I decided to become a doctor when I was ten, but I didn’t fall in love with OB-GYN until I was 17 and began shadowing a practicing physician regularly. In my large town with a small town mindset, it’s easy to believe that he was the only doctor in the area that catered to under-served populations: minorities, immigrants, and the poor. It’s south Louisiana, so with some of the highest rates of STDs and teen pregnancy, one might think that we need more healthcare, not less. More sex education? Also a no, try abstinence-only. I’ve always held strong political beliefs, but the things I saw in that clinic only reinforced my drive to become a doctor and provide healthcare to ALL women.
When I began college, I had already earned some AP credits in American Government, and since it was something I was passionate about, I decided to get a minor in political science while majoring in biology in order to prepare for medical school. I know, a minor, it’s basically worthless and doesn’t even appear on your diploma, but I learned so much in the political science courses that I took. The cycle of political revolution, the cycle of poverty, the cell cycle… I covered them all, bike not necessary. Again, the disparities in America, and particularly Louisiana’s medical systems were glaring. Did you know that the gender wage gap extends into professional degrees and occupations? Did you know that living in a neighborhood without an emergency room increases deaths by heart attack exponentially (an actual example from the city I went to college in, where the hospital was closed in the predominately African-American part of town)? It makes sense, but these weren’t topics discussed in my biology classes, in my Masters program, or even in the courses I’ve attended so far in medical school. That’s right, thank the minor.
Most people try to go into medical school with an open mind regarding specialization. It happens so much later and really depends on STEP scores, so it’s not worth worrying about. My eyes had been opened, though, and I just couldn’t let OBGYN go. So, my first semester at AUC, I worked with several other students to reinstate OBGIG, the OBGYN Interest Group, which had been dissolved since Hurricane Irma in 2017. Our mission is to further the education of our members in topics related to obstetrics and gynecology, using professional lectures, workshops, and meetings.
We typically have an address by an alum at least once per semester (pre-COVID-19), in which they discuss how to be competitive for an OBGYN residency, hospitals they have worked in, or any top-secret tidbits they have. This is by far my favorite part of AUC, the willingness of upperclassmen to help those behind them, raising up the next generation of physicians.
The greatest hit by OBGIG, though, is the Labor and Delivery Workshop. This is usually held every-other semester on campus, and partners with the Pediatric Interest Group (PIG) to create and immersive learning environment from labor-admission to post-natal care. The physician advisors for each club give a short talk on basic care for both mother and baby. We watch a short delivery video, and then students can take turns at stations for delivery and post-natal exam.
The advisors walk students through each stage step-by-step, including common techniques. For example, when delivering a baby, it is important to remember the “pen drop” technique. When you drop a pen, it falls straight down to the floor, not deviating toward any angle. Similarly, you should not angle the baby’s head when trying to deliver the shoulders through the pelvic girdle. This could cause brachial plexus or vascular damage, resulting in permanent paralysis or cognitive deficits. The pediatric portion involves an in depth discussion of Apgar scoring, which determines the overall health of the newborn, and whether any immediate medical attention is necessary.
[Above: Dr. Adelstein demonstrates delivery techniques to students, including MS1 Savanna Craib (top right) and MS2 Eshita Sharmin (bottom left). (Bottom right) Dr. Patno discusses Apgar scoring and primary newborn screening with MS1 Brie Gossman.]
Every semester, students from each of the interest groups and clubs participate in a research showcase, the last one having been in October 2019, prior to the current pandemic. Students present novel case studies from contributing physicians, and are judged on case, poster, knowledge, and presentation. Serving as OBGIG’s Research Coordinator, I collected volunteers, created groups, assigned cases, and guided them throughout the process. OBGIG always has ample volunteers, and we were able to create three groups for the symposium. Shown below are two of these groups.
Pictured below: (Top from right to left), Julie Wancik, Amy Hackett, Krusha Patel, Aileen Delarosa, Alexis Love, and Nahal Torabi presented on a case of vesico-vaginal fistula post-leiomyoma removal. (Bottom from right to left), Sonali Alluri, Shanise Bush, Shauna Harrison, Sarah Alamprese, Paige Golian, and (not pictured) Madison Gambrill presented on a case of vacuum delivery in a high risk pregnancy.
I continue to serve as OBGIG’s research coordinator. It has allowed me to create so many connections and real friendships along with continuing my passion for obstetrics and gynecology. I absolutely cannot wait to utilize what I have learned in the “real world” of the clinic. Above all, I realize more every day that with so many good hearts waiting to serve women across the country and the world, systemic poverty, racism, and lack of education in healthcare do not stand a chance. And how do I see myself using that minor in political science? I will continue to fight for the rights of American women to healthcare and education, at every level of government, no matter where I end up. I may not be given the gift of an OBGYN residency or fellowship, but the knowledge I have, a gift that so many go without, will continue to drive me.
Special thanks to my co-founding team: Nicole DiTommaso, Maekhila Koppikar, Esha Sanyal, Shelbie Scharf, Malina Mohtadi, Shahar Qureshi, and Andrea Garcia. Without you all, none of my dreams would have been possible.