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Aurora Bennett, MD, has been interested in psychology for as long as she can remember. She has also been in love with science and education. Consolidating her passions, Bennett would go on to study clinical psychiatry, eventually leaning toward improving the educational experience of residents and students.
Bennett has earned numerous awards, including the 2007 Deanís Award for excellence in teaching at the College of Medicine, an outstanding performance award during her studies at Ohio State University and a resident teaching award during her time as a resident at UC.
How long have you been with UC? What compelled you to work here rather than any other institution?
"I came to UC to do my residency in psychiatry in 1986 and then did a child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship from 1989 through 1991. I joined the UC faculty after graduation but worked at Cincinnati Childrenís Hospital Medical Center from 1991 through 1997 and then came over to UC. I came here to train because of the caliber of psychotherapy training offered and the collegial atmosphere of the department. I have stayed in an academic center due to my passion for education and saw opportunities to build a career in education and clinical work here."
What compelled you to focus your medical career on psychiatry?
"As an undergrad, I majored in psychology at Ohio State University because of my curiosity and fascination with gaining a better understanding of how each of us come to be so unique in how we navigate through life. As I debated between pursuing a graduate degree in psychology and entering med school, I realized that I needed to maintain science in my career. Also, my father was a primary care physician who served as an important role model for the richness that could exist in the doctor/patient relationship. Such a relationship gives us, as physicians, the privilege of learning about the personal struggles, fears and desires of our patients so that we may partner with them to help them get to a better place in their lives. Medical school facilitated my love of science and my natural desire to connect with each patient beyond the necessary lab results and procedures. Psychiatry is undergoing an amazing growth in its knowledge about the science behind our behaviors, emotions and thought processes as we gradually identify brain areas and pathways that are involved in these human functions."
How has your own residency experience influenced your goals for UC's psychiatry residents?
"I donít think that I can pinpoint specific aspects of my medical school and residency training that have contributed to my goals for our residents and students. Rather, my having been a learner, and will continue to be one throughout life, and an educator have provided me with a better understanding of the importance of how we approach teaching. We know from adult learning theory that adults engage best in learning that involves active participation and engagement with the material and with material that feels practical and useful for their work in contrast to the older methods of being passive recipients of information. Most likely, a combination of both is needed to engage a range of learning styles. The most important 'pearls of knowledge' can sometimes come from an informal conversation with a trusted mentor who truly joins their mentee where he or she is to help them process the decisions and quandaries before them."
Whatís next for you? Do you have any other goals for your medical career?
"I have just accepted a new position as associate dean for student affairs at the College of Medicine beginning Aug. 1. I will step down from my positions as residency program director, director of medical student education and vice chair in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience. I will continue to teach residents and maintain my clinical practice but will devote most of my time to the new role. In this role, I will oversee admissions, financial aid, registrar functions, academic and career counseling functions, as well as our pathways and dual admissions programs."
What do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies or interests?
"Honestly, I love being there for my family. I enjoy being a wife and mother. I also like to stay healthy by bicycling, walking and hiking. I also love to cook."
* This story was written by Perry Simpson, an intern in the AHC Public Relations and Communications Office.