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Perinatology / Dean/St. Mary’s
Thinking back twenty years, is this what you thought you would be doing?
When I went to med school, I never thought I would do obstetrics. I sort of went into the rotation thinking, “Oh, I just have to get through these six weeks.” And I really, really enjoyed it. I think my experience being born prematurely definitely kind of intervened into that. I was born eight weeks early, so I made a connection with a lot of patients while on that rotation. [Editor’s note: Stafeil was born at St. Mary’s.]
What is one thing that few patients know about your job? I think a lot of patients probably don’t realize how many times we have to give bad news. A lot of patients, I think, in the waiting room feel that, “Oh, we’re just here to get cool pictures on the ultrasound.” Some patients don’t always understand why the wait times are a little bit longer and things like that, but unfortunately there are a lot of times that what is expected to be sort of a normal ultrasound or a normal pregnancy can change pretty quickly. And I think a lot of patients sort of take it for granted that while pregnancies usually are normal, very low-risk pregnancies can become high-risk pretty quickly.
How do you tell someone that there is a problem with a pregnancy? It’s not easy, but just being open, up front with them and being honest with what you’re seeing and what the implications are, and just spending the time that they need to talk about it. Unfortunately I can’t spend an hour with every patient going over it, but I think just sitting down with them and answering the immediate questions and being there for them in any way that you can be there.