Q&A with Rebecca Reetz Neal, MSW, MD, DLFAPA
Where do you work?
Semi-retired. Stepping down from faculty appointment at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth as of July 1. Newly licensed in Iowa.
What’s a typical day in your shoes?
To describe my typical day, I need to explain my move to Iowa. I grew up in this state and graduated from Grinnell College. After living more than 50 years in MA and NH I had decided to relocate to a newly constructed home in the Mayflower Retirement Community in Grinnell in September 2020. COVID changed the plan. Since I had already sold my home, I went ahead with the move. Currently I'm renting in Grinnell and waiting for construction to begin. I have no plans to work in the immediate future, but would consider a few hours/week after I'm more settled. I'm still doing some clinical supervision virtually with a Geisel psychiatry resident, but that will end this month. My dog, a Standard Schnauzer named Brody, takes me for a walk twice a day. I've recently gotten back to the gym, and I enjoy working in the yard.
What inspired you to pursue psychiatry?
Psychiatry is a second career for me. I was a masters level psychiatric social worker in Boston for 13 years before I entered medical school. I fully intended to pursue primary care. However, at that time the internists I shadowed were very unhappy about new constraints on practice imposed by insurance and the emergence of managed care. I've always believed in the healing aspects of the relationship with patients, so I decided to stay in mental health, and I've never regretted it.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I've enjoyed many aspects of my work including direct care of patients, leading multidisciplinary teams, and teaching residents and medical students. I loved the challenge of helping seriously ill patients who had been labeled as "treatment resistant."
Who has inspired you?
My patients have been primary sources of inspiration. Ned Cassem, MD at MGH, and Bob Vidaver, MD at Dartmouth each were incredible role models and taught me so much.
How do you spend your free time?
That's changing since I'm no longer working so much. I like to read, and I go on long walks with Brody, my dog. I love to be outdoors and look forward to getting settled in a place I can plant a flower garden. I'm a skier and hope to continue annual western ski trips. In recent years I've done a yearly cultural exchange type trip with a group of mental health professionals led by Nada Stotland, MD. When it's safe, I'll go back to singing in a church choir and helping out as a piano accompanist if needed. I've recently become a member of the Grinnell College Alumni Council, so I've upped my volunteer activities for the college.