Dr. Mary D’Alton, obstetrician and gynecologist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Why I care for women: Women are the heart and anchor of a family, and caring for them is a tremendous privilege. I entered the subspecialty of maternal-fetal medicine (MFM), which focuses on high-risk pregnancies, at a time when we were experiencing phenomenal innovation in ultrasound technology. These innovations allowed us to put eyes on the fetus during pregnancy, make diagnoses, and even develop in utero therapies like never before. It was a very exciting time, but I noticed that we were not seeing this same progress and innovation in maternal health. And, in fact, maternal mortality and morbidity (complications) were increasing in the United States. Since 2010, I’ve focused on mom — how do we identify her risk, how do we mitigate it, and what improvements to research, education, and clinical care are needed? That shift to focusing on the “M” in “MFM” was definitely a defining moment for me, one which I will forever be grateful occurred.
Words of wisdom: The most important thing for women to know about their health is that they should listen to themselves and be sure that their providers are listening to them. My father, who was the general practitioner in the small town in Ireland I grew up in, always said, “If you want to know what’s wrong with a patient, ask her.” Women know their bodies, and we, as providers, need to be sure that we are including them as integral members of their care team.