A Week in the Life (First-Year Fellow)

A Typical Week for Alexander Norton, MD


  • Alex treating one of their dogs (Callie, a Whippet mix) with a dog food popsicle.
    Alexander treats his dog Callie, a Whippet mix, with a dog food popsicle
    Morning: I start each of my mornings off with a walk with my dog, Callie. I am currently assigned to the pediatric emergency psychiatry service and have scheduled scholarly time, which I use to prepare for my board exam and catch up on reading.
  • Afternoon: I attend the Psychosocial Treatment Clinic, a longitudinal CBT clinic with a focus on anxiety, depression, and OCD in children and adolescents. The first two hours include a seminar and group staffing with Dr. Chris Mauro, who is an incredibly warm, engaging, and dynamic psychologist and serves as the director of the clinic. I then spend the remainder of my afternoon seeing therapy patients and families. I am also able to observe my co-fellows behind a two-way mirror (and vice versa), which I have found to be invaluable for my own learning and growth as a psychotherapist.
  • Evening: After work, I typically stop by a local farmer’s market (Perkins Orchard is my favorite so far) to stock up on fresh produce and food for the week. I spend the rest of my evening going on another walk and catching up on things for the rest of the week.


  • Morning and afternoon: I spend my day in the Pediatric Emergency Department of the Duke University Medical Center. Depending on the day, this typically includes seeing one to two new patients in the ED, as well as following up on another two to three patients that might be boarding in the ED and awaiting inpatient referrals, receiving medication management, coordinating outpatient care, and/or safety planning. I also work alongside medical students, pediatric residents, psychiatry residents, pediatric neurology fellows, behavioral case managers, and my co-fellow on the pediatric consult-liaison team, so there is a lot of collaborative learning and interdisciplinary case discussion.
  • Evening: I unwind from the ED with a nice meal and another evening walk. I am hopeful to begin my psychodynamic training at the Psychoanalytic Center of the Carolinas (based in Chapel Hill) next year, and many of the courses take place on Tuesday evenings—I look forward to starting these later in my training.


  • Morning: I spend my morning working alongside Dr. Muhammad Zafar, a pediatric epileptologist. Depending on the week, I see and staff patients in his epilepsy clinic or work alongside him on the inpatient pediatric epilepsy monitoring unit. Dr. Zafar’s passion for teaching is palpable and his bedside manner is incredibly warm—this experience has been one of my best thus far at Duke.
  • Afternoon: Next, I attend an outpatient child psychiatry clinic with Dr. Jason Cho. Dr. Cho’s clinic is unique with a broad spectrum of patients and families from a diversity of backgrounds and presentations. I utilize this time and clinic to both observe how Dr. Cho interviews patients and to gain feedback on my own interview style, and Dr. Cho spends time between each appointment answering any questions I have and discussing interesting points of the encounter.


  • Morning: I attend Academic Half-Day with my co-fellows. This year, our didactics are approximately 50% in-person and 50% virtual. The first few weeks of lectures include content regarding orientation and introductory materials, and then the rest of the year is separated into various subject blocks, which each include a variety of faculty lectures, case conferences, and journal clubs.
  • Afternoon: Thursday afternoons include Grand Rounds and the Family Studies clinic. The Family Studies clinic is a family therapy clinic that starts with a one-hour lecture or presentation, followed by three family therapy or couples therapy cases. Typically, this involves being the lead therapist on at least one case and participating on a team on two other cases. Family Studies is a highly unique experience due to its live-feedback model during sessions, as well as its pre-process and post-process team-based approach before and after cases. The clinic supervised by some incredible therapists and supervisors, and as a family systems-oriented child psychiatrist, it is by far my favorite part of my child psychiatry training thus far.


  • Morning and afternoon: I spend another day in the pediatric emergency department (ED) at Duke University Medical Center. On Friday afternoons, I also join the pediatric psychiatry consult-liaison (CL) service team to join in on their Friday didactic series, led by our CL chief and CL and ED faculty. During this series, we have discussed topics such as infantile delirium, eating disorders, and autoimmune encephalitis, as well as case presentations to discuss interesting or challenging encounters during the week.
  • Alex Norton holding his dog Callie
    Alexander playing with his dog outside
    Evening: After a long week, I spend my time relaxing at home. I typically like to watch sports, a movie, or TV series—recently, I have been watching “The Sopranos.”


On Saturday, I wake up and walk my dog as part of my normal routine. I then head to Press in the American Tobacco District of Durham to enjoy some brunch. It is one of my favorite brunch spots I have tried thus far. I hope to eventually try out most of the highly-rated brunch places in the Triangle and compile a ranking list.


I am admittedly a homebody. Sundays are the perfect time to get back to my introverted roots, relax, watch sports at home, talk with my family, and spend some time outside.

I chose Duke because ...

… of the people!

My favorite thing about Durham is ...

… the nature, weather, and trails. The trees and greenery are beautiful here.

My favorite thing about Duke is ...

… the emphasis on systems of care and family systems, as well as the approachability of the faculty. 

My advice to prospective residents is ...

... to listen to your heart. Speaking from experience, I made approximately 15-20 different Excel spreadsheets that considered a wide variety of different weighted factors, but in the end, I ranked programs by how I felt and by talking to people I love and trust—and I couldn't be happier.

Read about a second-year fellow's Week in the Life.