Tag Archives: Life

Bits and pieces of my personal life.

Gay doctor? – Why I’m out, loud and proud

IMG_1751

To this day I do not know a single LGBT person from my youth. I was not privileged to have understanding parents nor to have role models with whom I could connect.

Many youth today find themselves in a similar position. Growing up gay, bi or trans* is never easy and each generation has their own struggles. However no generation has felt the wrath of homophobes quite like the youth of today. There are finally words to describe who we are and worldwide communities to which we can belong but these beacons of light also gaze upon and identify kids to themselves and their peers. All too often LGBT kids experience rejection, isolation, discrimination, harassment and physical violence. And this results in low self-esteem, risky or self-destructive behaviors, homelessness and suicide.

While I cannot reach out to those of my community who are suffering and alone, I am yet another adult who is proud to say that I’m here and queer and it does get better.

aladdin__bee_yourself_by_janetateher-d5lny3r

  • The Trevor Project (http://www.thetrevorproject.orgis a 24 hour help line that is available to anyone who needs a listening ear.
    • 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386)
  • It Gets Better Project (http://www.itgetsbetter.orgis an inspiring collection of 1,000s of user-created videos from around the world that was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years.
  • Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (http://www.pflag.org) provides support and resources for families and friends of LGBT people.

New favorite app: Wake-up

wakeup

I have Seasonal Affective Disorder which basically means that my mood and energy are significantly affected by the amount of sunlight I receive. I tend to want to go to bed when the sun sets and to get up when it rises. If there are prolonged periods of overcast skies then I become sluggish and I just want to hibernate. Clearly this is not helpful in trying to maintain a modern lifestyle and it is one of the major reasons why I moved away from Seattle. Getting up on time during the winter months has always been a difficulty; the alarm clock sounds, but it’s pitch black and cold so I end up hitting snooze way too many times.

Finally there is a solution: the Wake-up app by Pico-Brothers available for iPhone and iPad (It works best for me on iPad). Basically I put my iPad against the wall and set the alarm. When the time approaches for me to get up the screen gets brighter and brighter. There is also a sound function which I have set to “birds”. Now I don’t have trouble getting up and I can get to the gym before work, a previously unobtainable dream. This app is now a part of my essential apps collection.

wakeup2

My hunt is over

i-love-nyIt’s official, my hunt is over… I have joined a small, single-specialty OB/GYN group in White Plains, NY and will starting in July of this year!

My journey to this trailhead has been long and arduous. I could not have made it without the amazing support of my family and friends. I would especially like to thank my husband, Patrick, for his love and encouragement. I truly could not have navigated this climb without his support. I thank our children for putting up with our limitations theses many long years and for the joy and happiness they bring to our lives. To Dr David and Monk David, thank you for providing me with foundation when my entire world had burned to ash. You will always have a central place in my heart. Mom, Dad, thank you! In spite of our many differences throughout the years you were willing to extend that out-stretched-hand when I needed it most — I would not have been able to scale the massive financial boulders in my path without your generosity. For this I will be forever grateful. Finally, to my wise faculty advisors — Dr Thorp, Dr Terrell and Dr Rauk — you are my mentors, advocates and role models. THANK YOU.

New York, here I come!

Music to my ears

ghirardelli-chocolateToday was the first day someone asked me, “Have you lost weight?” I was shocked, ecstatic and gave her a big hug. I have now lost 20 pounds and am no longer obese (barely, still quite overweight), but how wonderful it is when someone notices! I am very pleased with the MyFitnessPal program I’ve been using. I feel like I have an allowance of 1500 Calories and I can spend them any way I want. I had a beer with dinner and no biggie! I’m still within my budget. MyFitnessPal simply functions like a checkbook where I get a daily allowance; it helps me keep track of how many Calories I have consumed and how many I have left for the day. And if I decide to splurge — like the weekend my partner had his birthday — a couple days may be “in the red” but by watching the rest of the week carefully I can still come in under-budget. I love the flexibility and I feel like it is teaching me the skills I need to make a true “lifestyle” change… it’s not just losing weight, it’s knowing how to eat for the rest of your life so that you can keep it off. Real life, real food, real change.

Some things I have discovered: Coffee with cream and Splenda makes a great mid-morning snack. It curbs my hunger and only has 25 Calories. One of my favorite comfort foods is cereal. You may think it’s healthy but holy Calories! Eating a real serving size (not the 3/4 cup suggestion) has nearly the same amount of Calories as a greasy hamburger! And the amount of comfort it gives me is not worth the Calories it costs. A can of regular pop has about 150 Calories while a bottle of beer has only 170. Hello?! Gimme the beer! Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares have less than 100 Calories each. They are very rich and satisfy my sweet-tooth without eating up too much of my budget. And aside from the Splenda, note that everything I’ve mentioned is NOT diet food. Yet I am still losing weight… My way!

Physician, heal thyself (part 2)

high-fructose-corn-syrupThis is a continuation of my thread Physician, heal thyselfCheck it out: I’ve lost 16 lbs! I only need to lose 3 more pounds to no longer be obese! I am very happy about this though I still have a long way to go before I reach my goal. As I mentioned previously, what I love about the myfitnesspal app is that I can eat wherever and whatever I want — no diet food required. In fact, the only diet product I consume is diet pop for 2 reasons: 1. I don’t want the added Calories and 2. Fructose has multiple negative health ramifications compared to other sugars.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the traditional sweetener in most carbonated beverages and many other U.S. products thanks in large part to governmental subsidies to corn farmers. Because of these subsidies, HFCS is much cheaper to produce than sucrose, a compound of fructose and glucose commonly known as table sugar, and so the food industry uses it to cut financial costs. But as mentioned, this benefit in production costs is plagued by increased physical costs to the consumer.

In his article, Dietary Fructose and Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes, Dr John P Bantle reports that there is mounting evidence that fructose does not inhibit appetite as effectively as other sugars and thus may contribute to the increasing prevalence of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome. It has also been associated with increased risk of gout and kidney stones. He reassures however that “the fructose that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables provides only a modest amount of dietary fructose and should not be of concern.”

So in summary, all simple sugars like those mentioned above are bad for dieting. However, refined fructose should definitely be avoided for multiple health reasons.

Physician, heal thyself

weight

It’s been quite a while since I posted last, but today it feels like the right thing to do. I’m supposed to be working on a presentation I’m giving on the 11th , but I’m going to take a little break.

So one of my ongoing personal struggles has been my weight. I have struggled with it my entire life and total understand why losing weight is not as easy as skinny people make it sound.

The best shape I was ever in was during my years as a competitive gymnast in junior and senior high school. Though I was quite fit by general standards I was always embarrassed about the stubborn layer of belly fat that I could never lose to show off my ripped abs. After that I went to college and my physique went downhill.

When I finally got fed up with the extra weight I started working out again and trying to eat right. Yet after 2 years of trying I was still above my goal weight. So I joined LA Weight Loss and the weight melted off. Check out how skinny I got in the photo from 2005! After enough people pestered me that I was getting too skinny I stopped the diet and within 6-12 months was heavier than I had been before. I have contemplated doing the LA diet again numerous times but I honestly hated it — I like REAL food, sorry! — so I stayed heavy.

Well, my weight continued to creep up until I was barely able to fit into my 36 inch pants and I could not wait to take them off when I got home from work because they were so uncomfortable. I was too proud to go up another pant size. Check out the muffin top hanging over my pants just a couple months ago. Vanity aside, I am soon to have my 40th birthday and with my family history of diabetes I knew that I needed to make some major changes.

Where to begin?

Obesity in adults is defined as a having a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30. The BMI is a number calculated from your height and weight alone; it does not take into consideration gender, ethnicity, bone density or lean muscle mass. In spite of these limitations the BMI remains the most utilized marker of overall body composition and a good tool to see where you are. You can find out your own BMI using the calculator from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

BMI between
18.5-25 is normal weight
25-30 is overweight
30-40 is obesity
30-35 is class 1 obesity
35-40 is class 2 obesity
40 or more is class 3 obesity
40-50 is morbid obesity
50 or more is super morbid obesity

As I alluded to above, obesity is not just about looks. Rarely a day goes by in clinic that I’m not counseling at least one patient to lose some weight. Studies have shown that the majority of overweight women with irregular menstrual cycles only have to lose 5% of their current body weight to get regular periods again. And that’s a big deal for women who want to become pregnant. Infertility aside, obesity is associated with many medical conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

Though diet books and spokespeople abound and the diet industry rakes in approximately $35 billion a year from U.S. citizens, Americans are on average getting fatter and fatter. According to the CDC over 1/3 of us are obese — not just overweight. My current BMI is 31.7 and places me in this category; thus I also have a higher risk for all of the conditions mentioned above.

So why don’t all us fat people just lose weight? It is certainly not for a lack of trying. You can ask any person with extra pounds and the vast majority of us will tell you that we have tried numerous times to lose weight. In fact, while some of us are successful at losing some weight for a period of time (note my 2005 pic above) 80-90% of dieters fail in our attempts to keep the weight off permanently (my 2012 pic). It is very hard to stick to a special/fad diet to lose weight to begin with and damn near impossible to stay on that diet indefinitely to keep it off.

The easiest way to lose weight and to keep it off for good is to make healthy eating choices and to watch how much you are eating. Several free eating guides are available from the USDA , the CDC and the FDA. But what it all boils down to is Calories and that input equals output.

What is a Calorie?

It is a measure of the heat produced by the combustion of food products. In general, 1 gram of protein or 1 gram of carbohydrate has 4 Calories of energy and 1 gram of fat has 9 Calories. The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 2000 Calories. Some of us need less, others more. Though we may not think of them as such, people with a low metabolism are like cars with high fuel efficiency. A little fuel goes a long way. People with high metabolism are like gas guzzling trucks; they need lots and lots of fuel throughout the day.

This analogy breaks down when we talk about overeating. If you try to put too much gas into a car the tank will simply overflow. The body of a person who eats too much will convert all those extra Calories into fat. Our bodies make fat to have reserve for when food is not available.

In modern society, low quality foods with high Calories have become remarkably less expensive than their high quality low Calorie counterparts. For example, ramen noodles cost less than $1 per package but have 400 Calories each. On the other hand apples cost $1 to $3 per pound but generally have less than 100 Calories each. So, if you are financially challenged then you are more likely to be fat.

We can try to increase our Caloric needs (decrease our fuel efficiency) through exercise, but exercise can be difficult if you are working long hours and cannot afford a gym membership — running down the road is generally an option only for people who are already in shape and accustomed to inclement weather. Again the cards are stacked against those with less means or with physical limitations.

I mention socioeconomics and other limitations because it is important for people to consider them. Just like the old saying, “Walk a mile in my shoes”.

Now before I continue rambling on, please know that I am speaking for myself and have not been paid nor asked to endorse the product I am about to discuss.

So, knowing that I am “blessed” with remarkable “fuel efficiency” and have difficultly finding time to exercise I knew that I needed to reduce my Calories. And if I was going to make a permanent lifestyle change that I would have to do it with the foods I am already eating, not start another fad diet.

For anyone who has tried it, keeping a food diary and counting Calories is a pain in the ass. It is tedious, time consuming and requires a decent amount of math skills. I had previously bought a Calorie counter pocket book but even that was painful for me — what do I do when I can’t find the food that I’m eating? There had to be another way.

MyFitnessPal

I was looking for a free Calorie counter app on my iphone when I discovered “MyFitnessPal”. If you don’t have a iphone they also have a website. What I love about this app is that it is so easy to use. I don’t have to eat special food and I can almost always find the food I’m eating in its database. I recently ate a Wendy’s Asiago Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich WITH the dressing (570 Calories) and am still losing weight.

Given my gender and activity level, the app tells me that I am supposed to eat 1610 Calories daily if I want to loose 2 pounds per week. If I increase my activity or want to eat more, I simply change the settings and the app recalculates how many Calories I should eat.

Too lazy to look things up? The barcode reader makes it super easy to simply scan the packaging of whatever I’m eating and presto, all the nutrient info is at my fingertips.

What if I eat more or less than the serving size suggestion, like when I eat 3 servings or only 2/3 of a serving? No biggy, the app allows me to make this adjustment and does the math for me.

I must confess that I am still not working out as much as I’d like to be… Working 14-30 hour days in residency just about kills me and I don’t have it in me to do much more than eat, and sit on the couch with my husband for an hour or 2 before going to bed. But if I were, the app has the ability to not only record exercise activities but also to on the spot increase my Calorie budget for the day with the Calories I burn.

I started dieting after Thanksgiving because I seriously ate like a pig and felt like a beached whale for 2 days afterward. I was not going to wait until New Years Eve this year to make my annual resolution. Since then, I have been losing weight on a weekly basis eating exactly what I want, just less than I would have eaten before. I occasionally do feel a little more hungry than I like but often a small healthy snack will tide me over until my next meal. And now that I’m in the groove it is getting easier and easier to stick to the plan. I’ve already lost over 10 pounds! Not that I can see it yet — I still have that annoying muffin top — but my pants are starting to feel looser and that makes me happy.

I was going to do this diet thing all by myself but after thinking more about it I decided that I should share my journey with you. Maybe if you see this physician heal himself, it will inspire you on your own journey. Best wishes to all of you and happy holidays. I’m going to go make myself something to eat!

Related posts

LGBT Travel Destinations Uncovered

For LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) tourists, destinations which are rife with like-minded, tolerant and fun people like themselves are highly desirable. There is an ever-increasing amount of destinations that specifically cater for the LGBT component of the tourist demographic, and this article aims to uncover and describe some of the best locations around for those looking for a thriving LGBT community to engage with on holiday.

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires has become one of the most exhilarating and renowned gay destinations in South America. Its rapid rise as a prominent gay-friendly city was consolidated in 2004 when the windy city became the first city in Latin America to legalize civil unions. In 2010, the city’s progressive values extended to granting gay couples full rights regarding gay marriage and adoption. This makes it perfect for gay couples looking to enjoy a honeymoon or even get hitched abroad. The cosmopolitan city also boasts a wide range of attractions and amenities that specifically cater to and aim at a heavily commercialised and celebrated LGBT community. With a host of gay bars and clubs to choose from, nightlife for the LGBT constituent of the tourist cohort is electrifying and vibrant.

Gran Canaria

Situated amongst the sun-kissed cluster of Spanish Canary Islands located on the west coast of Africa, Gran Canaria is another utopian haven for LGBT tourists. With a plethora of gay beaches, Gran Canaria’s golden coastline openly welcomes all to its crystal clear, water-lapped shores. When the glorious Gran Canaria sun sets on the beaches, the fun continues long into the night, as there is a vast array of gay and lesbian bars and clubs to visit, as well as a range of decadent restaurants offering fine Spanish cuisine. The popular Yumbo Centre is an exhilarating, atmospheric complex rife with numerous gay bars, clubs and restaurants. Meanwhile, for those seeking a calmer, more culturally enriching holiday experience, Gran Canaria is home to a range of picturesque pine forests and quaint villages to visit. The island’s awe-inspiring landscape also boasts jaw-dropping mountains to admire and hike, and stunning lakes to visit.

The astounding landscape of Gran Canaria is a sight to behold.

Sitges

Located just south of the majestic Barcelona, Sitges is a more serene and relaxed option for LGBT tourists looking for a laidback, calm holidaying experience. With a pedestrian town centre, visitors can escape the noisy hustle bustle of traffic they may suffer to endure at home, and saunter around the town at leisure. It also hosts an annual ‘Gay Pride Sitges’, which promises plenty of entertainment, live acts, pool parties and the renowned ‘pride parade’, which attracts thousands of visitors-last year over 60 thousand revellers were in attendance.

Sitges boasts a serene and lavish atmosphere amid a stunning natural landscape.

Choose a cruise

For the more intrepid tourist, cruises offer an unparalleled opportunity to experience a broad array of cultures and countries in one expansive trip. Consult online cruise reviews for those seeking reliable advice on which cruises offer the most exhilarating experiences. RSVP offers a rare all-gay Mediterranean cruise on which 2100 LGBT guests enjoy exotic excursions across Mediterranean countries, including the aforementioned Sitges, the renowned Casablanca, Ibiza and Valencia, with indulgent and luxurious voyages at sea forming welcome breaks between each new venture. Indeed, there are enough entertainment amenities, poolside activities and events taking place onboard to make visitors feel reluctant to ever want to leave the ship!

Ship-dwellers will marvel at the luxury to be enjoyed onboard a quality cruise.

The Big Apple

New York is another city universally renowned for its thriving LGBT community. Recently becoming the 6th US state to legalize gay marriage, it is ideal for couples seeking to get married in a vibrant and exciting foreign location. With such a vast array of fascinating attractions and lively entertainment venues to visit, the city famous for being one that never sleeps will leave visitors up all night trying to enjoy every experience the city has to offer. Home to the gargantuan Empire State Building, visitors can scale the tower’s heady heights to gain a glorious view of one of the most awe-inspiringly vast metropolises in the world. Also boasting the iconic Statue of Liberty, New York offers a culturally enriching and humbling experience for its visitors, who for the duration of their holiday will appreciate the unmatched joys of the American Dream.

Visitors of New York will wonder at the rich history of the renowned city.

Lisa Williams is a freelance travel writer from England who specialises in international travel, cruises and mostly writes with a younger audience in mind. Most of her travel experience came in her twenties when she spent several years in Asia.

Young women are in danger

I have begun the first rotation of my last year of residency: Pediatric and adolescent gynecology with reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Today when I was reading I came across some sobering statistics regarding young women (see below). As it is Father’s Day, I would like to encourage all parents to take the time to talk with your children as they honor you. Talk to your kids about dangerous activities their peers are definitely participating in. Give them encouragement to swim against the powerful current of peer pressure. Educate them on what to do when various situations arise. Give them information that they can use personally as well as to share with their peers who choose to engage in risky behaviors. Though both of my kids are steadfast in their personal decisions to “wait till marriage” before having sex, they have both been educated all about condoms and birth control and know where to go for more information should they or their peers require it. There are a lot of excellent resources online, links to several of them follow below. Don’t ignore the elephant in the room! Be the “Best Dad in the World” and protect your daughters (and sons) by arming them with education!


Young women, grades 9-12 (2009 CDC data)

Physical danger
–  83% rarely wear bicycle helmets
–  23% have been in a physical fight in the past year
–  8% attempted suicide in the past year
–  8% rarely wear seat-belts

Substance use
–  43% drank alcohol in the post 30 days
–  34% have used marijuana
–  19% currently smoke cigarettes

Weight
–  59% are actively trying to lose weight
–  33% think they are overweight
–  24% are actually overweight
–  15% have gone 24+ hours without eating to try to lose weight
–  6% have taken diet substances without doctor supervision
–  5% have intentionally vomited or taken laxatives to lose weight

Activity
–  32% watch at least 3 hours of TV every school day
–  30% do not ever participate in physical activity lasting longer than an hour

Sexual activity among young women aged 15-17 years (2006-2008 CDC data)

–  27% have had vaginal intercourse with a male partner
–  21.5% did not use contraception the first time they had intercourse
–  13.1% still do not use contraception though they continue to be sexually active

–  In 2006 there were

–  349,145 new infections with chlamydia
–  246,250 reported pregnancies
–  59,648 new infections with gonorrhea
–  28,388 emergency room visits for sexual assault
–  344 new infections with syphilis
–  185 new infections with HIV/AIDS

Death per 100,000 women aged 15-19 years (2006 CDC data)

–  36.8 all causes
–  18.9 accidents
–  2.9 murder
–  2.8 suicide
–  2.5 cancer


Youth resources

The Birds & Bees Project provides comprehensive reproductive health information to youth and adults. The message in all materials is positive, respectful, developmentally appropriate, and aims to compliment the education and values that people receive from their families and communities.

Born This Way Foundation is building a braver, kinder world that celebrates individuality and empowers young people.

Center for Young Women’s Health provides education, clinical care, research, and health care advocacy for teen girls and young women.

girlshealth.gov was created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH) to help girls (ages 10 to 16) learn about health, growing up, and issues they may face.

Girls Incorporated inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold through a network of local organizations in the United States and Canada.

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students.

I wanna know! offers information on sexual health for for teens and young adults. This is where you will find the facts, the support, and the resources to answer your questions, find referrals, and get access to in-depth information about sexual health, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), healthy relationships, and more.

It Gets Better Project is an inspiring collection of over 10,000 user-created videos from around the world that was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Planned Parenthood: Info for teens provides information about STD testing, pregnancy tests, sexual orientation and more. You can even chat live with a trained counselor.

The Trevor Project at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386) is a 24 hour help line that is available to anyone who needs a listening ear.

I’m on the hunt

On 6/11/12 I officially enter my LAST year of residency and am finally starting to see the light of a very long and arduous tunnel. My senior resident colleagues and I are just now starting to be inundated with emails and phone calls from recruiters and practice representatives from across the nation. As the Baby Boomers move into retirement, and along with them the physicians of the same generation, the demand for new recruits continues to grow. As is true of real estate, for many of us it’s all about location, location, location! Positions in coveted downtown city locations are never short of applicants but beyond the cityscape and adjacent suburbia lies an ever expanding need for medical professionals.

The Washington Post recently posted the above image generated with esri software that geographically identifies areas of increasing medical need. Areas that are dark orange are already in great need of medical providers and they are likely to continue to grow in dimension.

Having grown up in a suburb of Seattle (Kent, WA), I don’t think I would have given rural medicine any consideration prior to medical school which I completed at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, OR. OHSU prides itself in fostering a love of primary care among its students as well as an appreciation for rural medicine. During my time there I completed 4 rural rotations in primary care, family medicine, neurology and surgery lasting approximately 8 weeks each.

I was required to complete a community project in my primary care rotation in Coos Bay, OR. I elected to research the issue of rural physician shortage in terms of physician recruitment and retention. I had the opportunity to interview local recruiters as well as rural physicians of multiple specialties. I also conducted a survey of the 3rd and 4th year medical students regarding their experiences with and interest in rural medicine. I then compiled this data into a written manuscript: Recruiting and Retaining Physicians in Coos Bay: Assessment of Medical Student Interest in Rural Medicine and Rural Physician Perspectives on Their Practice. I later presented this data at the 25th Annual Oregon Rural Health Conference. My presentation can be found here.

I discovered that there are a lot of benefits to working rural areas including making a difference for an underserved population, becoming part of a “close-knit” community and having a larger scope of practice. Fringe benefits include outdoor activities, simpler lifestyle, lower cost of living and potential student loan repayment.

Some of the more challenging aspects of working in a rural area are cultural and political differences. It seems that the more diverse and populated communities are, the more liberal and tolerant they are as well. Rural America is more homogenous in character and conservative in opinion. White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) physicians tend to find a home away from home more easily, especially when they share the same values as the communities they enter. Those of us who are different often feel like outsiders who are simply extended cordial hospitality with an arms-length handshake. The vast difference between city and rural amenities can also contribute to culture shock, homesickness and isolation.

My partner and I are willing to consider rural locations among our opportunities. Both of us have moved extensively, Patrick more than I, and we enjoy the adventure of new experiences and making new friends. The issues I foresee being problematic pertain to the differences I alluded to: I am a partnered gay father in addition to being an OB/GYN resident physician; my personal life cannot be separated from my professional life. Patrick and I have been committed to each other for the past 10 years. I have been a father even longer. I feel that it is a travesty that we live in the 21st century yet continue to be treated as a second class citizens. Because our relationship is not recognized in the majority of States we suffer mentally and financially. Although more and more insurance companies are choosing to include same-sex partners, many do not. I have worked too long and too hard to accept employment with a group that will not allow me to insure my family.

Another issue is abortion. The Republican-lead War on Women is in full force and a record number of anti-choice ballots continue to make their way through state and federal legislatures. We are rapidly returning to the pre-Roe Vs. Wade era. Some sobering statistics are the following:

  • Approximately 1/3 of women require an abortion procedure over their lifetime.
  • Over 90% of OB/GYNs have had patients request abortion services.
  • ONLY 14% of OB/GYN providers provide them.

While this may be great news for the anti-choice audience, women AND children are already suffering much and may be soon forced to suffer more. The U.S. foster care system is overflowing with abused, neglected and unwanted children. Shall we increase their numbers? Women have many deeply personal reasons for seeking abortion. Sometimes they are truly in danger of dying because the pregnancy is too great a strain on their pre-existing medical conditions. Other times they simply cannot afford yet another mouth to feed. Although abortion access isn’t really one of my soap boxes, I cannot consider myself a defender of social justice and turn a blind eye to this dilemma. Abortion is legal in this country and is a part of comprehensive OB/GYN practice. I cannot ethically permit my scope of practice to be limited by religiously or politically motivated restrictive work covenants.

And then there are my professional interests which include issues pertaining to the LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender / transsexual, queer / questioning, intersex) communities, Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome (Mullerian anomalies) and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The majority of gender and sexual minority patients receive sub-optimal and inadequate care. And although PCOS affects around 7-8% of women it is often the elephant in the exam room that is repetitively ignored. I must also make myself available to these underserved populations.

One recruiter wrote to tell me that “the 232 clients my colleagues and I are working with nationwide will not be able to provide you with all of those items. If they are really non-negotiable factors, I will not be able to assist you with your search.” Fortunately there are many other recruiters that do not share his lack of vision.

Although my personal life and professional ambition may “offend” some I am confident that I will find the right place for me. The map is wide open and opportunity calls.

Women’s Work?

I was recently interviewed for an article published in the March 2012 edition of Minnesota Medicine, the journal of the Minnesota Medical Association.

In Women’s Work? Obstetrics/gynecology struggles with the gender question, author CArMen PeOtA addresses the gender shift of OB/GYN physicians from once a predominantly male to a now predominantly female presence.

My input lies toward the end of the article, under the “The Value of Gender Balance” section heading. She writes:

Those concerns didn’t put off third-year University of Minnesota ob/gyn resident James Pate, M.D. “There’s such a strong need for providers in every specialty that there will always be jobs available.” His plan is to specialize in caring for patients
with atypical gender experience. Like most men and women who go into ob/gyn, Pate says the appeal of the specialty is that it offers physicians the chance to do both primary care and surgery. Pate actually thinks it’s a good thing that nine out of 10 of his colleagues in ob/gyn residencies are female. “In the past, all of medicine was heavily dominated by men,” he says. “Having the majority of providers [be female] makes sense. They are women, and they care about women and want to provide excellent health care to women.” But he believes both males and females bring a perspective to practice that’s valuable. “Both our female colleagues and our patients appreciate the male presence,” he says.