A Day in the Life of a PGY2 Psychiatry Resident: Chelsea Neumann, MD

A Day in the Life of a second-year Psychiatry Resident: Chelsea Neumann

My background
I am from Lincoln, NE, born and raised a Cornhusker as my father was the Nebraska wrestling coach for the first 17 years of my life.  I went to the University of Nebraska and studied Biological Sciences, Art History and Sociology.  I had the great opportunity to study art history in London during my third year of college, and also spent six months living on Orcas Island working at a YMCA Outdoor Environmental Education camp for inner-city kids before starting medical school at UNMC.  In medical school I traveled to Jamaica and Ecuador to work in hospitals and clinics, and realized my passion was working with the underserved.  I initially planned to be a pediatrician; however, after spending a month with psychiatric patients I knew my true passion was working with children with mental illness and promoting mental health awareness.


Why I chose Duke
I had always wanted to live in North Carolina because I had visited as a child and loved the beach and the Appalachian mountains, as well as basketball!  I finally had the chance when I fell in love with Duke's psychiatry program.  I had heard wonderful things about the program director, Dr. Grace Thrall, and from the first phone call to now in my 2nd year of training, they were all true.  Duke was one of the more balanced programs I interviewed at (I did 16 interviews!) and I have found we not only have great training in psychopharmacology and the neurobiological basis of mental illness, but the program also emphasizes psychotherapy training.  At Duke we work at a few different hospital systems, including the VA, Duke hospital, and CRH (new state-of-the-art state hospital), which gives us a great variety of experiences working with different demographics of patients.  The attendings are very diverse and knowledgeable, but are also a lot of fun to work with!  Dr. Thrall allows for a lot of flexibility in your schedule, so if you are interested in doing research or therapy as a 1st or 2nd year, she helps you work that into your schedule.  Third and Fourth year are meant for electives and outpatient, and you can travel to many different countries for global mental health electives also! Lastly, and most importantly, the residents were people I related to and who have now become my closest friends, which really adds to the family feel of the program.


My Schedule
Right now I am on night float in the Duke ED.  I work with an intern and it is great working together to see patients who present to the ED overnight, which is always interesting and a great learning experience.  We see adults and children whose common presenting complaints include depression, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, overdoses and toxidromes, anxiety and panic, conversion disorders, catatonia, psychosis, mania, alcohol and drug abuse/intoxication, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, domestic violence, delirium and catatonia.  My shift starts at 7PM and ends at 7AM, and we work 5 nights on, 2 nights off, 4 weeks total each year, PGY1 and PGY2.  Our nights are busy, but we have a lot of fun and learn a lot with the wide variety of patient presentations.


Where I live 
We live in Durham in a rental house with a fenced yard for my two dogs.  Durham is very affordable and you can afford to live in a nice place for cheap, just check Craigslist to get an idea.  A lot of people buy houses, which is very affordable also.  I live in the Northgate neighborhood which is very green and close to Northgate park where the neighborhood has a monthly food truck rodeo and where people are often out walking their dogs or playing with their kids.  There is also a dog park which is fun for us dog lovers :)


My favorite Triangle-area restaurant
One of the great things about Durham and the Triangle: the food!  We love to eat out at the many different local restaurants, but our favorite is probably Geer Street Garden due to the great food, outdoor seating area year-round and great atmosphere.  It is also close to the Motorco music venue and Fullsteam brewery where you can sit at large picnic tables with friends and soon-to-be friends and bring your dogs and kids too!  Oh, and another great new tapas restaurant named "Mateo" opened downtown, which is now our favorite posh restaurant for special occassions!


Other interesting facts, tidbits, miscellaneous
I love to hike and attend live concerts, and this is a great place to do both! Raleigh has a great outdoor amphitheatre, Durham has the DPAC and many small cafes/bars that have local bands and artists, and Chapel Hill Carrboro has Cat's Cradle and many others I'm not listing.  Also, the Eno River and the many lakes are great for hiking, the beach is 2-3 hours away, depending which way you drive, and the mountains, Asheville and the Appalachian Trail are 3-4 hours away, giving us outdoorsy types many great options for your weekends and vacations off.


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