Dr. Kathryn Stambough is a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist at ACH as well as the Assistant Director of the OB/GYN Residency Program at UAMS. She provides care through the General Gynecology Clinic, Differences of Sex Development/Differentiation Clinic, Spinal Cord Disorder Clinic, as well as the Gender Clinic. She is passionate about reproductive health care and is an excellent mentor and teacher to students. In this episode, we discuss her journey to this subspecialty within OB/GYN as well as her goals for the care she provides as well as for Arkansas. She shares her advice for medical students, the impact a mentor had on her journey, the importance of advocacy as a physician, the realities of “balancing” work and life, plus much more.
Manasa: Welcome back to Mentor Spotlight, the podcast to help UAMS medical students connect with faculty mentors. This is Manasa, and today I’m excited to have a conversation with Dr. Kathryn Stambough, pediatric and adolescent gynecologist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She’s a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, as well as a steering member for the latter’s fellows research consortium. While originally from Little Rock Dr. Stambough completed the majority of her medical education in Missouri at WashU, and Texas at Baylor. She’s returned to be a part of the team at ACH, and if you rotate with her you will see that she loves to teach. She is actually the first preceptor that I worked with during my M3 rotations, and I had a great experience with her getting dipped into the sea of medicine that we see in M3 year. So I’m very excited, for you all to meet, and let’s go ahead and talk with Dr. Stambough! So first off, we’ll start off with her telling us a little bit about herself. So I’ll let her introduce herself to y’all!
Dr. Stambough: So thank you, I can’t believe it’s been that long since we met each other, so gosh time flies right? This is crazy so… I’m Kate Stambough, I’m originally, from Little Rock, like you mentioned, born and raised, left after high school for college. And then kind of stayed in St. Louis where I did college for medical training, and worked a little bit before going back to fellowship in Texas.
Manasa: Ok, yeah. So I guess if we had to look at your whole career at Children’s here so far, plus before whenever you worked before you went back to fellowship, that then after as well, what has your journey been like since there to here?
Dr. Stambough: My journey has been an eventful and fun one for sure. I think when I started out thinking about wanting to be in the medical career, I think as a field we are all used to that stepwise fashion. Right. We go to college, we go to medical school, we do residency. And then Laser focused on potentially, you know, kind of getting out and into the role of practicing medicine or kind of going on to fellowship to do more specialized training. I think, along the way, I always knew that I wanted to do fellowship, but from me, there are things that came up kind of in personal life and creating that work like balance that meant that that my route was a little bit more circuitous, right, that I that I worked before kind of coming back to more specialized training, and then in terms of knowing that I was focused on a goal, but also allowing myself to make sure that outside of work, those places that were important also kind of got met as well, and so eventful in that I have been able to build interests in life outside of medicine, and then also reach those goals, eventually finishing fellowship and then being able to specialize in what I do and love now.
Manasa: Yeah, that’s awesome. I’m glad you were able to find the path that fit you right.
Dr. Stambough: Absolutely
Manasa: If we had to talk about all the job titles that you have currently, what would you say they are, and describe their roles.
Dr. Stambough: So absolutely. I think my official job title is Assistant Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and that I mainly work under the Division of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, which is where we met in terms of a majority of my clinical practice team being over here at Children’s. When I’m over here at Children’s, I primarily practice in the General Gynecology Clinic taking care of reproductive needs for patients up to age 21. But I also hold a couple of other hats in some multidisciplinary spaces which are super exciting for me. So I help provide for patients on our Differences of Sex Development or Differentiation Clinic. DSD is kind of the common term you guys probably come across as you learn about that in your M1 and M2 years, and that’s a super fun clinic with a great group of people. I care for patients in our Spinal Cord Disorder Clinic, as well, and then in our Gender Clinic. So I do that both here as the medical director at AR Children’s, and then also on the adult side as one of the physician members of the team in the Adult Gender Clinic at UAMS.
Manasa: Okay, that’s awesome. We’ll get more into that a little bit further into the interview as well! So if a student came to you asked you what’s your typical week is like, or what might I expect my life to be like if this is the career path I picked, what would you tell them?
Dr. Stambough: Absolutely. I would tell them that it kind of changes day to day and and really week to week, and I think that is part of the reason I love what I do. Certainly, I am in clinic a lot, and a lot of our practice in our cure is delivered in a clinical setting. I have kind of the excitement of going to be the OR throughout the week, and then doing some really fun administrative tasks as well. So usually week to week, about four days of clinic and that’s balanced between general gynecology and then some of the other multidisciplinary clinics that we discussed, primarily with the bulk of that time being with gender patients. And then one day a week, I’m in the operation room, which is super fun to do! And then along the way, there is going to be some fun meetings, and then kind of most recently have transitioned into the role of Assistant Residency Director for Obstetrics and Gynecology, so spend at least a half if not a full day a week doing some administrative tasks. And then focusing on resident didactics and learning. And then along the way, there’s call and anything that comes in as well with that! So it’s fun and exciting and no two days are the same, which is which is great, which I love.
Manasa: Yeah, that’s awesome. So let’s shift a little bit to your educational background that you had. So you left Arkansas to get an education, in Missouri, and then Texas. Can tell us a little bit more about the process of what made you pick the programs that you did?
Dr. Stambough: Absolutely. So you know, I’m born and raised in Little Rock, and don’t get me wrong, obviously love my education here, but knew that I kind of wanted to get out, always knowing on the back end of that, that my goal was to make it back to Arkansas, both to be closer to my family and my friends, but also to provide care for patients in Arkansas. So that was always my motivation. St. Louis- back to my 18 year old self was kind of far enough away to where I got out of Arkansas but close enough that I could both drive and fly if I needed to get back home. And St. Louis was a really cool town to go to college in and I fell in love with it, which is why I stayed in terms of medical training, and then residency. It’s got a really robust system for health care training and I had a great time and absolutely loved my experience there. And I stayed on for a few years, and worked because I ended up meeting my husband there and starting a family. So that’s kind of where that circuitous route came up, and then ultimately always knew I wanted to go back to do a fellowship in pediatric and adolescent gynecology and so was super fortunate to be able to head to Houston to do that. Houston’s a great town. It’s a super fun place with a bunch of amazing medical institutions. And so it was really a great collegial place to train. And for kind of that focused specialized training. But again, always with that kind of goal on the back end of making it back here with a little bit of extra experience and a little bit of a different flavor in terms of training other places to bring back to UAMS and to Children’s.
Manasa: Yeah, that’s awesome! I guess since you are also in one of the program director roles for the residency program, since so many students are interested in going into OB/GYN, what would you say should be the factors that students should look into when considering a program when they are applying?
Dr. Stambough: It’s a great question, and obviously kind of front of mind at the moment since we are here. You know, I think that there are a few things, I think you know there’s the most obvious which is making sure that you’re looking at a program that would kind of fit what your interests are, and it’s always a hard question, right? It’s the question that we always ask and would you want to be a generalist? Do you want to do fellowship or some specialized training… that’s a hard question to answer when you haven’t even started. Right, because we ask you what you want to do based on maybe a four week rotation and then some sort of AI. And so I think if you were not certain, then making sure that wherever you’re going has kind of a balance approach to being able to train you and that people, it seems like historically, have come out of there both being able to be a generalist as well as fellowship training. I think if you know exactly what you want to do, making sure that that program can meet those needs or that you have interest at that program that program can meet those needs. And I think there are things that we don’t talk about much about right? So making sure that wherever you are interested has some work life balance, and some things that outside of work that are going to make you happy and make you whole. We’re so used to being so laser focused on kind of the work that we do and the training that we do. But I think we have to always pull back and be really honest about whether that place and that space in that city can kind of meet those needs and those interests that you have outside of the hospital. I always think the meet and greet with the residents is really important. Do they like each other? Does it seem like a family that you would be joining that would be there for you for the duration of your residency? And I think all of those things outside of rotations and outside of services that they have that would interest you, right, whether it’s leadership, whether it’s research, whether it’s being able to get involved in the community that you kind of value those and then make those a factor in your decision too.
Manasa: Yeah. Do you have any specific tips for getting a feel for that environment on a Zoom call?
Dr. Stambough: Oh sure! I know right the landscape has totally changed, in terms of not being able to be there physically in person, and really to see the dynamics. And not just, you know, I feel like we always have to have a little bit of an asterisk, right, when we do it to know that Zoom calls are so awkward and doing a happy hour where it kind of looks like the Brady Brunch on the screen and kind of that awkwardness of who’s going to talk and cutting each other off and missing those kind of social cues that we can read better in person can make it hard. But I do think as much as you can, paying attention to what the residents say. Right? Do they seem happy? Do they seem like they get along? Kind of ask them about their life outside of the hospital right. Ask them about their experience, and then being, you know, being able to ask honest questions from the faculty and the staff that you meet with, and not being afraid about kind of asking about things that are important to you. I always want to make sure that the interview–it’s a two-way street, right, so we want to make sure you’re a great fit for our residency program, but at the same time, you have to make sure that we’re a great fit for you. And I think that that framing the interviews in that, right, instead of kind of just showing up and feeling like you’re on the spotlight but remember that the program is also in the spotlight. So we want to be open and honest, and really transparent about the things that we think we can meet that are your goals, right. And then always tell you, if you have an interest that we think, Gosh, it may be better that you went somewhere else. In terms of making sure that you get he best training that you possibly can. But I think paying attention to those kind of interactions on a personal level among the residents, and then kind of the faculty, you know and feeling freedom to ask those questions that you think are important to you.
Manasa: Yeah, that makes sense. Like you were saying, it’s a two-way street so you gotta make sure you are a good fit from both sides.
Dr. Stambough: Absolutely.
Manasa: Yeah. So, we kind of took a detour there, but I guess if we went back to you deciding you wanting to pursue Obstetrics and Gynecology back in medical school, how did you make that decision, and what attracted you to OB/GYN specifically? And then also pediatrics and adolescent gynecology?
Dr. Stambough: Absolutely, I have a background in terms of degrees in biology and psychology, and I’ve always loved and kind of that aspect of growth that that we go through as teenagers, right, in terms of kind of how our frontal lobe develops, and how we kind of end up being the person we are. And so I thought I came into medical school thinking I wanted to do adolescent medicine, actually. I loved the aspect of kind of taking care of patients, and what I felt like was a really important part of their lives, and essentially having that impact to kind of shape where they went. And when I was in medical school, I had the good fortune between my first and second year to run into a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist who just happened to reply to an email when I reached out about doing research, and from there became such an amazing mentor. Who I still talk to, and I still call when I have questions. And she was great because she went into the field when there was nobody doing it, right, so kind of created the field and is one of the founders of the Society that I’m a member of, and so she was just such an important part of helping me realize that this was something that I loved. I did research in it all four years of medical school, and then I really remember when I did rotations that M3 year, which seems like forever ago to think about now, but the way we did it was our pediatric and our OB/GYN rotations were sandwiched right next to each other. And so it was really nice to be able to do those back to back and realize that I had much more interest in the obstetric part of kind of care than in the pediatric part. And that there was this field, though, that still kind of let me hold on to what I thought I wanted to do in pediatrics in the beginning which was taking care of teenagers. I just love reproductive health, actually I feel very passionate about it, and I love procedures. I love being in the operating room, but I also love being in that clinical space of being able to have relationship with patients that you can carry over time. And so for me, OB/GYN felt like the best fit after kind of coming in with that interest, and then doing those rotations and kind of where I ended up.
Manasa: Yeah, it’s amazing how one person that you never knew, could like change your whole track. And I mean, you kind of had an idea I guess of kind of what you wanted to do. But they become such an important part of your story.
Dr. Stambough: Absolutely, mentors are important for sure.
Manasa: Yeah, and I am very glad you agreed to be a mentor for our students.
Dr. Stambough: Yeah, absolutely! Absolutely!
Manasa: So if you had to describe about your passions for the field itself. I know we kind of mentioned some of the aspects of the clinical work that you do, and the interests that you came in with when you started residency. Or is there anything else that we haven’t talked about or that you can describe in more details such as the research that you’re doing, the Gender Clinic and the DSD Clinics you are involved with?
Dr. Stambough: Absolutely, I think you know my main passion is just reproductive care. Within the last year, we’ve had some exciting, kind of opportunities to start to engage the community and filling in gaps that I think we all probably feel and know exist, right, you know when we think about our education system, there’s not a lot that’s mandated in a way that our kids and teens learn about themselves, about their body, about healthy relationships, and about growing up. And on the flip side of that, there is some outcomes that we could probably improve. And so in the last year we started doing a curriculum for the community called Girlology. It’s super fun, it’s exciting. We get parents and kids ages 8 to 13 to come in. We lead the discussion, which I think takes a lot of pressure off the parents. And also a lot of anxiety off the kids in terms of having that, you know, really awkward kitchen table talk about like puberty and changing bodies and healthy relationships. And making smart decisions for yourself as you get older. And then my hope is always that then leads to a transition that feels a lot less intimidating for patients, and for their parents and guardians to keep that conversation going at home when they know that we’ve kind of started it. So I think I’m really passionate about reproductive care, both in terms of engaging the community and still building hopefully some opportunities for Arkansas in general to fill in those gaps. but also in how I deliver care in the clinic. I love that I get to do visits with a patient and generally with a parent or somebody that comes with them. I think that that dynamic is exciting and challenging, and my hope is that we can fill in some of those gaps and break down some of those barriers that I think parents and patients feel that they’re home trying to have these conversations. And then, you know, a lot of my research and a lot of my passion surrounds provision of care for transgender and gender diverse patients. Obviously it’s a population that deserves the dignity of the same level of care of any other patient, but certainly has had challenges when it comes to kind of getting care, and so I love that group of patients, I love the care that we deliver, and I love how to figure out how to advance that care so that we’re meeting their needs.
Manasa: Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, I think, as a field, OB/GYN has been in the media recently, for many reasons. Especially in Arkansas, as well, as over the past few years. So how has your field been affected? By… I know it’s hard to have a political discussion where we bring in concepts like that into the daily care that you provide. But you also have values that you want to uphold. And then, as a field, as a physician, you want to be the best provider for the health of individuals, especially as you said, adolescents that are growing up and finding their own identities.
Dr. Stambough: I think it’s hard, right. So in medical school, we’re taught kind of evidence-based approaches to how we care for patients, and then we go through residency and those get hammered home, and we develop and refine our skills, and then to come out in practice…The expectation is that we would be able to do those without limit. Right? And that we are respected among our peers, that we continue to review the literature, and we continue to have some ongoing medical education, and that there are not going to be barriers besides the ones that we create from new research and new recommendations, and expert opinion on the care we provide, obviously knowing that our fields are always changing… and so to bring politics into that can often be challenging and knowing that there are people who haven’t done the specialized training that you’ve done, or to have kind of misconceptions about the care you provide that create limits on what you think is best practice. It’s always hard, right? The ethics of that become hard, the morals of that become difficult. I think the most important thing is that you always show up to provide the best care for the patient, and that you have open and honest conversations with the patient about kind of if there’s legal challenges or legal limitations to the care you otherwise would be providing, that you find a way to get the patient the care they need. Obviously, you know no, you know, breaking any laws or doing anything like that. But you know patients deserve to kind of know this is the evidence. This is why we can’t do it, right, and then to make the best decision for them. You know, I think the other thing that we don’t really learn that much about in medical school, or at least I didn’t, was like advocacy, right? Like that’s not a hat that many of us ever really put on because we’re busy. We have so many other things going on. But it certainly is an an OB/GYN and reproductive care provider, something that I try to kind of lead into and step up to, is really you’re the expert, right? And it’s ok to say that. Sometimes, I think that we’re super humble, and we don’t want to say we’re the expert in something, and we just want to do our work and take the best care of patients we can. But in these space where you may find that others are being very vocal about something that you do but acknowledging that they do not have the foundation of knowledge or the experience that you do, it’s okay to step out and say “I’m the expert in this, and to really provide a balanced kind of view. You know, I think people often don’t know what they don’t know, right, and that’s where kind of dangerous decisions and dangerous dialogue comes from. And so it’s really one of those things where over time, I’ve had to be more comfortable in entering the dialogue, even though that’s not at all something that I was trained to do and not at all something I think we generally feel comfortable doing. And in joining the dialogue, hopefully, you can create some more balance and some more perspective. So that we can kind of shift the tide and help make more evidence-based decisions for our patients without kind of political pressure or political limitations.
Manasa: Yeah, I’ve heard the saying like “Silence can mean compliance at times,” so as someone in power as a physician that’s has the education like you’re saying, it is important for advocacy for patients.
Dr. Stambough: Absolutely. And it’s intimidating. I mean none of us are used to getting up in front of a panel, right, and getting asked questions by people who aren’t physicians, and it, you know, it could be intimidating. And it was something that I was wholly unprepared for when I first started. But you become more comfortable with it, and in the back of my mind, I just remind myself that there’s a whole bunch of patients behind me who don’t have the same opportunity for our voice. And so I think that’s always whenever I get uncomfortable or nervous, or uncertain, what I try to hold onto. But it’s okay to own the fact that you’re talented in what you do, and that you’re an expert in what you do, and to try to bring that balance and fill that kind of silence which I think is otherwise taken for saying, “Okay fine.” Right, but it’s not fine, I think we all kind of go into what we go into to provide the best care for patients possible, guided by evidence in our experience. And so when those clash with kind of what limitations are put outside of that, I think it’s where we have to step up and explain why we think that’s not the best decision for our patients.
Manasa: Yeah, that’s awesome. So we’re gonna shift gears a little bit towards your personality outside of medicine. What are you passionate about, in terms of the things that you do outside?
Dr. Stambough: Oh, sure, yeah! So, I have two kids. Well, I have three kids. I guess I should say. So, I have two boys, five and seven. That are my biological kids, and then my husband and I are foster parents, so we’re really passionate about the foster system. I think it’s something that being, right, being a pediatric gynecologist, we have a lot of contact with, and certainly have had years to kind of see the need for filling those gaps in terms of caring for kids and teens awaiting reunification with their parents, or care givers are kind of awaiting a family to take them in in kind of forever family. And so we have loved that experience. So when I say two, I mean three, cause we currently have a foster placement who is adorable. And just turned three and has been amazing. So that is something that we’re passionate about and that fills a lot of my time outside of work. My boys are busy so it’s a lot of going to soccer practices and doing stuff at school. And I try to be as involved in their school as possible. So I’m on the PTA and I plan their field day once a year which is super exciting. So filling in those places and showing up where I can for them is kind of what fills most of my time outside of work. But I like to exercise so I do indoor cycling–it’s like how I keep myself sane and how, you know, when those moments feel hard, I’m able to just go into a dark room with some loud music and kind of forget about everything for 45 min. So those are generally what keep me busy outside of work.
Manasa: Yeah, what are your most favorite artists? Or songs?
Dr. Stambough: Oh, gosh! I don’t know. I mean I kind of listen to all sorts of music. Yeah, I mean, anything.
Manasa: Do you have an OR playlist that?
Dr. Stambough: Oh, gosh! Yeah, sometimes I do, yeah sometimes I do yeah. Sometimes I listen to, umm like a lot of 90s music, which I’m now dating myself. But I do listen to a lot of that, but generally I just kind of put some spotify channel on random, and see what happens, there’s not a lot of music that I don’t like, to be honest.
Manasa: Just go with the flow.
Dr. Stambough: Just go with the flow, yeah! Yeah i’m trying to think about what I was listening to this morning… I have a chill Mix on my spotify which is what I generally listen to in the morning, might get more ramped up later in the day, but that where we start!
Manasa: Haha, yeah, that sounds good. I guess we’ve talked about this a little bit as well, but as like work-life, balance aspect of things, and then being a female surgeon. There are obviosuly challenges that we hear about throughout medicine where they tell you that it’s hard to have both. But then you also hear of people successful, like you, who are able to make it work. So what do you think are factors that females should consider, but also not put ourselves in a box to where we’re saying, “Oh, we always have to find this balance,” having the confidence to go for it and do things.
Dr. Stambough: Yeah, so I think I do not at all want to misrepresent where I am at, right. So I think there are things outside of work that I value, right. And I say yes to those. So, but I do that in a way that’s manageable. And so I think, first and foremost, becoming comfortable saying no is really important. It’s such a foreign concept to us in medicine, right. Somebody comes to you, and they ask you to write a case report. You immediately say, “yes!”, right? Somebody asks you if you can stay late and do something, right? And you immediately say, “yes!”, right? And so to do the opposite, which is just say “no” can feel really hard, because we are used to kind of climbing that ladder and getting to the next step and wanting to be, you know, fill our CV, and things like that. And so every time you say no, sometimes feels like a missed opportunity to do those things, or the person asking you is really important to you. Or the ask is really important to you, but the first and foremost it’s getting comfortable saying no, either when it isn’t important to you, you know where the value placed in that to you isn’t worth the ask. And that’s okay, right, like do not have to write every chapter somebody asks you. You do not have to write up every patient that somebody else feels is interesting. You don’t have to take on every research project that gets launched your way, and that’s okay. I also think outside of work that if there are things that don’t have value added for you, it’s ok to say no. It’s also okay to ask for help. So there’s a mountain of people behind me that help me, right, where I am. And I once had a mentor and I asked her the same thing. You seem like you have it all, right, like you are so prolific in research. You are an amazing surgeon, and a clinician, and yet you have kind of this family, and everything you do outside of that, and she said” Oh, I don’t do all those things.” There are things where I bring in help, because they’re not things that being me joy and they are not things that are value added for me. And then I really focus on the things that are, and so for me, I have help outside, right, in terms of caring for my kids. There’s somebody who helps get them to school in the morning. There is somebody who helps me in the afternoons and evenings if I need. And there are plenty of things that I don’t and am not able to do, right, so the field trips- I don’t make it to. There are all these things where we also have to appreciate that you know we can’t do it all. We can’t mentally do it all, we can’t physically be in all those spaces, to let go of the guilt that comes with that. Let go of the expectations that you can be kind of both this the surgeon and clinician that you want to be, right, but also the concept of a stay-at-home mom with everything that comes with that and meeting every single need. Like those two can’t co-exist, and that’s okay. So when I talk about doing field day, I do field day because it is the one day a year where I block my schedule and can show up, right. And so that to me is manageable, everything else I cannot do. So I can’t make it to every little class party, I cannot make it to every little after school event. That’s okay. But when I’m home, I’m present, and when I can, I carve out time to show up, and so that could be a hard balance to strike, and definitely I get wobbly sometimes in terms of trying to take on too much. But also every now and then coming back and doing a needs assessment, right. Where am I? What am I doing? What’s too much? What can I let go of? What do I want to do and can take on, and then being okay going back to things, too, saying no upfront, but also going back to things and saying I need to let go of this, because that can be really challenging once we get started and invested in something, to kind of do an assessment and figure out maybe that’s not something that we want to continue. And that’s totally okay. Totally okay, So that’s come over time. And also just to get people around you that you trust that can kind of help you like built a good team. But I think this idea of being able to do it all can feel pretty toxic and hard, right, because we create these, really really big goal posts for ourselves that are often impossible to meet. And sometimes, its not graceful, right. Sometimes it’s not pretty. Sometimes, I forget that like I was supposed to do X or Y. And that’s okay, too. You gotta have some grace with yourself and know that we’re all human. We’re all showing up and we’re all doing the best. But kind of that ability to say no, that ability to self-evaluate, and that ability to kind of let go when things aren’t where value’s added, I think the most important.
Manasa: Yeah, that great advice. So we’re gonna shift gears a little bit more as well. So if I was to ask you, what are your goals and future dreams, either in the next few years, or in the long term, within your career or personal life also?
Dr. Stambough: Absolutely. I think you know, just coming into the role of Assistant Program Director. So my goals are really to continue to further the education of residents in our program, and to get much more involved in terms of didactic training. And then helping make sure that our residents graduate feeling, which I think they do already, but feeling comfortable being generalists, but also making sure they are poised to go onto fellowships if that’s their goal. I think, from career goal, there’s so many more things I would love to do. You know, I think, building up our Gender Clinic is really important in terms of meeting the multi-pronged needs of our patients. And then I think there’s a lot more opportunity that we’re now able to kind of hopefully take and kind of meet in terms of community needs for reproductive health and filling in those gaps in Arkansas that I can’t wait to meet. We’ve got some really exciting things that we started to develop. And some really exciting curricula that I think will be able to roll out to hopefully help those needs. I think you know, ultimately I came back to Arkansas to be able to care for patients ,right. And there’s a lot of gaps in terms of care, and a lot of outcomes that I think we could improve in the state, and so you know, the bigger goals are obviously to move, to move those numbers in the direction that we want in terms of things like teen pregnancy, maternal and infant morbidity and mortality. And so hopefully, with doing some of these things, we can really make a difference.
Manasa: Yeah, ok sounds great! If you had to change something in health care or have a main concern about it right now, which we’ve covered a lot of topics already, what would you say one of your biggest concepts of the system is that you wish would change?
Dr. Stambough: Oh goodness. You know health care is such an interesting place to be right now, because the landscape has changed so much for me from even when I did training, right. So I think patients are getting their information from different places. A lot of it is on social platforms and there’s a lot of misinformation and a lot of misconceptions that can make it a little bit more difficult to practice now. I think more so than ever. I felt the pressures from politics and from legislators about impacts on our care that we never had before. And so I think those things can feel weighty and hard. I think where I would love for medicine to go is for us to become our vocal advocates for the care that we provide, and that’s not just reproductive health providers, right? That’s not just OB/GYNs but for every practitioner to feel, right, that when one of us feels challenged, or when one of us has the evidence-based care that we provide limited, that we all feel that, right, that we all feel called to kind of step up. I think your generation of trainees, more so than ever, is stepping into a role where you can be really big advocates and a lot more vocal about the care that you think you should be providing… like we’re not used to that. That’s not something that we ever felt like we had to do, and I mean certainly, I remember going to training and always thinking, well, there’s somebody else to do that, right. But I think regardless of if you go into OB/GYN or something else, you know, recognizing that as a field, that we begin to advocate for ourselves, that we begin to step up for each other and really support each other, knowing that there are these external pressures that are making the care we provide a little bit harder. I would love anytime that there’s something that affects OB/GYN for kind of everybody else to also come back and champion and say you know I think we just stand need to stand for physicians being able to practice medicine. Would be where I would love for the field to go.
Manasa: Yeah. If you could give one advice to medical students today, what would it be?
Dr. Stambough: Have fun. I mean, I think it’s stressful right. It’s four years of stress. It’s four years of being in the classroom, particularly the first two years, having these didactics, and then you’re thrown into the wards, and it’s kind of just go go go, right, and it’s sometimes hard to step back and realize that what you’re doing is fun and what you’re doing is exciting, and what you’re doing is meeting these kind of goals that you’ve always had for yourself. And make sure that that fun is not only while you’re working, right, but outside of that too. It’s okay to take time for yourself. It’s okay to start to work on that work-life balance now, because that’s the foundation you want to set before you start to really get out in terms of residency and start to really get out in terms of practicing. I mean, just like anything, right, we need to practice first. And so practicing those periods of how having fun, both at work, and also outside of work now, are really important.
Manasa: Yeah. And then, if you have to say you had, like one great piece of advice that someone gave you throughout your journey till now, can you recall anything like that?
Dr. Stambough: Oh, gosh! I know in my mind they all kind of get melded into this kind of like feeling. You know the mentor I talked about earlier, who was the one who introduced me to the field that I’m in now, and really is just primarily responsible for my path. She used to just always say to pay attention to that feeling, like right, that feeling when you’re on a rotation, that feeling when you’re in a clinical setting of if it made you happy. Like I can distinctly remember seeing patients with her between my M1 and M2 year, and just walking out of a room like that was awesome, right, and it could have been the most mundane, straightforward office visit, but, like that was great. Like those moments are important to pay attention to, and they’re not always gonna feel like that. They’re gonna be days that no matter how much you love what you do, feel hard. But you want those days to be outweighed by the days that feel good. Right. Those days that feel like this is what I was called to do. And that’s okay- like it’s okay to say that. It sounds kind of cheesy, right? But really, that feeling of this brings me happiness. This brings me joy. This is something I find exciting and leaning into that, right. Like we often talk about our brain, but we don’t talk a lot about our gut and our heart, right. But those are things that it’s okay to follow a little bit in terms of finding out what’s going to make you happy, and where you’re gonna be the best suited in terms of where you end up in practicing you.
Manasa: Yeah, that’s awesome. If you had to pick one of your most memorable experiences that you’ve had throughout your journey, whether that was just something outside of or like the workplace or with a patient, or anything like that, is there one that you can point out for us?
Dr. Stambough: Oh gosh, I mean I don’t practice obstetrics anymore, you know mostly gynecology in terms of my practice, but there are certainly several deliveries that I can remember, and just the joy surrounding those, you know, like following somebody from the moment that you diagnose their pregnancy, to the moment that you deliver their baby. And the joy that goes along with that process, the joy that surrounds them both from the patient, and their partner, but also from the loved ones that come into the room after, just the happiness and kind of the wide open space they now have to start this kind of new chapter of their life. And then really being humble in terms of being able to be a part of that. And I can think back to several deliveries, and just how amazing that experience was and how privileged I feel to have been a part of that.
Manasa: Yeah. And then if a student wants to contact you, or just to shadow, have you as a mentor, to get involved with research or anything like that, how can they contact you?
Dr. Stambough: Absolutely. So you can email me, totally fine. I will say, give me some grace in terms of responding, right, kind of that 48 hour period, and if I don’t respond, email me again. Like please do that! You know, inboxes gets full pretty quickly, and so certainly, it’s not.. and this probably goes for anybody that you email – not that we are intentionally ignoring it but maybe that it got buried in kind of all the other emails that came after it. So please email me. Feel free if you see me, just to come up and ask to, and my phone number I’m more than happy to also give via email or to anybody that needs it just to text or call. But I’m always more than happy to have people in clinic. I’m always more than happy. I have so many research ideas, research opportunities, and then also kind of things in terms of chapters and publications that get approached about. And so in any way that we can get somebody involved, whether it’s just to know more about what we do or just to come hang out, we are more than happy to kind of help with that. Or to just sit down and talk about kind of where you are if you have additional questions, if you need any advice or help, by no means am I am expert in that field haha, but I am always to try to talk it out.
Manasa: Yeah, great. And is there anything that we haven’t covered so far that you would like our listeners to know?
Dr. Stambough: I mean I think we touched upon it, right, but there are going to be days that feel hard. There are gonna be days, where the score on the test is not what you wanted, where you leave your rotation and don’t get kind of the grade that you thought you should, or you take one of those standardized tests and it doesn’t come back exactly how you had hoped. And those feel really hard, like don’t get dejected. This is the big picture thing. This is kind of a marathon, not a sprint, for lack of a better euphemism, and so realize that those are kind of small blips in otherwise a big, long kind of career. And so you know, take a moment. Be sad, be upset. Be angry, kind of whatever you feel but then recognize that you’re doing what you’re doing because you’re meant for it. And so put that all to the side and kind of start back again with the same effort, with the same resiliency, with the same intention that you went into that with, and know that it’ll be fine. You’ll be okay.
Manasa: Yeah, it’s very easy to lose sight of that.
Dr. Stambough: Mmmhmm. Absolutely, I mean, I have the beauty of much more than 20-20 hindsight by this point, haha, but I still remember those moments where you start to have a little bit of self-doubt that creeps in, or you start to have a little bit of “Is this really what I should do,” or you know kind of the fatalism of what you think one score means for you. But recognizing on the other side of that, that if that is not really the case. And that if this is what you’re passionate about. If this is what you feel whole doing, then that’s what you’re meant to do, right, and so come back with the same resilience, come back with that same determination. Take some time to grieve whatever that is, or be angry, or be sad. But then, but then come back to it, right, Don’t give up!
Manasa: Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Dr. Stambough, for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with us. I’m very excited for our listeners to hear about you, and your advice, and everything else!
Dr. Stambough: Awesome. Well thank you for having me! This is amazing, so thank you.
Manasa: Thank you. And listeners, if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to us. Thank you and see you at the next episode.