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Q&A with Nesrin Abu Ata, MD

Where do you work?
I own my private practice at Mind; Alchemy PLLC where I provide integrative psychiatry with focus on mind body medicine. I also cover at a local addiction center taking care of patients from all ages, inpatient, residential and outpatient.
What's a typical day in your shoes?

I am my own office manager, medical assistant and nurse in my private practice. So, I take calls for my practice throughout the day. I may see my own patients in my clinic, or may see patients in the addiction center. I also do guided meditation videos online. I also may be on call to take calls from physicians through the physician support line.

What inspired you to pursue psychiatry? 

I grew up in Israel where there is unfortunately a lot of trauma, physical and emotional, and so I came to appreciate that one cannot address the body without the mind, and visa versa. There is also a significant component of transgenerational trauma, and so came to appreciate the significance of how trauma that is not transmuted gets transferred to the next generation. I wanted the buck to stop  with me so to speak, and to help other survivors of trauma (small t and big T). Often, the physical trauma is addressed but the emotional trauma
is not readily addressed in healthcare, which has been my experience growing up.  I trained in both family medicine and psychiatry because I wanted to take care of the whole person, mind, body and spirit. My family medicine training gave me an appreciation for family systems, primary care health systems, equipped me to advocate care for my patients and make psychiatry more available through collaborating and integrating with primary care.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I like how individualized psychiatry is to each patient with his/her life circumstances. I also appreciate how there is always hope for each patient, no matter how dire it can look or  feel on the inside. I also enjoy being able to use all the resources at my fingertips for patients, from psychopharmacology, to psychotherapy, to advocating in the local community for more resources.

Who has inspired you?

Dr Matar who was one of my psychiatry preceptors during my third year of medical school. He was a South African psychiatrist who immigrated to Israel, and worked with patients who had trauma. He payed attention
to every detail of a patient's experience, and even so, would still ask more questions to try to understand what it was like to be in the patients shoes. Hebrew was his second language, and watching him be able to be attuned and connect with patients despite cultural and language barriers taught that where there is a will to connect and
understand, there is way.

How do you spend your free time?
Pre-COVID, I liked to travel. These days, I am learning to grow my own vegetable garden, which is not easy!
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Iowa Psychiatric Society
PO Box 30413
Indianapolis, Indiana 46230