I wanted to be a physician since I was 8 years old. I wavered maybe once or twice, and mostly because I doubted my conviction and thought it was impossible to have made up my mind so early in my life and actually meant it. I thought I was being foolish to stay on track. When those other Plan B career choices didn’t amount to much, I embraced the passion and purpose that made me so driven at such an early age.
I still remember the excitement I felt when I was able to finally start my career in medicine. The moment I entered high school and was able to become a “candy stripper”, that was the pivotal moment of my life. If I close my eyes now, I can still smell the scent of the hospital on that first Saturday as I entered Queens General Hospital in New York, and can still hear the beating of my heart. There was nothing that I didn’t volunteer to do and no job was too much of a challenge. I was completely in awe of everyone that I encountered who was involved with patient care. I still remember Dr. Marc Yunis who was always so gentle and kind, and so encouraging. He never minded answering all of my questions. My passion was summarized when I graduated high school with over 1500 volunteering hours. I spent practically all my free time at the hospital.
In medical school, I was most intrigued by the surgical fields. I thought I would become a general surgeon. I didn’t entertain gynecology at all because I knew it came with its evil twin, obstetrics, and there was no way I was going to go through life being sleep deprived. Imagine my distress when the first baby I delivered left me on an emotional high that couldn’t be duplicated in any of the specialties that I rotated through. Yet, I searched through each rotation for the high that would make me change my mind. Pediatrics made me cry. There were so many border babies who were abandoned by their mothers that their plight consumed me emotionally. Medicine was also very sad. It made me feel that obtaining good health was impossible and insurmountable. Making people well to me appeared to be a temporary fix. I was convinced that patients believed in only “pills for ills” and it is only now that I see why I couldn’t go into medicine. I was disgusted by the general surgeons because they were crass and mean to the residents, awful to their patients and embodied the spirit of “demigods” that I couldn’t relate to. I found the field more limited than what I wanted, and there were no “high” moments other than that incredible long 8 hour plus surgery that I was involved in and whose detail I have long forgotten.
I feel that obstetrics & gynecology chose me. It offered me the surgery that I loved and the obstetrics that I fell in love with. The process from prenatal care to the actual delivery of a child who is born with endless and unknown possibilities have never ceased to stop amazing me. I love the interactions with women of all ages, varied backgrounds and cultures. I feel it is the most diverse field in medicine and offers the physician the option to be an integral part of a woman’s life through all stages of her life.
I have been in private practice since 1993 and I still love my job. My practice allows me to provide compassionate and personalized care. As a gynecologist, I am a physician but I am part teacher, psychiatrist, mother, sister, and friend to many of my patients. I believe in developing a personal connection because it allows me to understand the person better, know the journey that led them to me, and to then be able to provide the help that makes sense.
As an obstetrician, I have a lot of high risk patients that I am comfortable to manage. My experience comes from my 7 years of practice in Sullivan County New York where I was one of 2 ob/gyn doctors serving my community hospital. The nearest tertiary or referral medical centers were miles away. The remote location made me self-reliant and helped me to develop my experience in managing almost all high risk situations. The luxury of practicing in Torrance California is that I do have doctors readily available to assist me in caring for my patients.
As an obstetrician I am biased against home deliveries but I do understand the angst that women experience that lead them to seek this alternative and potentially dangerous alternative to a hospital delivery. There is a general belief amongst the couples that seek home birth that the care of an obstetrician is not personalized, doesn’t support the woman’s involvement in her care, and too “interventional” and too quick to perform a Cesarean section mostly because it is convenient to the doctor. In my residency, I was trained by doctors and midwives. I feel that the midwifery experience allows me to be provide similar care in an environment that can readily adapt to an emergency if one was to occur. My Cesarean section rate is extremely low and I welcome completely the involvement of the parents. I see my role as an expert assistant. The memories that the parents will have of the birth of their child is priceless, and it should be a happy one. I have delivered too many babies to remember every childbirth that I have attended. I believe in what Maya Angelou have said, and I paraphrase her here: people may not remember what you said to them, but they will remember how you made them feel.
Recently, I received a call from a patient I helped deliver more than 20 years ago as a resident. She found me after all these years because she always thought of me around the birthday of her son. According to her, she was severely sick when she again presented to the clinic. She said that I noticed the severity of her illness and intervened. She eventually delivered but had to deal with kidney problems and high blood pressure. She feels that if I had sent her home like the others had done, she probably would have died. After all these years she wanted to thank me for saving her life and that of her son who was turning 24. Her story gave me goosebumps and brought me to tears. I vaguely remembered her, but she remembers still how I made her feel.
I am involved with my patients from their first visit, to the hospital delivery and postpartum period. I deliver most of my babies. I wish that I can deliver all but I have children who do need me at home and I need to also my own free time and space to do the things that bring me joy. In my absence, I usually am covered by an esteemed colleague whom I have trust with my own care.
I still prefer gynecology. I love to operate when surgical intervention is necessary and I am a very good surgeon. However, I believe in preventative care and my goal is to not let a problem become a surgical option. Most of my surgeries are out-patient because I am skilled in hysteroscopy and laparoscopy. Utilizing these modalities, I can perform hysterectomies, ablation (an alternative surgery for hysterectomy), remove ovarian cysts, evaluate the pelvis for unexplained pelvic pain, permanent sterilization without cutting, and diagnose endometriosis and remove fibroids vaginally or abdominally. I can perform all these surgeries and have the patient able to go home same day and recuperate in the comfort of her own home.
I manage a lot of women with hormonal imbalance that include polycystic ovarian syndrome, metabolic syndrome, hormonal imbalance and perimenopausal and postmenopausal symptoms. Treatment is usually integrative utilizing herbal supplements, bio-Identical hormonal replacement and home remedies as well as prescriptive medicine.
My interest in holistic medicine was inspired by women from a local ashram in upstate NY. As a young and new physician right out of residency, practicing in a small rural community, was intimidating. The women from the ashram were different than the local women. They were generally more polished, worldlier, and had the confidence to introduce me to a style of medicine that I was not taught in residency. It was during my first year there that I realized why I was so turned off by the medicine rotation in residency. Over my eight years of schooling, I was taught the “pills for ills” philosophy. Within one year my eyes were opened to the realization that it was healthy choices that included a balance diet, being active and having positive connections with others that were necessary for a healthy life. Not pills. Once my AHA moment came, it made sense to me why, for the most part, illness was no accident, and good health was no coincidence.
I have continued to develop my interest in holistic and alternative medicine because I have continued to see firsthand that when a patient takes control of her health and not rely on pills, she becomes empowered and is her own advocate, helping to direct the care that she receives. Feeling empowered leads usually to an improvement in her health, contributes to her self-confidence and mental state. In medicine, as in life, bad things do happen, but the extent that it happens in medicine is modified when the person’s core is healthy and she feels invested in her care.
My practice’s mission is to help promote this empowerment and self-reliance in my patients by listening to their health concerns, address their health needs with the appropriate tests and diagnostic tools to enable me to offer expert guidance to help them live a life of optimal health.