Designer Pamella Roland’s spring 2013 collection took center stage in December at The Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Second Annual Women’s Health Fashion Show and Luncheon at The Waldorf=Astoria. The models wore jewelry provided by Chopard, and more than 500 guests enjoyed a luncheon menu selected by chef Mario Batali.
The event raised more than $450,000, which will be used to raise awareness about the importance of primary care in the prevention and detection of women’s medical issues, fund research on reproductive cancers, educate women about heart health, and investigate the relationship between gender differences and the environment.
When yet another team sets off from the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science for some remote location in Africa or Central America, its thoughts are on how to provide the superior standard of care, considered to be the routine at home, to women in drastically resource poor settings. Upon returning, what our teams often realize is that the tremendous expertise they develop in these countries is the very thing that makes them the experts in their own fields at home. Fistula repair is the perfect example of this.
“Obstetric fistula is a tremendous problem in sub-Saharan Africa,” says Charles Ascher-Walsh MD, Assistant Professor, Director of Gynecology and Urogynecology, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science. “In many countries there is very little maternal health care and, as a result, maternal mortality rates top 1% in some of these countries. These rates are unfathomable in the United States.” If a woman is lucky enough to survive childbirth, the rates of developing some type of post-partum fistula vary between 2 to 5 per thousand births. This equates to between 50,000 and 100,000 new cases of vesico-vaginal fistula in West Africa alone every year. These women, constantly drenched in their own urine, become social outcasts and live a life of physical and social misery. This problem, however, often has a surgical cure that can reinstitute these women into society.
Dr. Katherine Chen is an Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Education for the Obstetrics/Gynecology Department at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai . She also directs the third year medical student six-week Obstetrics/Gynecology clerkship. Recognized for her excellence in teaching through various awards at Harvard Medical School and Columbia University, her most recent honor in 2012 is the Mount Sinai Institute of Medical Education Excellence in Teaching award. She was also a faculty member AOA inductee in 2010.
The Rossi editor-in-chief had a chance to sit down with Dr. Chen and discuss her philosophies on teaching, as well as her life as a physician, mother and book enthusiast.
Q: What attracted you to Mount Sinai?
I came here specifically for an administrative position in education. Prior to that, I was at Columbia University on an NIH grant, primarily doing research – 75% research, 25% clinical. Then I had a midlife crisis and decided I wanted to focus more on education. I’m very grateful to my chair Dr. Brodman for offering me the position and for supporting me in my endeavors.
Q: What was this midlife crisis?
I always knew I had a knack for teaching, even while I was a resident. But at that time, I had gotten advice that to advance in the academic world, you needed to be a clinical expert with productive research activities. So I went down that path first. I spent several years focusing on Obstetric Infectious Diseases, gathering clinical research skills, and performing studies. When I turned 40, I realized that the projects I enjoyed most were the ones I did with students and residents. I couldn’t get away from teaching.