How to Counsel Patients about Immunizations

In recent years, we’ve made great strides in encouraging vaccination in pregnant women. During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, influenza vaccination rates in pregnant women increased from 15% to around 47%. Since then, rates have been sustained around 50%, increasing to 53% in the 2013-14 flu season. However, there are still patients who choose not to be vaccinated, possibly due to misinformation about vaccines.

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Help Close the Gap for Women on World AIDS Day

December 1 is World AIDS Day, an opportunity to bring awareness to the fight against HIV and AIDS. This year, the focus of the UN AIDS campaign is “closing the gap,” which means ­providing prevention, treatment, care, and support services to all people.

Poster_ClosetheGAPWomen, particularly young women and pregnant women, are often more at risk for and more affected by HIV. Most cases of HIV infection in women are diagnosed in the reproductive years. According to UN AIDS, in 2013, almost 60% of all new HIV infections among people aged 15–24 occurred among adolescent girls and young women.

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Collaborating with Nurse Practitioners

November 9-15 is National Nurse Practitioner Week, an event designed to recognize the contributions that nurse practitioners (NPs) make to our health care system. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), there are more than 192,000 NPs practicing in the US today, approximately 8% of whom focus on women’s health.

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Protecting the Patient-Physician Relationship: Why Ob-Gyns Need to Talk With Patients About Gun Safety

In order to deliver the best health care, ob-gyns must develop strong relationships with our patients. We need to discuss sensitive issues in the exam room, including sexual health, family planning, mental health, and domestic violence concerns. Keeping the line of communication unhindered allows physicians to provide the needed information to keep patients healthy.

That’s why a Florida law called the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, or the “physician gag law,” is so troubling. Continue reading

Improving Women’s Health through Vaccinations

As ob-gyns, we are entrusted with protecting women’s health, including providing preventive health care services. During an annual well-woman visit, each of us has an opportunity to discuss many topics: contraception, reproductive health, cardiovascular risk factors, healthy eating, exercise, smoking cessation, and more. It’s also an important time to discuss and provide necessary immunizations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and ACOG recommend vaccinations for adults throughout life. However, data from its National Health Interview Survey show that adults are not getting the immunizations they need. Continue reading

Getting Low-Income Women the Primary Care They Need

The value of the Medicaid program in ensuring care for low income women and families cannot be overstated. Nearly one out of every five woman in the US (19%) is insured by Medicaid. Yet the importance of the Medicaid program is undercut by the current biased payment system. Continue reading

Those Who Ignore History Are Doomed to Repeat It

For most of my career, I have been able to care for women without fear of major complications or death from abortion. However, I have not forgotten those days when safe abortion was generally unavailable. I was delighted when I delivered my first baby in 1968. But at that time in our history, the exciting events of bringing babies into this world were often countered by the tragedies of illegal abortion. Continue reading

Protecting Women’s Access to Birth Control

Ob-gyns know the critical role contraception plays in preventive care for women. When patients need a prescription for contraception, we expect that they will be able to fill it without hassle. Unfortunately for many women, that isn’t the case. All too often, pharmacists insert their own personal beliefs into the health care equation, refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control or emergency contraception. Continue reading

The Urgent Need to Reform Graduate Medical Education Funding

This year there were over 20,000 graduates of US medical schools who applied to the National Resident Matching Program. Many of them, including over 100 who applied to ob-gyn, were without a residency position on Match Day.

It’s no surprise. While the number of US medical school graduates is growing through increased class sizes and new medical schools, the number of graduate medical education (GME) residency slots has not increased proportionately. Indeed, there has been no significant increase in the number of obstetrics and gynecology resident positions since the mid-1990’s. Continue reading