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Career Choices

Posted Sep 25 2009 3:34pm

Growing up in a medical family can somewhat limit your career choices. My grandfather was a GP in Quincy, MA and did a lot of obstetrics. He was beloved by his patients and his office was actually in his big, white house on School St. Every morning he would have breakfast then walk across the entry hall to the big sliding doors that led to his waiting room. What a great commute! His patients paid as they could, sometimes with goods or services if they were short on cash. His son is a famous endocrinologist, Lewis Braverman. In fact, Uncle Lew wrote the book on the thyroid gland...literally. It is a huge textbook dedicated to that little gland that sits in your neck. My father is a general surgeon. Still working several days a week at the VA Outpatient Center in Boston after having closed his successful private practice after 35 years. There is only so much golf that one can play and my mother would pay the VA to let him come to work if they ever ask him to retire. My older brother, Mike, is also a general surgeon in a medium sized NC town south of Chapel Hill. Brother Steve is the CEO of Children's Hospital in Boston (the suburban campus in Waltham).

So not a lot of career options when you like science and people and come from a family like that: 3 generations of doctors.

In medical school at Duke I loved my rotation in Ob/Gyn and especially my elective in RE with Dr. Charles Hammond and Dr. Arthur Haney. However, my Dad really couldn't understand why I would choose OB. "In his day," he stated, "only the guys at the bottom of the class chose Ob/Gyn." And since I was not at the bottom of the class why choose it? "Besides," he said, "those guys only have 7 operations that they do and 2 of those are cut the right ureter and cut the left ureter." When I said that I was actually interested in RE he rolled his eyes a bit. "Not like your Uncle Lew I hope. He spent his whole life on a small gland with only 2 little arteries that I can take out in 5 minutes in the O.R."

Well, my Dad now understands what I do and seems pretty proud of his non-surgeon son. One of his best friends has triplet grandkids from IVF so he gets the concept of treating infertility. Of course, given the fact that the leading NYC fertility expert of the day told my parents in 1948 that my Mom would never have children (obviously prior to having her 3 sons) certainly warped his view of fertility physicians but that story has to wait until we discuss uterine malformations.

So although both of the people reading this blog know what an RE is and how one becomes an RE, here is my Question of the Day from the forthcoming book (buy before midnight tonight and get the Ginsu knife set for free).

6. What is a reproductive endocrinologist?

A reproductive endocrinologist (RE) is a physician who specializes in the treatment of reproductive disorders and infertility. To specialize as a reproductive endocrinologist, a physician undergoes 4 years of training in general obstetrics and gynecology following his or her completion of medical school. At the end of these 4 years of training (internship and residency), which includes exposure to normal and high-risk obstetrics, gynecology, gynecologic oncology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility, a physician must then apply for an additional 3-year fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. After completing these 7 years of training, the physician takes a series of written and oral examinations to become board certified in this specialty. Although not all practitioners of reproductive endocrinology and infertility have undergone formal fellowship-level training, the majority have, and this training includes both clinical and basic science experience. There are several professional organizations for physicians who are interested in the treatment of the infertile couple, including the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (SREI). Any physician who is interested in infertility may join ASRM, but members of SREI must be board eligible or board certified in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Both of these organizations maintain websites that allow patients to identify local specialists (www.ASRM. org;

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