A Week in the Life (PGY2)

A Typical Week for Adam Howard, MD, ScM


  • Adam Howard sitting on a stool
    Morning: My days start between 5 and 5:30am with exercise, prayer, and making food. Then I get ready and get to Central Regional Hospital (CRH) by 8am. Morning involves rounding, meeting with the interdisciplinary team, and documentation. Med-psych conference is at noon; recent memorable topics have included epilepsy, fibromyalgia, and addiction.
  • Afternoon and evening: The rest of the day is spent tying up loose ends, teaching, and maybe seeing an admit or talking in more depth with patients. Every second Monday at 3:30pm we have MRI rounds, where interesting neuropsychiatric cases are discussed. Afterwards, I run the list with my attending around 4:30pm, and then head home at 5pm. The rest of the evening is spent playing with my son and helping him sleep, spending time with my wife, sitting near the cats, and reading.


  • Adam's cat napping with his son's stuffed dog
    Adam's cat napping with his son's stuffed dog
    Morning: My morning routine is similar most days. Many Tuesday mornings, the forensic psychiatrists at CRH hold a conference where a patient is interviewed then the room discusses the case; these are a unique opportunity!
  • Afternoon and evening: Because I am in both the clinician educator track and the psychotherapy track, my academic half days start at 12pm at least twice a month. Main curriculum academic half day runs from 2 to 5pm. Psychiatry and Law, Art of the Psychiatric Consult, and Biopsy (biological psychiatry) are a few courses we’ve recently started in PGY2; they are extremely interesting! Afterwards I spend some time with my wife and son, do some reading, and head to bed. 


  • Morning: If I haven’t listened to a psychiatry-related podcast yet, I may be listening to one on the scenic drive to CRH Wednesday morning. Wednesday morning is when we have treatment team, where the interdisciplinary team checks in with a few patients each week about their progress. Chair’s conference is at noon. Topics vary, but two recurring ones that stand out are Sharing Struggles (clinicians share stories of formative struggles in their past or present) and mindfulness. 
  • Afternoon and evening: After finishing up my work for the afternoon, I head to therapy (a valuable experience to invest in during psychiatry residency) at 5pm; the department has been very supportive of this. Afterwards, I go to the Taekwondo studio to teach and train until around 9pm. 


  • Morning: Thursdays are of a similar pace to other mornings. Time permitting, I may go sit out in the CRH unit gardens around 11:30am. 
  • Afternoon and evening: Psychiatry Grand Rounds are at noon and feature brilliant speakers from all over the country. After, I follow up with patients, write notes, teach, discuss various topics with the attending, and head home by 5pm. I generally make it home on time to eat dinner with my wife and son, then I help him get to bed and do some reading before I retire for the evening. 


  • Morning: Morning routine as usual. At noon we have McEvoy rounds, where a resident presents one of their patients and an expert attending who doesn’t know them conducts an interview. The group then discusses the case. These have been very rich learning opportunities!
  • Afternoon and evening: I’m sure to add any pertinent heads-ups to the weekend sign out, finish up tasks, and head home. Spend time with the family, read, sleep. 


  • Adam and his son play on the slide near Durham Farmer's Market
    Adam and his son play on the slide near the Durham Farmer's Market
    Morning: The Durham farmer’s market is on Saturdays and my wife, son, and I often visit the market. For the rest of the morning, I head to the Taekwondo school to teach, usually wrapping up by mid-afternoon. Most Saturdays we order food from ZenFish, a (very good) nearby Poke restaurant before heading home.
  • Afternoon and evening: We may go to a park or on a walk in the neighborhood. In the evening, I catch up on emails and read before bed. 


  • Morning: I often meet with mentees on Sunday morning. I also teach a Taekwondo class via Zoom and have an Arabic lesson. 
  • Afternoon and evening: Sunday afternoons and evenings variably involve spending time with my wife and son, running errands, or going on outings (some favorites are H Mart, a Korean grocery store, Duke Gardens, the Museum of Life and Science, and Lake Crabtree).

I chose Duke because ...

... the people I met when interviewing seemed as kind and thoughtful as they were passionate, genuine, and diligent. The people make this place. 

My favorite thing about Durham is ...

... wonderful weather, excellent cuisine, abundant curiosities to explore with my family... in a word: Durham. 

My favorite thing about Duke is ...

... a culture which is characterized by authenticity, vulnerability, and passion. I feel that, apart from facilitating excellent training, our culture continually nurtures my growth into a better person. 

My advice to prospective residents is ...

... to learn to articulate your purpose. Knowing why you do what you do makes it easier to move forward on the hardest days, and sharing your conviction with others normalizes passion. 

Read other Week in the Life narratives: