Staff Spotlight: Gina Murray
Gina Murray's workday begins even before she drives through the 26 (soon to be 27) stoplights between her home and Duke. Once she arrives, her work administrating our residency and fellowship programs could involve anything from making sure a new fellowship program is compliant with graduate medical education requirements to congratulating a resident on an engagement or pregnancy. In this “Staff Spotlight” interview, Murray talks to us about her three decades at Duke, how our training programs have grown over the years, and what she gets up to in the rare moments she’s not at Duke.
What are your responsibilities within the Neurology Department? What does your average work day look like?
I’ve been at Duke for a total of 33 ½ years and in Neurology for 17 years of that – I came to Neurology after working in the Medical School for about 15 years, where I met Dr. Morgenlander. He was the Neurology Clerkship Director at the time as well as the Chair of the Clerkship Directors Committee. Years later, when he found out his coordinator was going to retire, he e-mailed and asked if I would be interested in coming to work with him so that’s how I came to Neurology.
My typical work day begins at home with me skimming through e-mails on my cell phone to see if there is anything that needs to be addressed before I even get into the office. Then, I head to Duke which takes me about an hour to drive during the week. I tell people it’s only 32 miles from my house to Duke but I go through 26 stop lights to get here. Unfortunately, there is another one going up on 501 so that will make it 27!
It’s difficult to put things down in writing when I face different things each day with work obligations but also with “family” things. One day I might have a trainee in my office crying while another day I might have a trainee showing me her engagement ring or another day a trainee may tell me he and his wife are expecting a baby.
My position works very closely with the Graduate Medical Education Office (GME) as they have many deadlines there as well as many duties with a few being that we gave to make sure the trainees are compliant with their schedules, work hours, modules, etc., as well as serving on committees; I presently serve on the Leadership Committee, MedHub Committee, Wellness Committee, as well as serving yearly on the APEI Review committees to name a few.
Overall, my job is to make sure the training programs run smoothly and knowing the rules and regulations helps to make this happen. We have 8 program directors, and all of the programs are very different in how they operate. Interviews are at different times of the year for our programs but there are also other things the programs need assistance with at other times. There are so many aspects of my job that make it difficult to name them so I guess it’s just easier to say I try to help keep us from getting in trouble with the GME Office and/or accrediting bodies for the training programs.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy getting to know the trainees. I love hearing about their children or their significant others or even what they did over the weekend or vacation. It makes me feel good when a trainee confides in me that he/she is going to be a parent when no one else knows - It’s a special feeling. Unfortunately, I don’t get to see the residents as much as I did years ago. Over time things have changed as they no longer have to stop by the office to pick up a dictaphone to do their clinic transcription and, since the patients are mostly at the DMP now, they don’t get over this way as often so we catch up every chance we get depending on the rotations they are on.
I also enjoy the friendships I have made with some of our faculty as well as some of the coordinators I have grown close to while working on GME committees over the years. There is a group of four of us that try to get together each week for a working lunch because it’s nice to share ideas and we are always learning something from each other.
What’s the toughest part of your job?
It’s often difficult to get things done in a regular work day so most days I’m putting in an average of 10 or more hours a day which often includes work from home after I leave my office. I often have faculty stop in and say, “I figured you would still be here”. I’m just thankful I have such a wonderful, supportive and understanding husband!
We have seasonal things that are going on in addition to our everyday things so we never have a “down time”. This makes it difficult to always be on top of everything but we manage to meet our deadlines. Dr. Sinha commented one time that “it’s not late as long as it’s turned in on the day it’s due” so I think we do a pretty good job at meeting our deadlines.
How does the current residency program compare to the program when you first started at Duke? What’s the biggest difference between the program then and now?
When I came to Neurology 17 years ago my job description was typed on an 8.5X11 piece of paper which was double-spaced and printed using a 14 point font - I have this displayed in my office. Like my predecessor, I was only supposed to be responsible for the residency program when I was hired which consisted of 12 trainees. Shortly after I came to Neurology I inherited the fellowship programs and I believe we only had 4 of them with only one or two trainees in each.
Today, my job description is literally a book – a handbook that I, along with some of my colleagues in other departments and people in the GME Office, put together. More and more responsibilities are being added so the book is always in need of updates which we are working on now.
Neurology has more training programs than any other department at Duke – residency + 10 fellowships and we’ll be adding another fellowship probably next year. We presently have a total of 36 trainees whereas we had about ½ that when I came to Neurology in 2000. One might think having 36 trainees isn’t a lot but having multiple programs they are in makes the difference. Even if there is only one trainee in a program that means everything is different from the others. It would be easier to have 1 program with 36 trainees in them because all the rotations, evaluations, call, etc., would be the same.
Having said that, with more trainees and more programs we have a lot more work as well as more guidelines so that’s a big difference from when I first came to Neurology.
What passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department?
I love spending time with my family. My daughter works here at Duke and my son is a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Greensboro so they both stay pretty busy with their work schedules.
I also enjoy amateur photography, especially taking pictures of my two-year old granddaughter. I also enjoy spending time at the lake with friends and family fishing and riding our boat. We look forward to building our house there in a couple of years.
Murray with her husband, Donnie, daughter Chelsea, son Travis, daughter-in-law, Ryan, and granddaughter Cameron.