Celebrating Women Physicians in the Twin Ports Area
Author: | October 11, 2021
The University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus has over 2,000 graduates pursuing family medicine and a plethora of other medical specialties. Many of them are women. To help celebrate Women in Medicine Month in September, four Twin Ports physicians shared why they love their work and how being a woman in medicine is impacting their community and patients.
Dr. Julie Reichhoff
Employer: Essentia Health-Lakewalk Clinic and St. Mary's Medical Center
Specialty: Family Medicine
Years in profession: 25
Past work experience: I originally joined Skyline Family Medical Center in 1996, a group owned by First Plan HMO out of Two Harbors, Minn. I practiced full-scope family medicine with inpatient and outpatient care, outpatient procedures, obstetrics and newborn care.
Current work experience: Our medical group was sold to Essentia Health in 2011. We had previously moved from Piedmont Heights in Duluth down to the Lakewalk to expand the clinic. Though I no longer provide inpatient care, I still practice obstetrics, doing deliveries and seeing newborns in the hospital.
What I like about my job: I love family medicine, my relationships with my long-term and new patients and delivering babies. I have great partners, which is why I have not left to join another practice, as this aspect of work is vitally important to my job satisfaction.
Challenges: The U.S. medical system is controlled, at least in part, by health insurance companies. Electronic Health Records are cumbersome and have added many hours to my typical work week.
Advice: I would strongly encourage family medicine as a rewarding specialty, though it is not flashy in the current medical system. I also recommend three days in the clinic as the perfect balance between work and home life, as it is not really 24-hour weeks with all the non-face-to-face care we provide. Clinic days are all-encompassing with little time for other activities after the work day.
Dr. Anne Schepers
Employer: Essentia Health, Duluth and Virginia, Minn.
Specialty: Obstetrics and Gynecology
Years in profession: 30 years
Past work experience: I worked full time in obstetrics and gynecology in Duluth, provided women’s health care, especially on labor and delivery, gynecologic surgery, menopause management and integrative women’s health. Since I worked in a teaching hospital, I worked daily with medical students and residents, which provided a rich, questioning/teaching atmosphere. In the past five years, I was involved in helping to establish a midwifery service at St. Mary’s Medical Center, which was in response to patient demand for these services.
Current work experience: I’m in the last year of my career and am working on a casual basis at Essentia Virginia in obstetrics and outpatient gynecology. I enjoy the different nature of rural medicine and am happy to be able to fulfill a need, as it’s difficult for rural hospitals to be fully staffed.
What I like about my job: Well, delivering babies of course! Also, accompanying women on their health journey — being there for them for many years, during some of their happiest and saddest moments. I also like advocating for women while helping them to realize their own amazing power and capacity in a world that really needs every one of them to bring forward their unique gifts.
Challenges: Health disparities and realizing the huge impact that social determinants of health have on women who live in the U.S. And of course, COVID, COVID, COVID.
Advice: “Physician, know thyself.” Seriously. Keep developing yourself in a courageous way; it’s the biggest gift that you can give to the people you love. Find colleagues who still love medicine after practicing it for a while and learn their secrets.
Dr. Kelly Greenleaf
Employer: Essentia Health
Specialty: Ob/Gyn - office, hospital, surgical, procedures and ER consults
Years in profession: 14 years
Past work experience: I had several jobs to get me through high school and college (nannying, waitressing, etc.) along with lots of volunteer work and mission trips. I was fortunate enough to be a part of both before, during and after medical school. I’ve been at my current job since I completed residency and plan to stay here until I retire.
Current work experience: Typically, I see patients in the clinic 2-3 days per week, do surgery weekly to every other week and take calls 1-2 times per week — it's hectic but I've figured out a really good balance.
What I like about my job: I love the energy my work gives me and the continued variety of what I do. I've really gotten to know patients and their families and have wonderful colleagues!
Challenges: It's cliche, but true — finding work/life balance is very difficult sometimes. My family is amazing, and I absolutely love spending my "downtime" with them traveling, camping, going to school functions, etc.
Advice: My advice is to make sure you make time for yourself and the rest of what fills your cup. Residency will kick your butt, but it will be worth it if this is what truly makes you happy! Once in practice, take a day off EVERY week and use ALL of your vacation time — you DESERVE IT!!!! We all find out (the hard way sometimes) that we are MORE than doctors; we are spouses and friends and parents and athletes and gardeners and seamstresses and travelers and cooks, etc. ENJOY being YOU - not just "doctor so-and-so."
Dr. Emily Anderson
Employer: Lake Superior Community Health Center
Specialty: Family Medicine
Years in profession: 14 years (17 including residency)
Past work experience: I worked in a small town private practice for five years after completing residency. Then, I moved to the Lake Superior Community Health Center, where I have been for almost nine years.
Current work experience: I provide outpatient primary care to all ages with a focus on ensuring access to those who may be underserved for any reason. We reduce barriers to wellness by integrating medical, behavioral and dental health care with social services that supports and addresses the social determinants of health.
What I like about my job: My work is meaningful. There are always new challenges. I like having a variety of skills used in my day-to-day practice from preventative care to office procedures to substance use treatment.
Challenges: Surviving in healthcare becomes more challenging all the time. The demands to do more with less continue to increase. We will need to bring creative new solutions to the structure and management of health care services to ensure we still find joy and balance in the work.
Advice: Think about what priorities are most important to you and set boundaries early to protect those priorities.