Kellie L. Stecher, MD, is an obstetrician/gynecologist who spends the majority of her time in clinical practice at M Health Fairview Women’s Center in Edina, Minnesota.
Tell Us About Your Career Path as a Women in Medicine
I chose to do my OBGYN rotation first in my third year of medical school. I was confident that I didn’t want to do obstetrics/gynecology. However, on one of my first days, I was able to do a vaginal delivery, almost on my own, with a supervisor in the room. After that experience, I knew I loved the specialty. I really enjoy preventative health, helping diagnose and treat infertility issues, obstetrics, deliveries, and cesarean sections. In my current role, I have the time to pursue other passions in my professional life. I love teaching in every capacity. I am able to work with teenagers and help them through health education. I contribute to local news outlets and create awareness of women’s health issues and safety knowledge.
Recently, I had the honor of becoming Chair of Reproductive Medicine and Healthcare Equity for American Initiatives for Military Support or AIMS. Through this role I am hoping to create more awareness around the health equity concerns that our veterans have. There have long been disparities between the care of women and men in the military. I will be advocating for and working toward legislation to address some of the equity issues that have daunted healthcare. When the new legislature becomes active, I will be working to find a sponsor for a Right to Healthcare Equity bill, addressing the fact that individuals from all communities, races, genders, and our LGBTQ community all deserve quality and safe healthcare.
To follow my many passions, it’s taken—Passion, Persistence, and Determination—and the support of my family: Joe, Joseph, Addison, and my sister Kristen and her husband, Matt, who live close by have given me so much support and love. My friends have also been integral to keeping everything together for me. Their constant support has made it possible for me to accomplish my professional goals.
Do you Have Interests that You Gave Continued to Pursue Outside of Your Clinical Practice?
Launches Patient Care Heroes for Grieving Families of Covid-19
I am just launching a nonprofit organization. I am co-founder and president of Patient Care Heroes— reflecting a community of leaders and innovators who are willing to go the extra mile and put service ahead of their personal needs. This organization is being created with love and compassion as a way to provide assistance to the families and loved ones of physicians, nurses, medical assistants, dentists, EMS, who have died from Covid-19. The focus of this organization is to create a hub for grieving families. We have suffered a collective trauma and we need a place to grieve together as a nation. We are working to find volunteer services in order to help with mental health. In a later phase of launch, we hope to be raising funds for a memorial and for scholarship funding. We are aware that pandemics may happen in the future, or we may suffer healthcare provider losses for a variety of other reasons. For this reason, we hope this organization can continue to thrive and help loved ones far into the future.
In addition, I have written a memoir that I wrote in essay form for those of us with shorter attention spans these days, myself included. In this manuscript, I address abuse, assault, breastfeeding, pregnancy, postpartum mental health, patient stories, issues around medical training, and the pandemic. This is meant to inspire women and open other people’s eyes to the issues many face. I really believe that we need to be more open and authentic with each other. We have become isolated, not just by Covid-19, but because we run through life avoiding vulnerability. I am hoping we can start the dialogue with this book.
I am also going to be writing a chapter in a book that will be released in the summer 2021—titled, The Future Female Leader: Preparing Girls and Women to Lead the World. I am really excited about this project inspired by my 5-year-old daughter, as I want her to be able to pursue any and all of her goals in the future. I want to make sure she knows that she can do anything as long as she works hard, is a good person, and stays persistent in life.
I enjoy writing; my focus is to connect with women and to empower them to feel less alone with issues we all face. I have written several blogs at Kevinmd.com. In addition, I focus on the human side of medicine and bringing awareness to the things we all go through. I also have a medium page; I have contributed to the local newspapers, including Pioneer Press, Star Tribune, and I have also been featured in several magazines, including Glamour, Coruzant Technologies, and Insider. Beyond expressing myself in print, I host a podcast series, addressing women’s health issues and trying to promote education about safety.
What Challenges Have You Faced and Is There Any Advice to Share with Women in Medicine?
My primary passions revolve around improving my patient’s lives and establishing the Patient Care Heroes organization is a natural evolution of my work in medicine and patient care. It is so important to be able to help people who are struggling with loss. To be able to let them know that they are not alone and we are there to support them. I will also continue to work on gender equity and healthcare equity. These issues don’t feel like work to me, because they are a necessary fight to have, it doesn’t seem like there is a choice. These things wake me up in the morning and help me to continue to find ways I can fix the problems that we are dealing with in this country. When you are fighting for, not only what’s right, but what gets you fired up, you become fearless. That fearlessness can become the engine that drives you to do things you never thought imaginable.
I have struggled with the double standards that exist between men and women in medicine. I am hopeful that we can work to improve the culture of bullying, intimidation, and harassment that permeates interactions facing women physicians in the workplace. I am also optimistic that we will start to see more dynamic female leaders in healthcare. I am positive about this because the changes that I have seen on the national level. We will witness this attitude start to permeate through the culture.
I’ve learned that it is important to stay true to oneself. It is too easy to lose sight of who you are, and what you want to accomplish if your primary focus is worrying too much about what others think. Make sure you figure out what your passion is, and let your passions lead you into whatever adventures you choose professionally and personally.