Meet our Fellows: Interview with Graduated Fellow Renee Mestad

Dr. Renee Mestad is currently an Assistant Professor at the SUNY Upstate Medical University Department of Ob-Gyn. Below, she discusses her fellowship experiences and the impact they’ve had on her career.

Graduation Year: 2010

Fellowship Research Topic: Association of age and LARC method choice in the Contraceptive Choice Project.

Global Health Placement Location: Basic Health International in El Salvador, developed by Dr. Miriam Cremer, former FP fellow.  We trained local rural providers in VIA and cryotherapy.

  1. Why did you join the Fellowship in Family Planning?
    “I was in private practice for 5 years when I realized I was not satisfied with my experience and frustrated by the ambivalence of my patients toward pregnancy.  I wanted to better understand why American women appeared uninterested in actively managing their fertility.  I also wanted to have more impact on women's healthcare, beyond my individual patients.”
  1. What did you find most valuable about the Fellowship?
    “I learned a skill that, sadly, few physicians know how to perform.  Fellowship demystified research and academic medicine for me.  I also developed the skills and gumption to make noise for my patients who don't have a voice in the news and government.  Lastly, I became part of a cooperative and supportive network that I don't think any other subspecialty of Ob-Gyn has.”
  2. What do you like most about your current job?
    I teach new doctors a skill that, sadly, still too few physicians know how to perform; but I know every year, that number is fewer.  I enjoy the variety of academic practice, direct patient care, teaching students and residents, sharing in their experience when they master a new skill (any skill, not just D+E).  My work feels meaningful every day; my husband commented that I'm busier and more tired than when I was in private practice, but am much happier.  And I love being part of a community that believes it can change the world; that idealism was something I thought we all lost as we aged and became more responsible. “
  3. What would you tell someone who is considering whether or not they should apply to the Fellowship?
    “Tenacity is our most important characteristic. An ability to play well with others is our second.  We hear a lot of "no" most often for stupid, irrational reasons. It is frustrating, particularly when we know we're right. If you can keep an eye on the big picture and acknowledge each victory, regardless of how small, as a victory, then you will begin a very rewarding career.”
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