Maureen C. Dale, MD, is an assistant clinical professor in the division of geriatric medicine. Her specialty areas include outpatient primary geriatric care, geriatric syndromes including frailty and cognitive impairment, care of hospitalized older adults and graduate medical education in geriatrics.
What brought you to UNC Medical Center?
I came to UNC for my residency training in Internal Medicine in 2011.
Did you always want to be a doctor?
I think so. My father is a primary care doctor in a small town, and taught me to “read” chest x-rays when I was about 4. I think along the way I considered other careers, but medicine has always been a part of my life.
How did you choose your specialty?
I can’t remember! I have always loved primary care and the idea of developing relationships with patients over time. I like being able to do a little bit of everything: seeing patients in the hospital, seeing patients in clinic, going to the nursing home, and spending time teaching. The time I spent on our geriatric inpatient service as an intern, working with wonderful clinicians and educators like Dr. Greganti, Dr. Bynum, and Dr. Busby-Whitehead really made clear to me that I could find the kind of career I hoped for in Geriatrics.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
The relationships I have developed with my patients and their families. I love getting the opportunity to hear about their lives from one visit to the next.
What are some of the new developments in your field of specialty?
I think one of the biggest developments in the past few years is the recognition in national newpapers as well as in books like “Being Mortal” that geriatricians play a very important role in the care of older adults with complex medical problems, and that geriatricians are also in very short supply. I hope that this recognition and increased emphasis on geriatrics in undergraduate medical education will make more medical students interested in pursuing geriatric fellowships.
Where are you from?
I’m from Luray, Virginia, a small town in the Shenandoah Valley.
Is there a particular achievement (professional or personal) that has been most gratifying to you?
Our division has just moved the geriatric inpatient service to UNC Hillsborough. This has allowed us to create an innovative interprofessional geriatric team that cares for our hospitalized older adults. The service we have created is providing high-quality, patient centered care, and we are continuing to work together to think of new ways to provide better care and improve our patients’ experiences. It has been very rewarding to be part of this team.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
One of my mentors in medical school told me I should always ask patients about their pets and their golf handicaps. I don’t play golf, so I haven’t followed that advice, but I do always ask my patients about their pets. People love talking about their pets! It’s always been a way for me to get to know them better.
If you weren’t a physician, what would you like to be doing?
I would be teaching fourth grade I think, although I’ve always said my back-up plan was to run a Christmas tree farm—maybe someday!
What hobbies do you enjoy?
I enjoy cooking and baking—I make delicious chocolate chip cookies.