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University of California, Los Angeles
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
Assistant professor, Department of PsychiatryVIEW PROFILE
Midwesterner Jennifer Kruse, M.D. (MED ’09, PCON ’14), went to Los Angeles for residency after medical school at Mayo Clinic and got hooked on the sunny lifestyle. She returned to Mayo Clinic for fellowship but went back to California for psychiatry practice and to raise her family. She always knew she wanted to teach, and she’s doing that at UCLA, where she directs a newly accredited psychiatry fellowship in addition to a robust clinical practice and budding research career.
I’m from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In high school and college, I had a lot of ideas about careers including English teacher, law and political speech writer. I knew I wanted to teach in some capacity. Medicine appealed to me because it allows so many options, including going the academic route and teaching.
I decided on medicine and interviewed at Mayo Clinic. Something special about the culture and approach to care appealed to me. I received a full tuition scholarship.
I also did a psychosomatic medicine fellowship at Mayo. I’m proud of having Mayo Clinic on my CV. It’s a marker of having trained at a great place known nationally and internationally for excellent clinical care.
I completed a psychiatry residency at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). I grew up in the Midwest, went to college at the University of Iowa in Iowa City and medical school in Rochester, Minnesota. My husband and I decided to try something different for a few years. UCLA is a real powerhouse in psychiatry — a specialty that benefits from a large population base. I had diverse training experiences at UCLA including some training at the VA and at some county facilities.
We were converted by sunny California. We love spending time outdoors year round. Further, my colleagues at UCLA are fantastic, and the clinical and research opportunities at UCLA are remarkable.
I attend on the consultation liaison psychiatry service at UCLA, consulting to the rest of the hospital for patients who have psychiatric symptoms in addition to the medical or surgical condition for which they are hospitalized. It’s a teaching service, so I usually have three residents and a couple of medical students with me. We also have a small outpatient practice with some psychotherapy, and I supervise trainees in the specialty Mood Disorders Clinic — a teaching clinic. I also direct the newly accredited consultation liaison psychiatry fellowship, and spend a half day each week in the integrated mental health primary care clinic at the VA. I’m excited to recruit some great fellows to UCLA and continue to give back for the great training I’ve received.
I’m working on research and grants with a goal to better understand depressive symptoms in medically ill patients, focusing on the role of inflammation in the setting of depression. I have submitted a career development application for NIH funding that looks likely to be funded though I won’t know for sure until the fall.
Research is interesting and engaging and rewarding over the long term. Teaching, on the other hand, is immediately rewarding and a nice thing to have in your day-to-day life. I enjoy using my accumulated knowledge and experience to help others become better clinicians.
In the consultation liaison service at Mayo Clinic I worked with Kemuel Philbrick, M.D. (PCON ’92, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic Rochester). He’s a phenomenal role model of therapeutic presence with patients.
Mark Frye, M.D. (P ’06, chair, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic Rochester), was my research mentor during fellowship. I saw him at an American Psychiatric Association conference during residency, and he encouraged me to come to Mayo for my fellowship. He helped me get started in research and was a fantastic research mentor.
Joseph Grande, M.D. (PATH ’89, LABM ’91, Division of Anatomic Pathology, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic Rochester), was a role model during my preclinical years.
Training is hard and busy. It feels amazing to be off the conveyor belt of training, settled in a position and not worrying about what’s next, which is the mindset from college through the end of training. Now I can focus on my work and projects I’m interested in and pay more attention to work-life balance.
We waited to have kids until I was done training. Our home life is way busier now than it was when I was training.
My husband is a secondary school history teacher who is transitioning to be a stay-at-home parent to our 2-year-old and 9-month-old. The cost of living in the Los Angeles area is nuts, and the cost of child care for two children is unreal. We are excited about this next phase of life and will see how it goes!
We take care of babies! We live two miles from the beach in Santa Monica. We like to walk on the beach. We hike at the many gorgeous hiking locations in this area. We sing karaoke and make music at home. My husband plays guitar, and we both love to sing — the babies love this too. We also enjoy food; my husband is the cook and is always experimenting with new recipes.
See past New Chapter stories here.