Staff Spotlight: Chris Berry

As our Undergraduate Medical Education Coordinator, Chris Berry is responsible for handling the meetings, lesson schedules, grades, and other paperwork associated with the second-year and fourth-year medical students learning more about the Duke Neurology Department. For this week’s “Spotlight” interview, Berry talks to us about balancing this work while also managing recruitment for the Neuromuscular Medicine fellowship program, how Duke has changed in the three decades she’s been here, and her hobbies of knitting travel, and cheering the Blue Devils when she’s not at work.

How long have you been at Duke? How long have you been with the Neurology Department?
I have been at Duke for 29 years. I started in Community and Family Medicine, then worked in the Cancer Center, in Cancer Prevention, Detection and Control, and then the Director’s office, before starting in Neurology in 2000. I worked part-time for 14 years and returned to work full time in April of 2013 in my current position as the Undergraduate Medical Education Coordinator.

What are your responsibilities within the Neurology Department? What does your average work day look like?
I handle all the administrative details of our medical student education program. Each month we have 10-12 second-year medical students completing their month-long clerkship. I meet the students at orientation, assign them to their teams, organize the monthly schedule including lectures, classes, shelf review sessions, run our feedback sessions and manage all the evaluation data and grades, making sure we meet our deadlines. I collect all the student performance evaluations, summarize the data, generate grades and maintain all our records.

I also coordinate all aspects of the fourth-year electives, which are similar to our second-year clerkship, but on a smaller scale. In addition, I work closely with the Neuromuscular Medicine Fellowship program, managing the yearly recruitment. I really enjoy working with the NMM faculty, fellows and staff. At Duke, I am part of the group of clerkship coordinators who meet monthly to talk about what’s happening with our clerkships and the School of Medicine. I recently joined a national committee of clerkship coordinators and will be a work group leader for professional development on the clerkship committee team, working with coordinators at different schools. I’m really looking forward to meeting the group at AAN this May when I’ll be participating in a Clerkship Certification Workshop.

How does your work now compare to your job when you first started here? What is the biggest change in your daily routine?
When I started in Neurology in 2000, I had a brand new baby at home and left my financial job in the Cancer Center to stay home with her. I worked part-time doing medical transcription for the Division of Neurology and over those 14 years, I learned an awful lot about neurology, from headaches, stroke, memory and movement disorders, epilepsy and sleep. I think I transcribed notes for most of the subspecialties. Notes were dictated on tapes when I started but eventually, we went to a digital system which streamlined the process. When EPIC came along and transcription phased out 14 years later, I returned to work full time in my current position working with Dr. Juel and the medical education program.

How has Duke changed most since you started working here?
Duke has changed a lot in 29 years. Computers have changed everything, smartphones make staying in touch and sharing info much simpler. Of course, Duke is always growing, so over the years there has been a lot of expansion and new building all over campus.

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department?
I love traveling and my husband and I travel as much as we can with our daughter. I have been fortunate to see a lot of the United States as my parents took our family all across the U.S. when I was growing up. I’ve shared my love of travel with my family and enjoy exploring new places with them. I also enjoy gardening, reading, cooking, and knitting. You will usually find me with some kind of project in my bag and l enjoy sharing my projects with others.

I started a monthly knitting group with friends last year and we get together for dinner and social knitting. I love creative activities and inherited that from my mother and grandmother, who sew, knit, crochet and quilt. My husband, daughter and I are die-hard Duke fans. My husband’s father was a Duke grad, so he was born into it and I married into it. We both attended NC universities (Elon and Appalachian State) so we cheer for our schools and Duke. We have enjoyed season tickets to men’s basketball for many years and love going to games and cheering on the Blue Devils (not just basketball, we love baseball, football, and lacrosse too).