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Our alumni are located in all corners of the world and in many different kinds of institutions. While our alumni have different subspecialities and work in different locales, they all have the same training base. We hope their perspective will help inspire you and provide a unique perspective on residency training.
Our current profiles are Drs. Aparna Diwan Shah, Drew Hundley, Mandy Pulliam, Jennifer Wu and Alison Weidner. All have chosen to go into the field of Urogynecology. We hope you enjoy reading about why they chose our residency program and ultimately went into urogynecology.
During medical school, I found advocating for women and women’s healthcare to be one of the most rewarding aspects. I realized very quickly in medical school that I loved surgery, but what I fell in love with most of all during my Ob/Gyn rotation was the ability to connect with female patients, form meaningful patient-doctor relationships, and impact quality of life in women.
I realized during my residency training that I loved the opportunity to educate women about their well-being and impact their quality of life. I loved that is a newer field, in which the research and technology are growing and changing rapidly from one day to the next. With our population aging, I felt that there was a need for physicians who are passionate about quality of life in women of all ages, and I loved the fact that practicing urogynecology would allow me to potentially impact and improve the lives of so many women.
I was (of course!) first drawn to the program’s stellar reputation as a place that provides incredible training in obstetrics and gynecology as well as a strong academic foundation. When I interviewed, I realized that between BWH and MGH there was essentially nothing in the field of Ob/Gyn that I would not see, manage and experience as a resident. I also realized that I would be surrounded by amazingly accomplished and driven physicians who would drive me to be the best physician I could be. What struck me most of all at my residency interview, though, was how kind, caring and cohesive the residents seemed. It truly felt like a place that would feel like home-and it did!
I certainly feel like I saw, experienced, and managed just about everything relevant to an obstetrician and gynecologist during my training, from the simplest to the most complex. As a result, in real world practice I have always felt that I can manage any medical situation that presents itself. I also feel like it prepared me well to understand that medicine is ever-changing, and that to be a great physician one must forever learn, change and adapt. Finally, it provided me with a phenomenal network of colleagues who truly are leaders in women’s healthcare, many of whom I keep in touch with to this day.
Every day that I am in practice, I am thankful that for the opportunity to care for women, to advocate for women, and to improve quality of life for women, and I am reminded that I selected the perfect field of medicine for me. Additionally, as fellowship director, I love my day to day interactions with fellows and residents and the opportunity to educate and train future urogynecologists. I feel like I learn so much from our trainees, and really value the fact that I have a chance to impact their careers.
I have so many great memories from residency! But I would say one of my favorites is definitely graduation. Our class definitely had a wonderful chemistry, and it was so bittersweet to move on and graduate but leave my incredible classmates and colleagues.
I miss many things. I miss my very cohesive, bright, hard-working, compassionate co-residents, both my classmates and many residents ahead of and behind me in training. At BWH/MGH I felt I was truly surrounded by the brightest, most ambitious and most accomplished physicians, co-residents, fellows and attending physicians who drove me to be the best physician I could be.
While the days, weeks and months will feel very long and, at times, grueling, the years or residency training will pass very quickly so try to focus on all the incredible opportunities to learn and to build relationships with colleagues.
Restoring quality of life for my patients!
I really had no clear idea of what field of medicine I was interested in when I started medical school, but I felt a strong connection with OB/GYN during my third year rotation. The diversity of the specialty, the richness of the personal relationships, the technical demands of the surgical procedures, and the connections I felt with physicians already in the field all made it an easy decision for me.
It was a hard choice because I really enjoyed all aspects of general practice but ultimately I decided I wanted to focus on gynecologic surgery and the complex issues involved with prolapse repairs, incontinence, fistulae and other surgical complications. I love the patient population and it is hugely satisfying to know that you are having a major impact on people’s quality of life.
BWH/MGH was hard to beat in terms of reputation. I knew I’d get outstanding training, a diversity of experience, and the opportunity to learn from and train with the best, including thought leaders in our field. Of course it’s hard to beat Boston as a place to live and work too.
It goes without saying I had the opportunity to learn from teachers with great technical skills and knowledge, but the most important thing I got from my training was exposure to role models. I had so many great physicians to emulate, not just from a practice stand point, but in all aspects of my career. I saw what it meant to constantly be learning, to provide care with empathy, to think critically and perform clinical research, and to be professional. So much of the way I practice medicine today is a direct result of watching the people who trained me.
I felt pretty strongly about staying in academics in order to continue practicing clinically while still being anchored to a teaching institution and being a researcher. I never imagined having a chance to build a Division from scratch at a major academic center, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunities I’ve had. Running a Division and a fellowship program were goals but maybe not expectations. Years into my career, I still feel fully invested in what I’m doing.
My first night intern year I had to cover the 1500 pager because one of the 2nd years was stuck outside the country and of course a ruptured ectopic arrived in the ED. I was in way over my head but my chief shepherded me through it without missing a beat (thank you Kathy Economy). It was obvious to me at that point that I had a lot to learn but also that I was in the right place to do so.
My classmates. Residency is such a unique, high stress experience that it really galvanizes relationships. I feel incredibly fortunate to continue to have solid relationships and regular clinical interactions with colleagues in Oncology, REI, MFM and general OB/GYN in my current job, but it’s never the same as the shared experiences you have with your co-residents. I see classmates from time to time but wish it happened more often.
Perhaps just to trust your instincts about what will make you happy in your career. There are so many options for the practice of medicine in terms of clinical focus, size, location, patient population and job responsibilities that you have to pursue something that you think will bring you satisfaction. It’s too easy to get burned out if you don’t enjoy what you do.
I feel like I make a difference in people’s lives. Everything else pales in comparison when someone tells you that you have improved their quality of life.
My Father is an OB/GYN, and my mother is a midwife, so I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! I actually tried to become a pathologist, but each time I walked around in the OR to pick up specimens for frozen section, I realized I wanted to be a surgeon. I did one year of a pathology residency at MGH, and I remember AK Goodman bringing us an ovarian cyst with a 12-15 inch diameter. The pathology form said, “lost to follow up due to fear of cancer.” The exposure to gynecology even as a pathology resident was so compelling—AND I talked too much to ever be a very good pathologist! Eventually I made my way to OB/GYN, where I should have been all along.
May Wakamatsu! I was a second-year resident on the MGH team with upper levels who wanted to go into MFM, and so I was given all of May’s cases that block. I loved it and never looked back.
That’s a complicated question for me. I joined BWH/MGH during my third year of residency. Before that I was a resident at Boston Medical Center. At that time, BU residents spent about 3 months of the 2nd year at MGH. I fell in love with the program and the people (though I also enjoyed BU!), and when the opportunity arose (someone departed BWH/MGH after two years), I took a chance and applied. It was my great fortune to be invited to join the residency!
Two things (among so many!). One was an opportunity for a lot of academically based public speaking. Its amazing to me when I think back on how many in house conferences (think Mec rounds!) and presentations we did—and how it has provided me a comfort with that type of public speaking that has served me so well. Also, and I know it sounds trite, but the studious adherence to high practice standards and patient care have been an amazing foundation.
Not at all! About a year ago I left clinical practice to take on the role of Chief Medical Officer at startup company called Renovia. Its been an adventure, and not one I anticipated. I was so compelled by the technology, and then I turned 50(!). I decided to make a leap and see what happens. It has been a humbling learning experience, but I am loving every minute.
Night float on the OB floor at the Brigham with Aparna Shah and Stephanie Morris…I even think we wore tiaras one night for a reason I can’t remember.
Intense camaraderie. Although I certainly get more sleep these days, I sometimes remember being in the fray wistfully…
Don’t hesitate- throw yourself into everything! If an opportunity presents itself to learn something new in the research or educational arena, hone your clinical skills, or build a relationship, DO IT! You will never be sorry for pushing yourself. It may not seem to be the case right now, but four years flies by, and the opportunities you have with an amazing group of educators, researchers and clinicians are yours for the taking.
The thought of making a big impact with the new devices we are working on- and making a standard of care change if we succeed.
I was driven to pursue a career in obstetrics and gynecology to promote women’s health and improve women’s quality of life. I was not one of those medical students who knew I wanted to do Ob/Gyn from the start. Then during my medical student rotation, I was just drawn to the field and the opportunity to care for women.
I decided to pursue a career in urogynecology in order to educate women about pelvic floor disorders, to increase awareness about these conditions, and to improve women’s quality of life. It is incredibly rewarding to help women with their pelvic floor disorders, and they are so appreciative when their incontinence symptoms improve or when they are no longer bothered by their pelvic organ prolapse. I also really enjoy the surgical aspects of the field. When I was a resident, urogynecology was a fairly new field, and at that time, we did not have a specific Urogynecology rotation. However, my exposure to surgeons at both BWH and MGH helped me to realize that this was the right subspecialty for me.
I chose BWH/MGH for several reasons: the academic rigor, the outstanding clinical and surgical training, exposure to amazing faculty, and the wonderful residents.
My training in BWH/MGH enhanced my critical thinking, independence, public speaking, and leadership. I had a wonderful time in residency and think about my time there very fondly.
When I was a resident, my goal was to be a residency director. However, in fellowship, I developed a passion for research, and I have remained fairly focused on clinical research in pelvic floor disorders. More recently, I became the Division Director for Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at UNC-Chapel Hill, and although I had not envisioned myself in this position, I am thoroughly enjoying this role.
1. My BWH L&D nights team when I was a chief. 2. Our Shindig get-together in Newport, RI. A number of us from different residency classes went down to Newport, RI one weekend for what we called the “Shindig” (based on Christine Shin). Several of us still get together for a “Shindig” every few years.
My co-residents. While I still see those in Urogynecology at AUGS on a regular basis, I wish that I had the opportunity to see more of my co-residents.
Appreciate this time that you have with your co-residents and the faculty.
The opportunity to mentor trainees and junior faculty.
I knew early on that I wanted to be involved in a surgical or interventional field because I love technical skills and procedures. I also found that I enjoyed getting to know patients and caring for them over a longer period of time than most of the surgical fields permitted. When I rotated on OBGYN as a student and got along famously with most of the residents, that sealed it for me.
Before residency I had considered general surgery and had had a great exposure to reconstructive plastic surgery. Urogyn offered me an opportunity to combine those interests in women’s healthcare, with surgical procedures that appealed to my interest in anatomy and function, with some element of creativity. I also liked that the science of the field was really just getting started with all kinds of opportunities there as well.
It was clearly the BEST place in the nation to train from the variety of top notch faculty, the range of general and subspecialty practices, and (what was then) the intern year of surgery/medicine/OBGYN. When I interviewed I was impressed with the number of enthusiastic residents who showed up for interview events and their collegiality when I spent time with them beyond the interview schedule. I felt that indicated they were invested in attracting top candidates to join them.
I had the good fortune to be mentored by Eboo Versi during residency, who advised me about the feasibility of urogyn at that particular time, when only the earliest programs were accredited and certification was in the distant future. He provided much needed introductions to leaders of the field, some of whom became invaluable mentors as I progressed through my career. May Wakamatsu showed me how an academic urogyn practice could work, and gave me tremendous guidance as I asked questions about the field. I feel like I have benefitted significantly from being in the right place at the right time, and starting out from BWH/MGH was a part of that. It’s not uncommon for patients to tell me they sought out my profile online and came to see me in part because of the institutions at which I trained. Harvard in your background is universally regarded as indicative of excellence.
I’m pretty much where I positioned myself to be. I spend probably 60-70% of my time in clinical care, research, and teaching. The rest is administrative working to build what we need to meet our department’s data science and clinical operations objectives, and working with others across the health system on similar initiatives.
I can recall being gently corrected by Dr Repke at morning rounds after I off-handedly mentioned permitting a laboring patient to have what I considered a harmless (but admittedly not evidence based) intervention by her labor nurse. I think of that often when I contemplate the various practices we currently engage in for patient care—and what’s the evidence (or unfortunately often the lack thereof) supporting them.
My classmates! We were tight, and I was honored to be part of such an impressive group. Purple OB patient cards are a fond and now obsolete memory. I also miss Kupel’s bakery, chicken noodle soup from Au Bon Pain (I think I had gallons of it), counting smoots on Mass Ave bridge, and running on the Esplanade. There’s nothing quite like rounding a corner on one of those bridges and being hit with the wind off the bay. Everybody gets busy with life and I think it has been hard to connect back with my class and others of those who I knew as residents and fellows.
As you contemplate your first career steps, consider less focus on a specific clinical area, rather perhaps think about it from the perspective of what gives you satisfaction in your work. How do I like to think? How much collaboration do I need with teams vs a smaller group? How much control do I want over my day to day activities or schedule? What kind of time scale do I like to work under? What do I want for my life outside of work? Do I get satisfaction from broad expertise or being THE expert in a more focused area? Also, take a look at the careers of people who are doing the jobs you are considering for yourself. Do you someday see yourself being where they are in their mid career? These kinds of questions might help you decide whether a career you think is attractive right now will still be attractive for the bulk of your professional life.
I really get a charge out of seeing patients back in the office and having them express gratitude for what we are able to do for them; I can honestly tell them it makes my day to hear about that. Many had perceived they couldn’t expect such improvement, or that there were no good treatments available for their problems. I also really love watching fellows and residents mature in their surgical skills and their surgical decision making. I like having the ability to be able to cultivate that kind of intangible and somewhat artistic capacity.