Member Spotlight

Doris Chou, MD

Geneva, Switzerland

Institution: World Health Organization

Title: Medical Officer

Medical School: UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson, Camden

Residency: Johns Hopkins/University of Pennsylvania

Fellowship Training Institution: University of Pennsylvania

Personal and Family Background:

Tell us about someone who had an influence on you as child.

I would have to say, my parents. They had very different “parenting” styles; my mother encouraged me to try anything and everything, and instilled fun into everything, while my father showed me what a strong work ethic could achieve. I suppose that my approach to life has both elements but even now, I remain in awe of what they were able to manage. They left their country and moved to the US, as a young couple; created their family space; and gave every opportunity to my brother and me. All starting from “scratch”.

What was your first job and how did it prepare you for your current position?

My first real job, was as a clerk in the local pharmacy. In terms of preparation for my current job? Perhaps, that is where I began to learn how to multitask!

Was there a mentor(s) inspired you?

I was fortunate to have had several mentors during my medical training.

From medical school, my preceptors in OB/GYN and pediatrics; inspired and encouraged me to apply for OB/GYN residency.

My preceptors in trauma surgery taught me that there is room for kindness even amid chaos.

How did the diversity (or lack of diversity) in your medical educators shape your training?

Again, I was fortunate to have a diverse set of medical faculty during my training from medical school, all the way through fellowship.

MFM Practice:

How has your cultural background shaped you as an MFM?

I was born and raised in New York. Growing up, most of our neighbors all spoke different languages and would refer to grandparents who lived in other countries. I did not appreciate just how multi-cultural my upbringing was until leaving for college. In retrospect, what a gift it was to be surrounded by so many languages and cultures! When I was practicing as an MFM, I believe that this background helped to navigate any differences between colleagues and patients. Especially with patients, these experiences helped me to recognize that not everyone comes from the same background- and so if you really want to make a difference, it’s important to understand and respect their background, as it informs their actions and behaviors. Actually, this last point is salient to my current work as well. Every day at work, I interact with people from different countries and cultures. And regardless of our backgrounds, we have a common goal- knowing the “who we are” means we can complement each other and do things better together.

Tell us about one of your most memorable patient encounters.

I was asked to provide a consultation for a woman admitted to the surgical service with an unrecognized pregnancy. I was there a short while later when she gave birth to a healthy baby girl. She told me afterwards that she had feared she might never have children. So the moment we told her about the pregnancy and that she was estimated to be somewhere around 36 weeks of gestation, she didn’t quite believe us until the moment she gave birth.

Tell us about an MFM colleague who has been an important part of your MFM career. 

I would have to say my co-fellows- they were incredible support through fellowship and beyond.

What role has SMFM played in your career?

With SMFM, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to provide mentorship and contribute to the Global Health Committee.

In your spare time:

If you had to live one day in your life over and over (think Groundhog Day 1993 Movie), which would you pick?

Does it have to be only one day? I try to live without regret- so there is no need for “do-overs”!

SMFM Mad Libs:

I’m excited to wake up every day and practice Maternal Fetal Medicine because…it really matters.

If I could solve one problem in MFM it would be…inequity.

The best day I ever had as an MFM was…when my (pre-conceptional) patient with complicated renal disease gave birth to a healthy baby at term (sometime after her renal transplant).

The hardest day I ever had as an MFM was...when the baby of my patient with DKA died soon after birth. It was devastating.

I might be the only MFM… trying to complete a “Swiss Triathlon” (Ski, surf, and fondue). I’m not sure I will make it, but it is fun trying.

My MFM colleagues would be shocked to know...that despite my fear of heights, I love being in the mountains and even dare to try and ski these days!