Louisville Medicine Volume 69, Issue 9 - Page 32

AUTHOR Kathryn Vance

Every

DR . WHO

DR . WHO

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT DR . AMANDA HETTINGER

AUTHOR Kathryn Vance

“ person I meet has a different story .”

From an early start in psychology to today ’ s career in psychiatry , Dr . Amanda Hettinger has always cared for people and their stories . Her parents were teachers originally from Kentucky and after marrying at a young age , they “ drove north until they found a school system that would hire them both .” She and her younger brother grew up in southern Indiana in North Vernon , about an hour north of Louisville , and enjoyed a traditional small-town upbringing . Their neighbor was the local primary care doctor and Dr . Hettinger worked in his office doing charting all through high school .
Her paternal grandfather wanted to be a doctor all his life , but the stars didn ’ t align . On her mother ’ s side , both grandparents were pharmacists , with her grandmother being one of the first women in Kentucky to graduate from pharmacy school . They owned a small pharmacy in Shelbyville for about 25 years while they raised 10 children . One of those children was Dr . Hettinger ’ s Uncle David , a psychiatrist who would later play a part in shaping her future . While medicine was somewhat in the background , at the forefront of everyone ’ s career and life was a passion for service and serving others .
After high school , Dr . Hettinger attended Transylvania University , a private liberal arts college in Lexington , Kentucky . After excelling throughout high school , she decided she would do pre-med and planned to go into primary care . As her time in college progressed and her interest in the liberal arts classes surpassed those of science classes , she shifted course and chose to major in psychology , with one caveat from her parents . “ Part of the compromise with my parents was that I would continue to do my pre-med classes . They told me not to close doors and to keep doing those classes .”
Now full steam ahead with psychology , she did an externship in her junior year at a program with teenagers . Each afternoon , she worked in an outpatient program for teens dealing with mental illness and substance use disorders . Coupled with encouragement from her Uncle David to go to medical school , it was in this opportunity that she realized her true passion would lie in psychiatry , not psychology . After finishing her undergraduate degree , she went on to medical school at the University of Louisville .
“ I was actually considered out of state at UofL , but all my family is here and I was at Transylvania for four years so Kentucky felt like home to me . Attending UofL felt more like my hometown school than something actually in my home state of Indiana .”
During rotations , she found interest in other specialties ( like surgery , much to her surprise ) but always found herself coming back to psychiatry . “ I ’ m fascinated by people and there was a curiosity with that . I was drawn to it because I very much enjoyed psychotherapy ,” she said . “ That pulled in my undergraduate work and what I found intellectually stimulating .”
During her fourth year of medical school , she scoured different programs trying to decide where she would continue her education and training . Staying with family and friends across the country was exhilarating and allowed her to see so many places , but ultimately , she knew that she wanted to stay where her heart was .
“ In psychiatry , we talk about how so much of residency is a journey . For me to feel stable and supported and to be able to feel fully present for that journey , I knew I would be better served to be close to home . I was really grateful that the program at UofL was really excellent and offered great experience that I didn ’ t have to leave home for .”
To her delight , she matched at UofL for the four-year residency program in general adult psychiatry , which she completed in 2007 . When she finished residency , she jumped into what she calls her
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