Q & A with Jenny Baumhauer, M.D.
Clinical Assistant Professor
Michigan Medicine Department of Psychiatry
Where are you from?
I was born in and spent my early childhood outside of Boston, Massachusetts. In my early teen years my family moved to San Francisco, California, and I stayed in the Bay Area for college and work before moving to Michigan for medical school in 2012. My immediate family still lives in the small town of San Carlos, which is where I consider myself to be from.
Why did you choose U-M for residency?
The people. Of course, I could speak to the impressive training environments and opportunities, the access to the wide variety of clinical experts within the field, or the diverse patient population because University of Michigan Psychiatry is well known for all of that. But for me, it was the people.
During interviews, U-M felt like the first place that was truly interested in how they could support an applicant in their interests and career development, as opposed to many other programs which tried to determine whether you would fit into what they had to offer. The residents and faculty were all genuine, happy, and supportive, which was important to me as I would be spending long hours with them for the next several years. I chose U-M because I felt like it could help me be the best psychiatrist I could be, all while working with wonderful people along the way. And it did. I would choose this program again in a heartbeat.
Why did you stay at Michigan to join our faculty?
I loved my residency experience, during which I got to work closely with many individuals in various areas of the system. I was always impressed with the holistic model of patient care, as well as the strong collaborative nature of the department, where people seemed to genuinely enjoy their work. The combination of unique clinical environments (such as Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES)), breadth of clinical expertise, outstanding patient care, and wonderful coworkers I felt were worth braving the snow for!
What does your work focus on?
My clinical work is focused in the hospital sector, where I split my time between PES, our adult inpatient unit (9C), and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). I’ve always enjoyed high acuity patients and crisis stabilization, and these three areas not only allow me to practice within these interests, but also commonly overlap and allow me to deliver more comprehensive care in each setting.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
In inpatient psychiatry and PES our patients enter our care in times of crisis, often intensely suicidal, psychotic, or manic. They are not functioning in the community and have often undergone a significant stressor in their lives.
I love that my job gets to change patients’ trajectories as we pause to take a holistic view of each patient to find the gaps in support and care limiting their success outside the hospital. It is incredibly gratifying working within a multidisciplinary team to provide therapeutic interventions, medication management, and psychosocial supports to patients, and subsequently helping people stabilize from crises.
What area in mental health do you think has taken the biggest toll during the COVID pandemic?
I think the real question is: is there an area of mental health that hasn’t taken a toll during COVID?! The volume of patients presenting to Psychiatric Emergency Services has increased, notably children and geriatric patients. This has caused increased referrals to all levels of care: inpatient, partial hospitalization programs, and outpatient psychiatry and therapy.
The acuity of these patients has also appeared to increase, with more complex patients being admitted to inpatient units with subsequently prolonged hospitalization times and more frequent utilization of services such as ECT, TMS, and ketamine. The time to initial engagement in outpatient services (Partial Hospitalization Program, psychiatry, and therapy) has also increased due to these high volumes, which continues to pose challenges. Overall, I feel the pandemic has highlighted that mental health is in dire need of more resources: more psychiatric beds, more providers, and innovative ways to address gaps in care.
Who has been the most influential mentor to you?
A wise woman once told me it’s important to have multiple mentors, and I’ve been lucky to have worked with several influential people throughout my academic career. I can confidently say I would not be who or where I am without the guidance and expertise of Drs. Laura Hirshbein and Heather Schultz, both of whom I’ve always admired in clinical practice, and as women, navigating the world of academic medicine. They constantly support, challenge, and motivate me and are such strong, respected, kind and knowledgeable women who teach and lead by example. I am forever grateful for their guidance and friendship.
What are the top 3 things you like to do in your free time in Ann Arbor?
I am a lover of all things food and drink, so you can often find me downtown at one of the many amazing restaurants or bars Ann Arbor is home to (specifically Aventura or The Raven’s Club)! My former co-residents and I also found Ann Arbor has some great forms of fun transit, and highly recommend spending time at Whirly Ball or on a Pedal Tour. In the summer I enjoy being out in the sun and floating or kayaking down the Huron River!