Getting to the Root of Who People Are

Meredith Weiss, MD, Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Associate Fellowship Training Director
Meredith Weiss, MD, Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Associate Fellowship Training Director

Dr. Meredith Weiss Ensures the Health and Well-Being of Mothers and Their Children

Meredith Weiss ’03S, ’09E works as an infant/child/adolescent psychiatrist and is the Associate Fellowship Training Director at The Motherhood Center of New York, located at 205 Lexington Avenue, just a stone’s throw away from the Israel Henry Beren Campus where she spent her undergraduate years. Her work includes treating pregnant and postpartum women with depression, anxiety and other psychiatric illnesses, working closely with the mothers and their babies. She remembers her time at Stern as a “warm and supportive environment.”

She came from Miami Beach, Florida to Stern College for Women in 1999. Though born in Cleveland, Ohio, she only lived there for a year while her father, Thomas Weiss ’71YC, completed his Retina/Vitreous Surgical Fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. The family then moved to Miami Beach, where Thomas, a son of Holocaust survivors, had grown up. Her mother, Rhonda, who hailed from Far Rockaway, New York, worked first as a speech therapist, then became the office manager for her husband’s practice.

“Taking care of people,” Weiss recalled, “was very much a part of my growing up. We had people coming to the house for eye care at all hours, and my father was always available to people.” To balance the flow of people into and out of house, the family often went fishing. “It was somewhat meditative, sitting out on the water—not much happens until you get a fish on the line.”

Weiss attended Hebrew Academy of Greater Miami from preschool to high school. “I had about 40 people in my class. I knew all the teachers, and all the teachers knew me. That closeness was exactly the kind of thing I found when I came to Stern College.”

At Stern, where she studied biochemistry and English literature, Weiss enjoyed the environment of formal Judaic studies taught by a range of teachers mixed with a friendly and supportive student body. “The energy at Stern was different,” she noted. “There was more of a drive to focus on a community view and less on individual self-advancement.”

After she graduated, she had planned to go to medical school, but decided to take a small detour to see if teaching might be something she’d like to pursue. While enrolled in a master’s program at Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, she also taught 8th graders in both private and public school settings. “Teaching was one of the hardest things I ever did,” Weiss recalled, “definitely much harder than medical school! It was so exhausting at so many levels.”

She decided that both teaching and the master’s program were not the directions she needed to take and continued with her original intention to attend medical school, enrolling in YU-affiliated Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

As she worked through her various rotations in her third year of medical school, Weiss found herself drawn to the stories that people told of their suffering, much of which, she noticed, was emotionally related. Out of a drive to understand the roots of people’s behaviors, she became interested in psychiatry.  During her psychiatric residency, she observed that many of the issues with which people struggled began in childhood, and, at times, at the earliest stages of life. This idea led her to a deep interest in the perinatal period.

Following the residency, Weiss completed a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at NewYork Presbyterian Hospital and the Sackler Infant Psychiatry Fellowship at Weill Cornell Medicine, both in New York City.

“I find psychiatry very emotionally gratifying,” she observed. “It can help people change their lives for the better by helping them see themselves and the world in a different frame of mind.”

Weiss has also found working in The Motherhood Center highly gratifying. The Center offers support to the most vulnerable people—mothers and their children—at the most vulnerable time of their lives. A day program, counseling, classes and support groups are all designed to help mothers and their children become strong and resilient. The Center, through events such as its seminars, also ensures that its professionals working in this field do so armed with the best knowledge and the greatest empathy. It assures every visitor to its website, “You are not alone.”

In addition to her full-time work at The Motherhood Center, Weiss also has an active family life. Her husband, Joseph Pick, is a research scientist doing postdoctoral work in neuroscience at New York University. Together, they are raising a family of twins who are 3 and 1/2 years old and a 10-month old. She is also a published author, has presented at national medical conferences and received training and teaching awards.

“Working with mothers and infants,” she noted, “is a sublime way of not only changing individuals but changing everyone else to whom those individuals are connected. For me, this is world-changing work.”