By Lt. Paul Talise, OB/GYN, Naval Hospital Guam
There is something about caring for women.
When I entered medical school I wasn’t certain what type of doctor I wanted to be, but after finishing several different clerkships in various specialties, I was convinced that OB was where I wanted to be. I wanted to be able to practice primary care and surgical management of patients, which this specialty affords me. The complexities of women’s health intrigue me. Every stage of life, a woman has something unique going on, from puberty to menopause, as well as during pregnancy. To me women are very engaged patients.
Some may wonder if it’s hard for a man to work in a heavily dominated female field but being a man in a “woman’s world” doesn’t bother me nor I believe do my patients. When patient’s walks through the door, they understand I’m genuinely there to help them it doesn’t matter if I’m male or female. They just appreciate what I’m trying to do for them.
I always strive to be professional but also to put my patients at ease and provide them with “a chill environment”, to help them feel more comfortable sharing information or asking me questions.
What my patients won’t need to ask is what I believe about health, personally and as a doctor. I strongly emphasize that health is a lifestyle, which happens through prevention. Early prevention is important. It’s always better to prevent something versus having to treat.
A good example of prevention is cervical screenings and follow ups. As a cervical cancer screening champion, I and the OB/GYN Department work hard educating and vaccinating our patients with Gardasil, the only human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that helps protect against four types of HPV which can lead to cervical cancer. It’s one of the very few cancer preventing vaccines you can get. Something as simple as this vaccine, through education, allows us to help our patients make a big change early on whether they are 9 years old or 26.”
Our OB/GYN Department has also started a contraception class. It allows doctors with the ability to have a frank discussion about the subject and address things that can help prevent sexually transmitted infections. Sometimes when we are young we have to go through experiences to learn, but it’s nice to have someone with the knowledge to help educate you so you can make better informed decisions.
As doctors we often find that when we have to treat someone; many times it is due to a lack of knowledge on their part. In these cases although it may be too late to prevent something we can still provide help and health for them.
One of my favorite aspects of working as an OB/GYN is helping patients get healthy while planning their pregnancy. It’s also where prevention is so great because, for example, we can help prevent gestational diabetes. Fifty percent of women who get diabetes during pregnancy will get it again at some other point in their life. If we can prevent or control a situation for the patient going into pregnancy, it will have a much better outcome for the patient and the baby later on.
I encourage all of my patients to go into the New Year as healthy as possible. One way they can do this, is to stop by the immunizations department and get vaccinated against HPV to help minimize their risks for cancer.
I also encourage patients to show up for their follow up appointments and receive a checkup every year. Although a Pap smear might not be needed, an examination should be done annually. They should also write down any questions and bring it with them to their appointment.
Most importantly, eat healthy and exercise. These two things can help prevent getting high blood pressure and getting diabetes.
What I have learned with patients is, many times, they don’t need a prescription for what is wrong as much as they need to be educated on the benefits of being healthier, eating healthier, or to quit smoking.
There is lot of information out there on the internet and you can find most anything on it, but it’s a matter of the source of that information and whether it has been proven or tested to be accurate. In military medicine we practice through evidence based information. It’s always changing. We want to be sure we are treating our patients with what has been proven to work. We provide articles based on our patient’s questions or concerns.
Finally, I encourage all patients of my patients to use Relay Health. The secure messaging system allows me to talk back and forth with them whenever they have questions. As long as they are plugged into the clinic through their medical home port team, I’m always available to answer questions.
I love what I do. I love that this specialty is all about helping and educating patients.