Luissa Kiprono, MD, MPH
San Antonio, Texas
Institution: Texas Perinatal Group, San Antonio, OBSTETRIX/PEDIATRIX
Title: Practice Medical Director; Consultant, Maternal & Fetal Medicine
Medical School: University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNECOM)
Residency: Wright State University/Wright Patterson Medical Center (OB-GYN)
Fellowship: University of Mississippi Medical Center (MFM)
Master’s Degrees: Biomedical Science, University of Mississippi Medical Center (MB MS) and Physician Executive MBA, Haslam College of Business, University of Tennessee (PE MBA)
Tell us about someone who had an influence on you as child. I would say, I was born again at 19. I spent the first 19 years of my life in communist Romania, the most luminous years of my young life. I was an only child, raised by my mom and grandparents. My childhood priest, Padre, had a great influence on my upbringing, both spiritually and by instilling in me the values I cherish today: self-discipline, tenacity, and consistency in both planning for the goal and meticulously executing the plan.
RO: Aș putea spune că m-am născut din nou la 19 ani. Am petrecut primii 19 ani din viața în România comunistă, cei mai luminoși ani din viața mea tânără. Am fost singurul copil la casă, crescut de mama și bunicii mei. Preotul copilăriei mele, Padre, a avut o mare influență asupra creșterii mele, atât din punct de vedere spiritual, cât și prin insuflarea în mine a valorilor pe care le prețuiesc, autodisciplină, tenacitate, consecvență, atât în planificarea obiectivului, cât și în executarea minuțioasă a planului ce mi-l pun în gînd.
What was your first job and how did it prepare you for your current position? I landed my first job as a cashier at a supermarket in Nashua, New Hampshire - De Moulas MarketBasket. When I immigrated to U.S., I spoke Romanian, French, and German; English was new for me. This job did not prepare me for anything that was about to unfold in my life during my next 33 years in America.
Was there a mentor who inspired you? My role models are the people in my life who simply believed in me, saw what I am made of, and instilled in me to BELIEVE in myself; that no matter what, I can accomplish just about anything, if I want it bad enough. Now, anybody can say that, but walking that talk is truly a different story altogether. During my undergraduate years, Dr. Levine helped me overcome my “foreigner” shyness when I was learning English as a fourth language. Sgt. McDaniel, the Air Force recruiter who presented and supported my HPSP application, saw me as one of a “whole person” and not just a GPA or MCAT score. Dr. Martin mentored me in developing my subspecialty skills through my MFM fellowship program. Mr. Clark saw the value in me as a rising leader in my present organization. And finally, my husband Charles, who never hesitates in his enthusiasm and encouragement in whatever life events come to pass.
How has your cultural background shaped you as an MFM? As a daughter of a Romanian political dissident, a refugee, and an immigrant to America, I have had a very “non-traditional” pathway for my career. I worked a multitude of jobs - at times three at a time - in order to survive: cashier, manager, interpreter, counselor for mentally ill homeless, banking and real estate, political campaign manager, researcher, USAF officer, medical humanitarian missionary, motivational speaker in Women’s Health, Empowerment and Gender Equality, and I can confidently say that, YES, all the above contributed in my becoming the MFM I am today.
Tell us about one of your most memorable patient encounters. I was on call one Friday afternoon for my former hospital in Southern Indiana. As I was finishing my clinic charts for the day, the transport phone rang. A rural ED was calling to ask for a urgent transport of a woman who appeared to be of term gestation and in active labor. Only, she was non-English speaking, she spoke only… Romanian. What are the chances, right? I accepted the transport and air-evacuated her to our institution. When she arrived, the anesthesiologist called me in panic, saying that he could not communicate with her, nor with her husband to proper counsel her, so I proceeded to the bedside, helped the L&D team get her comfortable, and counseled for her neuraxial anesthesia. She proceeded to deliver precipitously, and as the OB hospitalist was tied up with a STAT case in OR, I became the lucky gal to “catch” the baby, as well. Afterwards, I found out that this woman, her husband, and four children lived in a van that now sat broken in a shop until they could crop up enough money to get it fixed, They worked temporarily in one place to make enough money and moved on to the next. I put together a quick “help-is-on-the-way” drive for the newborn and the family before she and the baby left the hospital. They were so grateful!
Tell us about an MFM colleague who has been an important part of your MFM career. When times are tough in one’s personal life, they can reflect in their professional life, as well. At a time when I faced immense personal and familial challenges, my program director, Dr. JB, was the person who did not jump to conclusions or pass judgement. Instead, he reminded me that’s okay to be vulnerable and ask for help, through open communication and empathy.
If you could live one day over and over again, what would it be. Truly, there is no one day in my life I would like to re-live over and over again. The spontaneity and uniqueness of each and every new day my life brings is worth wondering: “What’s next?”
I’m excited to wake up everyday and practice Maternal-Fetal Medicine...because the difference I make in my patients’ lives.
If I could solve one problem in MFM it would be...the ever-growing maternal and neonatal mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa.
I might be the only MFM who...was chosen for the Romanian gymnastics team...and turned it down.
My MFM colleagues would be shocked to know...that I have completed several half Ironman events as well as a full Ironman (and plan on more).