Sue Maixner, MD grew up as the daughter of older parents, with much older grandparents- all four grandparents living within 3 city blocks. As she grew up, she witnessed the interplay of medical events, mobility changes, impacts of hearing and vision loss, life transitions, cognitive changes, financial limitations, and family caregiving. Most importantly, though, was recognizing resilience in her grandparents and parents through their life stories . These experiences ultimately led to a curiosity and passion for geriatric psychiatry- the most challenging field of psychiatry with medical, neurological, cognitive complexity, best provided interdisciplinary patient and family centered care settings.
Dr. Maixner earned her M.D. from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where she developed an interest in Geriatric Psychiatry At the University of Michigan, she completed her general psychiatry residency and geriatric psychiatry fellowship. She has been on faculty since 1999, and is a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Program Director for the Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship, and Geriatric Psychiatry Program Director at the University of Michigan. Through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, she is board certified in general psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry. As Dr. Maixner’s career has progressed, she cultivated an interest in Hospice and Palliative Medicine (HPM), and also holds this board certification. She is active in the Hospice and Palliative Medicine fellowship, and in the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center’s Rinne Lewy Body Dementia Initiative.
Dr. Maixner challenges trainees to identify “The “HOOK” in all their patients, The “HOOK” summarizes the unique characteristics of a person and their story: the strengths, challenges, resiliency and vulnerability. This combats the reductionist tendency in medicine to identify a patient only by their age and diagnosis. “The HOOK” was coined in 2012 encouraging identification of resiliency and healthy aging in the bio-psycho- social formulation, recognition that early life events are vital to understanding and treating later life problems, and combats the stigma of aging by identifying a patient beyond the label of “retired”.
Dr. Maixner’s passion for geriatric psychiatry education extends beyond the clinic. She has a national presence in geriatric psychiatry education. She is a past co-chair of the Geriatric Psychiatry Subspecialty Caucus for the American Association of Directors of Psychiatry Residency Training (AADPRT), and has been a member of the AAGP teaching and training committee for over a decade. In 2014, she was one of five geriatric psychiatrists in the country invited by the ACGME and ABPN to develop the Geriatric Psychiatry Milestones for geriatric psychiatry fellowships. She’s a recipient of the APA’s the Nancy C.A. Roeske Medical Student Teaching Award.