Natasha Kumar, MD
· Name: Natasha Kumar, MD
· Institution: University of Pennsylvania
· Title: MFM Fellow
· Medical School (if applicable): Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
· Residency (if applicable): Northwestern University
· Fellowship Training Institution (if applicable): University of Pennsylvania
Personal and Family Background:
Tell us about someone who had an influence on you as child.
My dad passed away while on a trip to a remote part of India when I was 12 years old. A few years later, I realized that his outcome may have been different had he been in our home, a few minutes away from a tertiary care center. That was when I decided I wanted to work on improving access to care. I go back to that foundational relationship for inspiration all the time.
Was there a mentor(s) and/or a patient who inspired you?
It’s hard to pick one mentor – I have had many generous, brilliant people help me along the way – but there is a singular patient who I met as a 2nd year resident on the antepartum service who made me want to become an MFM. She experienced PPROM at 23 weeks gestation and was diagnosed with superimposed severe preeclampsia around 26 weeks gestation. In one of our first few days of knowing each other, she had refused a transfer to our labor floor for sustained severe range blood pressures. That evening, we had a long conversation about her reasoning for refusing transfer to our labor floor and why the hospital was neither a safe nor comfortable place for her. She ultimately delivered around 30 weeks, and unfortunately her son only lived for a few minutes. I brought her flowers the next morning and we hugged and cried together. Independent of the outcomes we as MFMs can provide for patients, the relationships we build – the trust we develop, the understanding we grow to share – keep us all going. She taught me that the best thing I can do as a provider is to understand where my patients are coming from and what is most important to them about their care. I am so thankful for the grace that she provided me as a trainee and I think of her often.
How has your cultural background shaped you as an MFM?
Being a child of immigrants has foundationally shaped my relationships with patients. I know firsthand the fears that come with the uncertainty of visas – or lack thereof – and the struggles that come from English not being your first language. The moments where I am able to speak in Hindi or Spanish with my patients bring me so much joy because I can feel and see some of the ease they have in being freely able to communicate with your provider.
What role has SMFM played in your career?
I am relatively new to MFM but SMFM has already been integral to my career. From the first annual meeting I attended as a PGY-1 – where I could see my interests reflected in presentations at the fellows plenary – to the support offered to trainees through the Foundation, I am so appreciative of how SMFM brings our profession together to support each other as we try to improve care for pregnant people!