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New residents are ready to get started

On March 18, five first-year residents matched with the UNMC Department of Psychiatry. The new interns bring the number of psychiatry residents to 15. The new residents will arrive in June and start rotations in July.

George Blankenau, MD; Jacob Givens, MD; and Harrison Greene, MD, matched after graduating from the UNMC College of Medicine. Casey Reihe, MD, will join the department after graduating from the University of South Dakota. Mukanya Tchombela, DO, comes to Omaha after graduating from Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Dr. Greene decided to enter the psychiatry field while an undergraduate at the University of Kansas.

Harrison Greene, MD

“I did not always know that I wanted to pursue psychiatry as my career. In fact, up until the tail end of my M3 year I had always thought that I wanted to pursue surgery. However, when reflecting upon my journey over the previous 10 plus years, I saw that my experiences had been leading me towards psychiatry,” Dr. Greene said. “I spent seven years in the restaurant industry, an industry that has an unfortunately high prevalence of substance use disorders and other mental illness. These years increased my awareness of mental health and created a personal connection, as I had many friends and co-workers who struggled with their mental health.”

Dr. Greene grew up in Omaha, so he was thrilled to match with UNMC.

“I’m excited to be staying here to continue my training. I had fantastic experiences with the psychiatry faculty and residents as a medical student, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work alongside them as a resident,” Dr. Green said. “Furthermore, Omaha is a great city to live in and I’ll appreciate staying close to family and friends.”  

Jacob Givens, MD

Dr. Givens was also born and raised in Omaha, and he can’t wait to be a resident in his hometown.

“I cannot wait to give back to a community that has given me so much during my educational journey in medical school and now residency,” he said.

Dr. Givens choose psychiatry after doing a rotation in Fremont, Nebraska.

“Getting the opportunity to work in a community mental health clinic really was a rewarding experience,” Dr. Givens said. “As my third-year rotations went on, I found myself gravitating toward patients with psychiatric diagnoses on other services, often finding those patient encounters more rewarding and fulfilling. On top of all of that, the public health aspect of psychiatry really interests me, and I feel my future advocacy work, especially surrounding LGBTQIA+ mental health, would be achievable in psychiatry.”

Dr. Blankenau’s interest in psychiatry started when he was shadowing psychiatrists with the Psychiatry Department’s Sharing Clinic.

George Blankenau, MD

“The first patient had severe anxiety which had kept them from obtaining a driver’s license, finding a job, and completing their GED. After interviewing the patient and presenting them, the psychiatrist and I returned to see the patient together. Within five minutes of talking, the patient opened up to the psychiatrist and informed them of a history of trauma that was very relevant to their treatment, and which I had missed. I was impressed by how the psychiatrist’s ability to build trust with the patient had improved their care, and I knew that I wanted to learn that skill,” Dr. Blankenau said.

Dr. Blankenau also said he’s thrilled to keep working alongside fellow UNMC graduates Drs. Givens and Greene.

“With the increase in virtual learning due to Covid-19, I missed the opportunity to get to know many of my classmates as well as I would like. Over the last month, I have had more chances to talk with Harrison and Jake. They both seem to be as excited to begin residency as I am, and I think our personalities are well suited to make us a good team,” he said.   

Mukanya Tchombela, DO

Dr. Tchombela said his interest in psychiatry started when he was a child in Congo. 

“I was always interested in understanding human behavior and in trying to figure out why people do the things they do,” he said. “As a child, I would spend countless hours alone in my head trying to process my own feelings, and I would always feel relieved after figuring out what was causing my distress. Overall, I have always been interested in learning about human behavior, and I hope someday I would gain the tools to help modify it to improve quality of life both on an individual and societal level.”

This summer, Dr. Tchombela will move to Omaha. He said he enjoyed the city when he visited last year.

“I like Omaha a lot. I enjoyed the quietness of the city when compared to where I am currently living in Denver,” he said. “I also loved the food. Every food we tried was delicious. Finally, I am excited about the people that I am going to train with. Everyone seems friendly.”

Casey Reihe, MD

Dr. Reihe was excited to match with a program near his family, which is located throughout South Dakota.

“My wife and I are excited to move to Omaha,” he said. “We can’t wait to try all of the amazing food in Omaha, watch the College World Series, and explore other great locations in Omaha.”

Dr. Reihe said during medical school he realized psychiatry was a natural fit.

“I chose to pursue psychiatry because, among all other specialties, I feel that psychiatry has the most far-reaching implications in medicine. Mental health simply affects all aspects of our lives, medically or otherwise. I have also daydreamed about how people think and what factors contribute to certain behaviors since before college. Meeting individuals who are struggling with mental crises genuinely excites me,” he said.

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