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Choosing Your Medical Specialty: Obstetrics and Gynecology

Choosing Your Medical Specialty - OB/GYN |
Lorelyn Medina/

Why I Chose to Become an Ob/Gyn Physician –

My interest in medicine began with my grandmother, who was a labor and delivery nurse. I used to visit regularly and listened to her exciting stories. My grandfather was a general practitioner in the 1940’s, having graduated from medical school in 1928. My grandmother told me stories of his practice in a West Virginia coalmine town. She showed me his medical bag and had all of his medical books.  He treated all manner of disease in all age groups, including delivering babies and performing surgery. Unfortunately, he died before I was born, but his legacy lived on through my grandmother and my perusal of his medical books. I knew at the age of 10 that medicine was the career for me.

As I grew older, I began to appreciate the sacrifices that my grandfather had made. I loved that he was able to not only diagnose disease states, but to treat them medically or surgically as needed. I loved my biology and chemistry labs in college, as they were hands-on.  I was given a problem to solve, a chemical to make, or an animal to dissect, and I loved working with my hands. I entered medical school with no real preconceived notion of what field I would eventually enter, but knew that I had to use my hands in some way.

As I went through my rotations, I was drawn to surgery and Ob/Gyn. I considered interventional radiology and anesthesia, but neither allowed continued care of patients once their procedure was complete. I loved my surgery rotations, as there was such a diversity of procedures and subspecialties that could be chosen. I quickly realized, however, that surgery was a referral specialty. Once you had operated and fixed the problem, there were only one or two post-operative visits, and then you never saw the patient again.

Obstetrics and Gynecology allows me the opportunity to see women of all ages, each decade with its own set of potential problems.  I not only diagnose conditions in my patients, but I medically or surgically treat them and continue to see them throughout their lifetimes. I see women needing annual exams, contraception, management of abnormal Pap tests or sexually transmitted disease, breast health, those desiring to have a child, peri- and menopausal women, pregnancies and delivery of babies. I perform both open and minimally invasive surgery for ectopic pregnancies, endometriosis, cesarean sections, ovarian and uterine procedures, including hysterectomies and complex pelvic reconstructive surgery.

Surgery appealed to me so much so that I completed a fellowship in Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery. I love working with the older women who so appreciate the fact that I can help them with their urinary and fecal incontinence, as well as pelvic organ prolapse. I am a one-stop shop for women’s health care. Some primary care is taken on with vaccinations and treatment of uncomplicated hypertension and diabetes. We certainly manage most medical problems that a pregnant woman might have. Ob/Gyn offers a wide variety of subspecialties, including Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Gynecologic Oncology, and Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. These are all Board certified subspecialties requiring formal fellowship training. Other non-Boarded subspecialties include Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, Minimally Invasive Surgery, Sexual Dysfunction, Management of Menopausal women, and Family Planning, among others.

Obstetrics and Gynecology is the perfect choice for me. Each exam room contains a wide variety of patients of differing ages and needs. I am never bored during my days at work. As I grow older, I am considering tailoring my practice such that I no longer take Ob call.  As exhilarating as it is to help a couple bring new life into this world, it is getting harder to recover from the late nights and weekends. This will allow me to concentrate more on menopausal women and Gynecologic surgery.

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About Susan Kerrigan, MD

Dr. Susan Kerrigan is married and a full time mother of four school aged children. She attended The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BS in Biology. She then followed in her grandfather's footsteps to The Medical College of Virginia (MCV) where she earned her MD. She stayed on at MCV for a four year residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology, followed by a fellowship in Urogynecology at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio. She is currently taking a sabbatical from medicine.