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Resident Spotlight: Margarethe Goetz, PA-C, PhD

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Before coming to Duke, Margarethe Goetz, PA-C, PhD, already had a physician assistant degree, a master’s, and a doctorate. Now, as a current APP resident, she’s obtaining firsthand neurological training within the inpatient and outpatient settings. For this week’s “Spotlight” interview, Goetz talks to us about her duties as an APP resident, how her father influenced her interest in medicine, and how her previous degrees influence her current work and her plans for the future.

What are your current responsibilities within the as an APP neurology resident? What does a typical day for you look like?
Responsibilities depend on the rotation. Since July I’ve been in the outpatient clinics, which involves seeing scheduled patients and discussing cases with faculty. As I transition to inpatient rotations, daily responsibilities will change accordingly. Regardless, everyday I try to learn as much as I can from everyone I work with since this year of residency will be over before I know it.

How and when did you first get interested in neurology? What excites you most about the field?
I remember being curious about how the brain worked as a kid. My father is a physician and a psychologist, so I always had someone around to answer my questions. Studying cognitive science in college and working with stroke and TBI patients as a paramedic solidified and focused my interest in neurology. The fact that brain health is so central to quality of life is one aspect that makes it such an interesting medical field.

In addition to your physician assistant degree, you have an MS in nutrition and exercise, and a PhD in epidemiology. How do each of those degrees influence your current work?
Nutrition almost always plays a role in health and disease, whether that role is disease prevention, support, or primary intervention. Patients often seek nutrition guidance during clinic visits, so my nutrition training is handy as an extra tool to help them when appropriate. The most direct application of epidemiology to clinical practice is evaluation of the quality of clinical research results and its applicability to patient care.

Before coming to Duke you spent a year as a postdoctoral neurology research fellow at Emory. What was that experience like, and what was the subject of your research?
My postdoctoral fellowship was a unique opportunity to take part in early stages of a large epidemiologic cohort study working with clinicians and researchers across multiple disciplines including neurology, internal medicine, cardiology, and public health. Broadly, the aims of the study, which is ongoing, include understanding determinants of healthy aging as well as identifying early biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. My work was divided between monitoring early recruitment and data collection as well as my own research focused on the role of family history of cardiovascular disease in cognitive function.

What plans do you have for after you complete your residency?
Certainly, I plan to continue in clinical practice in neurology after residency. I also plan to include research in my career. In addition to answering research questions relevant to my clinical practice, I’m interested in the role of APPs in neurology from a health services research perspective. 

What other passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department?
Outside of work, I enjoy exploring the outdoors with my husband, Sean, and our retriever mix. There is still a lot to explore as we are new to North Carolina. I’m also getting reacquainted with my inner bookworm by picking up novels when I can.

Goetz spends some quality time on the beach with her dog, Ace.