My father was a small-town General Practitioner in New Zealand where I spent my first 18 years, and ever since I can remember I was going to be a doctor. I grew up watching him make house calls, visiting his office, hearing him talk about delivering babies in the middle of the night, and working for him as a file clerk in the summers. At that time, I was only aware of several career choices for “smart” girls. Doctor, lawyer, accountant, teacher… and since none of the others held any appeal whatsoever it seems more destiny than choice. For a brief time, I considered clothing design since I was taught to be an expert seamstress by my mother and had been making my own clothes and selling them since about age 14. I’ve told many surgical patients that story and it always seems to make them smile. I am still a seamstress, I just sew a different type of fabric.
My expectation was that my two-month Ob/Gyn rotation as a medical student at Baylor College of medicine would be a horrific nightmare of sleepless nights and cruel, slave-driving teachers as described by many of my colleagues. Much to my surprise, that rotation was one of the best two months of my life, and for the first time in memory I woke up happy, went to bed happy, and was happy in between. I felt like I had found my calling and my purpose.
My Ob/Gyn residency was another four years of fun, and as much as we loved to complain about the hours (often up to one hundred per week in those days), most of my memories of that time are of true deep friendship and connection with my fellow residents who are still some of my best friends, some incredible and some shockingly terrible teachers (both who taught me equal amounts), and the daily joy of being part of some of the world’s most miraculous events.
In 1999 I began practicing as an Obstetrician/Gynecologist in an insanely busy two-person operation in which I was the slave and my boss was the master. This initially was thrilling, new, and a daily adrenaline rush, but soon became a source of great anxiety and discontent. The office wasn’t run well, patients waited too long, the decor was old and dirty, we were understaffed with high turnover and gossip was the norm. I just knew there had to be a better way. I frequently cite this experience as one of the most valuable of my life, as it inspired me to dream of the way things could be, and then created a situation in which things were bad enough to give me the courage to leave and made my dream a reality. Had things been just a little better, I would never have created “Complete Women’s Care Center” and you would not be reading this now.
Complete Women’s Care Center (www.completewomenscarecenter.com) was born with me as a solo practitioner and a staff of 4, and a huge dream to grow the all-female, highly service oriented and cutting-edge Ob/Gyn practice which has since become a reality. Currently, with 28 all-female providers and an all-female staff of over 140, we are the largest all-female Ob/Gyn practice in the country (probably the world, although we haven’t been able to verify that); truly a dream come true.