentations to wide audiences?

2) Understand it’s YOUR story

In addition to tailoring your summary to jobs you apply for, make sure your summary is tailored to YOU. We realize that sounds a bit obvious, but often we read resumes whose opening sentence is something like:

“Highly motivated scientist with strong problem-solving skills, tireless work ethic and detail-oriented mindset.”

That could describe just about any PhD applying to any job. Throughout your executive summary and resume, try to emphasize skills, experiences and attributes unique to you. When you write a bullet point, ask yourself, “Could just about anyone say this?” If the answer is yes, rewrite.

3) Write the bullet points

Now that you’ve done some initial thinking about what skills and experiences you have that are relevant to the job and make you stand out, it’s time to put them on paper.

Your executive summary should appear right below your contact information and be about 4-8 lines. We prefer bullet points to paragraph form: a big block of text is intimidating to read and difficult to skim, which frustrates hiring managers. This is more important for bullet points under your experience section, which we will cover more in another post, but the rule applies to the executive summary as well.

Here’s a rough outline for your executive summary:

Bullet 1 – The Pitch
Summarize yourself in a sentence (e.g., “Creative biochemist with demonstrated leadership skills and 7 years experience in immunology and cancer biology research”)

Bullets 2-3 – The Skills
Emphasize the most relevant skills you have tailored to the job description (e.g., “Deep expertise in mathematical modeling in monte carlo simulations, performing numerical analysis on large data sets and data visualization”)

Bullets 4-5 – The Fit
Highlight your soft skills and anything else impressive that defines you (e.g., “Former professional poker player well-prepared for an environment of rapid decision-making and financial risk”)

To get started on your executive summary, here are some questions to ask yourself to help flesh out each bullet point:

ow To Write An Executive Summary
How to write an Executive Summary Tweet this image!

For inspiration, here are a few executive summaries of real PhDs we have helped get jobs (names changed of course). Notice how the emphasis changes depending on the job they apply for!

Research Scientist

Research Scientist PhD Executive Summary
Credit: Oystir

Data Scientist

Data Scientist PhD Executive Summary
Credit: Oystir

Consultant

Consultant PhD Executive Summary
Credit: Oystir

Biostatistician

Real PhDs resume samples
Credit: Oystir

This was one of a series of posts on winning resume strategies for PhDs. Stay tuned to Scizzle for future pieces including making your skills and achievements stand out from the crowd and samples of “before” and “after” resume success stories.

Rudy Bellani and Zach Marks are co-founders of Oystir, a new free service helping PhDs find non-academic jobs. You can reach them at info@oystir.com. To begin exploring what jobs match your skills, sign up at www.oystir.com.

9 Winning Resume Strategies for PhDs

 

By Rudy Bellani, PhD and Zach Marks

This is the first in a series of posts by Rudy Bellani and Zach Marks, former recruiters and co-founders of Oystir, a new free service helping STEM PhDs find non-academic jobs.

 

You pour your heart and soul into years of research all for this one document. It is how your time in grad school will be judged and it will play a significant role in determining your future. PhD candidates dread it more than anything. Not the thesis. The resume.

You have to summarize yourself, your accomplishments, your transferable skills, and what makes you stand out into one page. We’ve been in your shoes. We know it’s hard. But it’s important. Are you going to let years of hard work in the lab, applying to fellowships, and succeeding in extracurriculars go to waste by not investing time into your resume?

A senior HR executive at a top consulting firm told us, “PhDs are the hardest group of individuals to evaluate from their resumes. They’re terribly written.” Take this as encouraging news. It means that if you take the time to write a stellar resume you will stand out from the pack.

We’re former recruiters and have read thousands of resumes. As co-founders of Oystir, we are currently helping hundreds of PhDs get non-academic jobs. We know what works and what doesn’t. In a series of exclusive posts for Scizzle, we will share our job market-tested, hiring manager-approved resume strategies for PhDs.

 

1) Resumes matter

[box style=”rounded”]Unless you have a major connection to help you get an interview, you’re going to need an awesome resume.[/box]

Let’s kick things off by making one point clear: your resume is the key to getting an interview. A biotech hiring manager told us, “We’ve probably interviewed and ultimately hired less qualified candidates at times simply because they wrote a better resume.”

The average recruiter reads about 200 resumes a week. Of those, 50 will get a second review and 15 will get a phone screen. Your goal is to write the resume that makes you one of those 15.

 

2) Resumes aren’t CVs

[box style=”rounded”]1 page for every 10 years of work experience. If you’re a 5th year postdoc, that means 1 page.[/box]

A resume is not a curriculum vitae (CV). The biggest difference is length: a resume is a 1-2 page summary of your experience, education and most relevant skills; a CV lists everything, including publications, presentations, honors, awards and affiliations. You might put some of that in a resume, but only the information that is directly relevant to the job you are applying for.

A CV is used for applying to academic jobs. A resume is what you need to transition out of academia and apply for industry jobs.

 

3) Mind the ATS: use relevant keywords

[box style=”rounded”]Use keywords from the job description and keep formatting simple to get past Applicant Tracking Software.[/box]

The first screen of your resume will most likely be done by a computer. Most companies use Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) to do the first review of resumes. ATS systems typically eliminate 75% of resumes before passing them on to a hiring manager. So before you can impress a human with your resume; you have to impress a machine.

ATS systems parse resumes looking for keywords relevant to the job, so be sure to include keywords from the job description in your resume. If the job requires experience with SPSS or R, don’t just write “statistics” – list those specific skills. If the job requires project management experience, explicitly list “project management” – don’t let that skill get lost in a long sentence about working with a team in a lab for your thesis research.

Also keep structure and formatting in mind to get past ATS systems. The resume is not the place to get creative with design. Don’t include any images or logos. That is the best way to “break” the ATS’ parsing mechanism and disqualify yourself before your resume even gets reviewed.

Have clearly separate headings for each section and be conservative with formatting. Use standard fonts (e.g., Times, Arial, Helvetica). Try not to go smaller than 12 pt and stick with black ink. This is important beyond the ATS: you don’t want to get passed because you made the hiring manager squint to read your accomplishments or confused him with arbitrarily blue text.

 

4) Make one for every role

[box style=”rounded”]Tailor a resume for each type of role you’re applying to.[/box]

Every job requires a resume specifically tailored for it. Emphasize the skills, attributes and keywords required for a particular role – for guidance, read the exact keywords listed in the job description and make sure to include them up front in your resume. For example:

  • If you’re applying to a consulting position that will require you to lead others, play up your project management skills (e.g., managing an undergrad) and entrepreneurial experiences (e.g., starting a student organization).
  • If you’re applying to a medical science liaison job that will require you to interact with clients, play up your communications skills and list any science outreach you’ve done.
  • If you’re applying to a research scientist or data analyst job, make sure you list the specific research techniques or statistical skills included in the job description.

 

5) Win with structure

[box style=”rounded”] Give your resume structure with clearly demarcated sections.[/box]

A study tracking where recruiters looked at resumes show they spent nearly 80% of their time on six points: name; current and previous position’s title, company, start and end dates; and education. After that, they’re skimming for relevant keywords to the job.

Put that information where hiring managers are expecting to see it.

List your name and contact information up top followed by an executive summary (more on how to write an executive summary in a future post), your experience, then your education. Separate each section with clear headings. Bold each position on your resume so the hiring manager can easily skim and see all the roles you have held.

Recruiters spend more time on highly structured resumes; without that structure, the person reviewing your resume will throw his hands up and move to the next one. Look at this heat map tracking recruiters’ gaze as they reviewed two resumes: one structured, one not. There is simply more “heat” on the structured one: the recruiter reads the summary then scans each of the individual’s titles and spends time reading bullet points from each experience. In the unstructured resume, the recruiter doesn’t even make it all the way through.

 

heatmap for resume scanning
Credit: The Ladder.


 

6) Prioritize information

[box style=”rounded”]The information in your resume should be ordered by relevance to the job.[/box]

After you write each line of your resume, consider what would happen if the hiring manager stopped reading then. Would they walk away with the most important points?

That is a very real hypothetical. Recruiters spend an average of 5-7 seconds on your resume. Every piece of information on your resume should be important. Prioritize it ruthlessly to make sure the most important information is at top. Apply this principle to your whole resume and to each section. Put the most important information up top in an executive summary. Within each section, list your bullet points in order of importance.

Make sure you are prioritizing what the hiring manager wants to see, not what you want to tell. The most important pieces of information to a recruiter are the skills and attributes needed for the job, which don’t always line up with your proudest achievements.

 

7) Less is more

[box style=”rounded”]Be brief. Pack it in.[/box]

As PhDs, we are taught the more data the better, so we are often tempted to include as much information as possible: all our publications, all our posters, all the projects we have contributed to in lab. On your resume, less is more. For each experience, ask yourself: “Is this relevant to the job?” If it’s not, cut it. Treat every centimeter on your resume as precious real estate and be sure to leave some white space.

If you are not applying for a research scientist job, your exact publications are not very important. If you have a first-author publication in a high-impact journal, it’s fine to list it in a section showing selected publications, but don’t list all of them. Better to have a punchy bullet point that says, “Co-authored 7 publications, including in Nature, PLoS Biology, and Journal of Neuroscience.”

Tangibly this means you might have to cut 70% of your most prized accomplishments so you can really zone in on the 30% that are relevant to the job. We know this is hard. Trust us, it’s for your own good!

 

8) Avoid the most common killer

[box style=”rounded”] Have others proofread your resume.[/box]

We’ve reviewed thousands of resumes and most have typos. Our most recent favorite: “Professonal experiences.”

Don’t do this. Have friends read your resume – often it takes someone else to find hidden typos. This is particularly important if English is not your first language.

A life sciences recruiter told us: “A flawless, well-written resume tells me something about a candidate. They can communicate. They’re attentive to detail. They put in the extra bit of effort on even tedious tasks because that’s the kind of person they are.”

 

9) If you only remember one point: Be results-oriented

[box style=”rounded”]Write bullet points that describe and quantify what you did, beginning with an action verb.[/box]

Write punchy bullet points that describe your experiences in concise, results-oriented language. Make each bullet a single sentence and lead with an action verb (e.g., developed, launched, managed) and include a result. Hiring managers want to know what you have achieved, not your job duties. Avoid bullets like “responsibilities included” or a list of roles. Instead, include tangible achievements. To make them tangible, quantify them. For example, if you helped secure funding for your lab, list how much; if you managed lab technicians, say how many. Here are some examples to illustrate the point:

A wasted bullet: Nathanson, C., Jensen, R., & Bender, Y. (2002). Nature.

A boring bullet: I was part of a team that published a paper in Nature, which was cited by over 50 other researchers.

A great bullet: Led the development of a multi-national collaboration, coordinating 3 research groups across 2 time zones, resulting in a Nature publication cited by 50 researchers, all within 6 months after work began.

 

This was the first in a series of posts on winning resume strategies for PhDs. Stay tuned to Scizzle for future pieces including writing an executive summary, making your skills and achievements stand out from the crowd and samples of “before” and “after” resume success stories.

 

Rudy Bellani and Zach Marks are co-founders of Oystir, a new free service helping PhDs find non-academic jobs. You can reach them at info@oystir.com. To begin exploring what jobs match your skills, sign up at www.oystir.com.

Lethal Weapon: How Many Lethal Mutations Do We Carry?

 

By John McLaughlin

Many human genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia, are caused by recessive mutations with a predictable pattern of inheritance. Tracking hereditary disorders such as these is an important part of genetic counseling, for example when planning a family. In fact, there exists an online database dedicated to medical genetics, Mendelian Inheritance in Man, which contains information on most human genetic disorders and their associated phenotypes.

 

The authors of a new paper in Genetics set out to estimate the number of recessive lethal mutations carried in the average human’s genome. The researchers’ rationale for specifically focusing on recessive mutations is their higher potential impact on human health; because deleterious mutations that are recessive are less likely to be purged by selection, they can be maintained in heterozygotes with little impact on fitness, and therefore occur in greater frequency. For the purposes of their analysis, recessive lethal disorders (i.e. caused by a recessive lethal mutation) were defined by two main criteria: first, when homozygous for its causative mutation, the disease leads to the death or effective sterility of its carrier before reproductive age, and second, mutant heterozygotes do not display any disease symptoms.

 

For this study, the researchers had access to an excellent sample population, a religious community known as the Hutterian Brethren. This South Dakotan community of ~1600 individuals is one of three closely related groups that migrated from Europe to North America in the 19th century. Importantly, the community has maintained a detailed genealogical record tracing back to the original 64 founders, which also contains information on individuals affected by genetic disorders since 1950. An additional bonus is that the Hutterites practice a communal lifestyle in which there is no private property; this helps to reduce the impact of confounding socioeconomic factors on the analysis.

 

Four recessive lethal genetic disorders have been identified in the Hutterite pedigree since their more detailed records began: cystic fibrosis, nonsyndromic mental retardation, restrictive dermopathy, and myopathy. To estimate the number of recessive lethal mutations carried by the original founders, the team used both the Hutterite pedigree and a type of computational simulation known as “gene dropping”. In a typical gene dropping simulation, alleles are assigned to a founder population, the Mendelian segregation and inheritance of these alleles across generations is simulated, and the output is compared with the known pedigree. One simplifying assumption made during the analysis is that no de novo lethal mutations had arisen in the population since its founding; therefore, any disorders arising in the pedigree are attributed to mutations carried by the original founder population.

 

After combining the results from many thousands of such simulations with the Hutterite pedigree, the authors make a final estimate of roughly one or two recessive lethal mutations carried per human genome (the exact figure is ~0.58). What are the implications of this estimate for human health? Although mating between more closely related individuals has been long known to increase the probability of recessive mutations homozygosing in offspring, a more precise risk factor was generated from this study’s mutation estimate. In the discussion section it is noted that mating between first cousins, although fairly rare today in the United States, is expected to increase the chance of a recessive lethal disorder in offspring by ~1.8%.

 

Perhaps the most interesting finding from this paper was the consistency of the predicted lethal mutation load across the genomes of different animal species. The authors compared their estimates for human recessive lethal mutation number to those from previous studies examining this same question in fruit fly and zebrafish genomes, and observed a similar value of one or two mutations per genome. Of course, the many simplifying assumptions made during their analyses should be kept in mind; the estimates are considered tentative and will most likely be followed up with similar future work in other human populations. It will certainly be interesting to see how large-scale studies such as this one will impact human medical genetics in the future.

 

Electric Kool-Aid Acid Therapy?

 

By Danielle Gerhard

[quote]When the light turns green, you go. When the light turns red, you stop. But what do you do when the light turns blue with orange and lavender spots?[/quote]

– Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic

 

Research and development of drug therapies for treating mental illnesses burgeoned in the early to mid-20th century, coinciding with a more permissive public sentiment on the origins of psychological disorders.  Gradually, psychopharmacological discoveries shifted from serendipitous findings to rational drug design to target specific chemical systems in the brain. However, many treatments, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for depression or atypical antipsychotics for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, can take weeks to months to be effective and require chronic treatment. This often results in undesirable, and sometimes permanent, side effects as a result of the drug’s unintended off-target effects. Therefore, many researchers have directed their studies towards rapid-acting, acute treatments, particularly psychedelics.

 

Psychedelics entered the experimental world due to subjective reports of not only sensory hallucinations but importantly the expansion of consciousness experienced following use. Popular psychedelics include MDMA, LSD, ketamine, peyote, psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and marijuana. Like many drugs used to treat mood disorders, psychedelics also increase neural levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. The general American public stance on legalization of illicit drugs has become more lax since the days of prohibition and “reefer madness.”

 

One example of societal shifts can be seen with the most popular illicit drug in the US: marijuana. Marijuana legalization has attracted a lot of attention lately, so much so that it has entered daily political rhetoric.  The Gallup Poll on Illegal Drugs  found that the percentage of individuals in favor of legalizing marijuana has risen from 12% in 1969 to 51% in 2014. The percent of individuals who report having tried marijuana has surged from 4% in 1969 to 38% in 2013. While only 38% of those polled have tried marijuana, 70% approved of the drugs use to alleviate pain and suffering.

 

Given increasing public support for the legalization of marijuana, why is it still considered illegal at the federal level and furthermore, why is it still classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act that was enacted in 1970? Schedule I drugs are characterized as having a high potential for abuse, no medical use, and a lack of accepted safety. Other drugs in this category include heroin and methaqualone but also other psychedelics like MDMA, LSD, and psilocybin. Advocates of marijuana legalization and individuals urging for a revised categorization of psychedelics are calling on Congress to revise the CSA classification of these drugs to correspond with their science-based scheduling process.

 

There has been a lot of stigma and misconceptions circulating about the effects of psychedelics, which largely stem from conservative backlash to Vietnam-era rebellion in the youth who were reported to be using psychedelics. Three main concerns raised by the opposition regarding psychedelics include: safety, addiction and the long-term effects on mental health. While drug safety should be a concern regardless of its legal state, two legal drugs in particular, alcohol and tobacco, have been shown to be more harmful and dangerous to the brain and body than psychedelics. Recent reports by government agencies concerned with drug safety reported that only 0.005% of hospitalizations in 2013 were related to LSD or psilocybin, significantly lower than alcohol or non-medical abuse of prescription pills. Furthermore, psychedelics have very low levels of abuse when compared to alcohol and tobacco.  The National Institute for on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a government funded research agency, describes LSD as a non-addictive agent.

 

While there is a growing push to grant doctors the ability to prescribed marijuana for the purposes of treating the symptoms accompanying chronic and painful diseases like cancer or multiple sclerosis, there have been fewer studies investigating the use of other psychedelics to treat another chronic disease: mental illness. This is largely due to the third concern mentioned above. Many individuals who are opposed to loosening the restrictions on psychedelics worry that drugs like LSD, which transiently mimic aspects of schizophrenia, could independently instigate the onset of a mental illness.

 

A group from Norway has recently published a paper in the Journal of Psychopharmacology presenting data from a large-scale US population study to examine the relationship between psychedelic use and mental illness or suicidality within the year following use.  Lead authors Johansen and Krebs randomly surveyed data from 139, 095 individuals, approximately 20,000 of which were psychedelic users. After controlling for potentially confounding factors like childhood mental illness, demographics and other drug use, they failed to find any link between mental illness and psychedelic use.  There is a need for more studies like this to further benefit research, policy and the scheduling of psychedelic drugs.

 

A few interesting and promising clinical studies are currently underway to investigate the therapeutic potential of difference psychedelics for individuals who have failed to respond to mainstream treatments. The non-profit organization Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) recently gained attention for a study that has successfully crowd-sourced funding to investigate the additive effects of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Other large ongoing studies through MAPS include LSD-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety, ibogaine (from the West African shrub iboga) therapy for drug addiction, and a handful of studies using psilocybin in cancer patients or individuals diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

 

The purpose of this article is not to advocate for the widespread use of psychedelics but to discuss key empirical findings that support a reclassification of these drugs to make it easier for scientists to more effectively study their potential benefits in treatment resistant patients. While the study by Johansen and Krebs found no link between psychedelic use and mental health or suicide risk, many researchers are interested in focusing on their potential to treat mental illnesses. It is important to remember that there are still potential risks of taking psychedelics that should be taken into consideration.

 

As with all prescribed or non-prescribed drugs, there are individual differences in the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, or how our body affects the drug and how the drug affects our body. While many users may experience an expansion of consciousness and feel as if they have benefited from taking these drugs, others may have a very negative subjective experience that can have lasting negative effects. Another risk to consider is that because these drugs are illegal and therefore unregulated, they can be laced with harmful or more addictive drugs. For the most part, the studies discussed in this article are investigating the use of these drugs not in healthy individuals but rather in patients who are suffering from a mental illness and have failed to respond to any other commercially available treatments.