A Day in the Life of a third-year Psychiatry Resident: Nora Dennis
Although I was born in Ann Arbor, MI, my parents moved to Durham, NC when I was 7 and I grew up in the Triangle area (Chapel Hill and Durham). I went to the NC School of Science and Mathematics for high school and attended UNC as a Morehead Scholar. While at UNC I studied Anthropology and Environmental Studies, and completed an honors thesis examining trends in SUV advertising as a cultural study of broader trends in American values. Not exactly medicine! During and after undergrad I traveled in Nepal, Australia, SE Asia and South America, and worked for Planned Parenthood, My travels led me to the conclusion that I wanted to serve other people through medicine, and I ultimately chose to attend Duke for medical school. I had a strong interest in global health, leading me to work in Niger with the International Organization for Women and Development, in Mali with Save the Children, and in Tanzania with USAID. I also studied public health at UNC during med school and got my MSPH in Maternal and Child Health. At the conclusion of med school I was torn between internal medicine and psychiatry, so I decided to pursue both! I spent two years as a Duke med-psych resident before transitioning to categorical psychiatry in my third year as I narrowed my clinical and academic interest. I am mother to two wonderful children - a three month old daughter and a three year old son.
Why I chose Duke
Duke has the best Med-Psych program in the country and awesome global health opportunities for residents. In addition, my husband was a doctoral student at NC State and I had a six-month old when I started residency, so moving was out of the question.
Today I got up at 6:30 and ate breakfast with my son, got my daughter ready for the day. I got to the outpatient clinic at 8am and saw patients until 10am, when I had CBT practicuum. I saw a CBT patient at noon, then zipped over to the VA for afternoon PRIME clinic. The holidays are a busy and difficult time for our patients and I ended up squeezing a patient in in Duke clinic at the end of the day so that I could see him before he had to leave town. I then went home around 5pm for dinner with my kids, and finished notes later in the evening after they went to bed. Because I have children, I usually work out in the early morning 2-3 days a week, but my colleagues have plenty of time for that in the evenings. Once a week I also engage in teaching on 9A, the VA inpatient psychiatry ward, where I serve as Teaching Chief. Every few months I volunteer at the Duke Psychiatry Homeless Clinic at the Urban Ministries Shelter, which is from 5:30-8:30 pm. This clinic is coordinated by residents and staffed by attendings and speaks to our program's commitment to social justice.
Where I live
I live in Old North Durham, which I think is the coolest neighborhood in Durham. The houses are adorable and you can walk to multiple cars, coffee shops, the Farmer's Market, a yoga studio, two gyms and a brewery.
My favorite Triangle-area restaurant
I like Geer Street Gardens - they serve lots of local food and I can walk there from my house.
Other interesting facts, tidbits, miscellaneous
I am a Durham native, but also a huge fan of this town. It is diverse, youthful and fun. For those excited by local food and crafts, the Farmer's Market is wonderful and there are numerous community-supported agriculture programs where organic local produce is delivered to your house if you can't make it to market. Since there are so many local universities, intellectual life is alive here. The arts are more affordable than in many large cities. The "going out" opportunities are more earthy than in some metropolitan areas, but super fun (check out the Rowdy Square Dance at Pinhook as an example). There is great hiking in the NC mountains only a few hours away, and the beaches are also a few hours away and really lovely.