New residency program addresses OB/GYN shortage
[5 min read]
In this article:
- A leading-edge program at Swedish allows residents to forge their own pathways during residency training.
- The values-driven, community-oriented oriented program lets young physicians choose the specialties based on their own areas of passion and interest.
- Community support and our generous donors whelp ensure that this program will survive.
Research is another area of mutual advancement where Swedish’s depth and breadth supports residents. Residents will, in turn, impact the system in areas that interest them, like menopause, healthy aging and better outcomes for all patients. In this area and others, residents appreciate being a small group and entering on the ground floor. “Some of the highlights so far have been supportive faculty, a wonderful community of residents and amazing surgical opportunities,” says resident Brittany Bear, who mentions that the operating room is where she’s happiest.
From puberty to menopause and beyond, reproductive health to family planning, the medical specialty of obstetrics and gynecology does so many things for so many people. It’s hard to quantify the potential of these practitioners to increase thriving as they support patients with education and better outcomes throughout their lives.
Given the importance of these providers, it becomes even more critical to ensure that we have enough OB/GYN physicians regionally and throughout the U.S. and to equip them with future-ready training and experiences. “The need for more programs from a national standpoint is profound, especially as the country is grappling with reproductive rights,” says OB/GYN Residency Program Director Suzanne Peterson, M.D. “Nationally, only 50 percent of counties have an OB/GYN, and there’s only been one residency program across Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.”
Swedish’s newest residency program, which trains physicians just out of medical school, doubles that capacity. Now reaching the end of its first year, the program builds on all the momentum of dedicated caregivers delivering many of the region’s babies and supporting patients throughout their lives with the Women’s Wellness and Specialty GYN Services.
Modeled after the Cleveland Clinic, the program is only the second in the U.S. to have a designated tracking program that lets residents choose their pathway. This means they have increasing elective blocks of time throughout their four residency years where they decide the focus, allowing for a total of six months of training they intentionally choose.
The opportunities within our network are vast. Residents might choose extra training in such areas as gynecology oncology, surgery, addiction or perinatal psychiatry. Beyond our system, we can connect residents with opportunities and partnerships with the University of Washington, Washington State University and more for practicing in rural areas or exploring another area of the specialty. “They can create their own adventure,” says Dr. Peterson. “Having this kind of ownership and control makes for happier physicians practicing what gives them joy.”
Another aspect that makes the program unique is a mutual choosing that occurs based on the program’s and residents’ shared desire to move the field forward. “We’re looking for people with more flexibility than most and creative ideas on how to make change,” says Dr. Peterson. “Before joining the program, they have been leaders and changemakers and want to be a part of something new.”
“Throughout undergrad and during my medical training, I’ve had to make my own pathways.” says resident Dominique Dixon, who looks forward to providing abortion care, family planning, contraceptive support and gender-affirming hormone treatment. “It’s exceedingly hard to practice in this field. There are so many difficult things we see, people in a lot of difficult situations, and all the political issues—it’s a high-stress environment. This program fosters people’s interests and what they love in this specialty.”
Our commitment to the future
While Swedish is not a traditional teaching hospital, you might be surprised at how many doctors and nurses we train across dozens of specialties—from general surgery to family medicine. Through our residency and fellowship programs, we continually evolve toward our mission of improving the health and well-being of every patient we care for and the vision of health for a better world.
Current residency and fellowship programs:
- Addiction Medicine Fellowship
- Colon and Rectal Surgery Fellowship
- Family Medicine/Cherry Hill Residency
- Family Medicine/Rural Training Program Residency
- Family Medicine/First Hill Residency
- General Surgery Residency
- Geriatric Medicine Fellowship
- Sports Medicine Fellowship
- Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency (new in 2022)
- General Practice Dentistry
- Podiatric Surgical Residency
- Minimally Invasive Colon & Rectal Surgery Fellowship
- Minimally Invasive Thoracic Fellowship
- Minimally Invasive Foregut Fellowship
- Advanced Hospital Medicine Fellowship
- Advanced Obstetrics Fellowship
- Advanced Pelvic Surgery Fellowship
- Bergman Draper Oslund Udo Thoracic Surgery Research Fellowship
- Robotic Urology Fellowship
- Minimally Invasive Spine (Neurosurgery and Orthopedic)
- Skull Base
- Interventional Spine
- General Neurosurgery
Structural heart fellowship
Supporting growth and renewal
At its essence, this effort has been about visionary faculty educators building a much-needed values-driven, community-oriented program. “One of the silver linings of COVID-19 was having the time and space to build something more powerful than anything we could do individually,” says Dr. Peterson. “We talked about our hopes and dreams for renewal and restarting after living through the past three years and we’re thinking of all the things we love in our field and the amazing things to come as we’re growing our program’s family.”
Community support will ensure this program can continue to expand and thrive. Dr. Peterson has a vision for the program that not only includes upgraded surgical training equipment, but also opportunities to advance social and reproductive justice, health quality, and equity through the Office of Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (OHEDI). “For example, Swedish has a pretty amazing partnership with Meharry Medical College,” says Dr. Peterson. “We would like to develop more rotations for Meharry students in the OB/GYN realm, which requires housing and travel support to get students here.”
“This program is special,” says Dominique, who recently reached the milestone of 100 deliveries serving as the primary caregiver. “Many people focus on the drawbacks of joining a new program without years and years of doing the same thing, but I’m grateful we get to practice in a new environment.”
Meanwhile, the momentum is just starting, and the community is growing. “It’s been intimate this year with six residents, but it’s a four-year program, so next year we’ll have 12, then 18 and then 24,” says Dr. Peterson.
Learn more and find a provider
Every year, more babies are born at Swedish than at any other health system in western Washington. Swedish has three birth centers — First Hill, Issaquah and Edmonds — making it convenient for people who live or work in the Seattle, Eastside and North End areas. Swedish patients can take classes, meet other families, get help with lactation and go for new parents and well-baby checkups at The Lytle Center for Pregnancy & Newborns at our First Hill birth center. You can also get expert advice there and help with wellness.
If you need a gynecologist, women's health specialist or primary care doctor, Swedish is here for you. Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult a doctor virtually, you have options. Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory.
Join our Patient and Family Advisory Council.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.