Careers in Medicine: Nichelle Haynes, DO, Perinatal Psychiatrist
Meet Dr. Nichelle Haynes, a psychiatrist specializing in mental health during infertility, pregnancy, postpartum and parenting. I literally cannot think of a more needed specialist in this day and age! She is also a mama of 2 littles and such an inspiration.
Also, for those who ask me about research every day, her answer will surprise you!
Read on and follow her on Instagram!
Name: Nichelle Haynes, DO
Job title: Perinatal Psychiatrist
Type of practice: Part time private practice
Social media: Instagram @dr.nichellehaynes
Journey to medicine
Undergrad: Baylor University, BS in Psychology with minors in Biology and Chemistry
Medical school: University of North Texas Health Science Center
Residency: University of Texas Medical Branch
Why did you choose this field?
Psychiatry has always been my goal. I knew applying to medical school I would be going into Psychiatry. I genuinely love the subject and I fully believe you cannot have health without your mental health. Perinatal Psychiatry became an interest of mine after residency when I realized treating women was so rewarding for me. I really enjoy how improving mental health for the birthing parent during the postpartum period can have a huge impact on the functioning of the entire family and the long term physical and mental health of the baby.
How did you make your CV stand out? For medical school or residency? My academics prior to medical school were fantastic. Like so many others, entering into medical school I became an average student. I made my residency applications stand out by doing well on Step 2 and really being involved on my clinical rotations. I made my interest in psychiatry known on every rotation and made what I could of every rotation so I would know how a psychiatrist could be helpful to different fields in medicine.
How much research experience did you have when you applied for medical school? For residency?
None. Absolutely none.
What is the most fulfilling thing about your career?
Seeing mothers thrive in the postpartum period. This is so rewarding!
What is the least fulfilling thing about your career?
What does a day in the life look like for you?
I wake up when my kids do and get them off to daycare. I will do a short workout about 1/2 the days and be ready for clinic to start at 9 AM. I currently see patients via tele until 4 PM Monday through Thursday. I will often take a half day each week to manage administrative tasks to keep the clinic running smoothly. My children return home at 4 PM, I spend the evening with them and after they go to bed I will finish clinic notes I didn't complete during the day.
How many hours a week do you work?
About 20 doing direct patient care at the clinic, another 6 doing locums telepsychiatry work and about 10 managing administrative tasks for the clinic.
What are common conditions you manage?
Postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, bipolar disorder.
What is your favorite condition to manage?
Postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder. It takes a lot of work and persistence to improve but seeing mothers understand their condition for the first time and feeling their relief when they feel better is so satisfying and rewarding.
What is a big misconception about your field?
That we want people to be on medications? We don't, but understand that medications play a role in health in some occasions. Or that medications for psychiatric illness aren't safe during pregnancy? Oftentimes psychiatric illness during pregnancy is riskier than the medications we use. Most do not account for the risk of illness which can have big implications for the health of the birthing parent, the pregnancy and the baby.
What is something surprising that you do in your job?
Therapy. A vast majority of patients benefit from having the support of a visit, even if no medication is prescribed.
Do you perform procedures?
Life outside work
What are your hobbies or interests outside medicine? I spend a lot of time on social media providing education about perinatal mental illness. If I'm not with my family, working or on social media, I enjoy reading cheesy novels, traveling (pre-COVID) and trying but never sticking with different kinds of crafts.
Do you feel like your have work-life "balance"? If so, how do you achieve it?
I absolutely have work-life balance. I was a former inpatient psychiatrist and medical director. This wore me so thin and I took my current role intentionally to make a better life for myself and my family. I decided I needed to be intentional about my life and my time if I was going to be a good doctor, partner and parent. Being in a position to provide education and advice to others I realized I needed to listen to my own advice and take care of myself.
Any last words of wisdom for those considering a career in medicine?
Going into medicine is best for someone who truly sees it as their passion. A life in medicine does not mean you lose other parts of your life, but you certainly have to be intentional about growing important relationships and identities outside of medicine to be the best provider you can be. You cannot provide your best care if you're not your best self.
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I will be featuring different physicians and healthcare workers here on the Blog regularly through Careers in Medicine Series. Through sharing these stories, my hope is to demystify careers in medicine for the younger generation and for those hoping to pursue medicine. Share this with someone who might be interested!
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