It was the early fall of 1996 and I was a third year Obstetrics and Gynecology resident at an inner city hospital in New York. Our administrators felt that at some point in our training, we would need to get an idea of what private medicine looked like. In the spirit of our professional development, they arranged for each of us to spend several months at a private hospital in one of New Jersey’s wealthiest counties. That is how I came to know Nadine. Although we were there to learn about the nuances of practicing medicine in a “for-profit” affluent institution, we were typically relegated to the clinic that catered to the less wealthy residents of its surrounding counties. One Tuesday morning, I found myself assigned to the High Risk Obstetrics Clinic, and working under the tutelage of its chairperson, a 40-something, no-nonsense, African American woman, who I will just call Dr. Epps. It amazed me how many young women had medical problems that had the potential to kill them or their babies. These women had diseases ranging from lupus to heart disease and renal failure. The clinic was always busy, but very well run; and Dr. Epps was always on-point. Towards the end of our clinic session, a patient presented who was pregnant with her first child, but had been referred to High Risk OB due to a...Read More
Jaishree Ellis, MD
Dr. Ellis was born and raised in New York City. She attended the University of Pennsylvania where she received her undergraduate degree in English in 1990. From there, she went on to medical school at the University of Illinois and graduated with her MD in 1994. Her residency training was in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Harlem Hospital Center of the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, and was completed in 1998. She is a Board Certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist and has had the opportunity to practice medicine and be of service to patients of different ethnicities and socioeconomic groups. Some of the work that she feels has had the most impact has been with women who have come from traditionally underserved communities.
She has also made the idea of empowering patients through knowledge an important part of her career. For 18 years, she has delivered speeches, workshops and lectures to her patients as well as to the general public. Her presentations have been on women’s health and well being with a focus on helping women to make the best healthcare choices for themselves. She has spoken at churches, schools, libraries, hotels and restaurants. She has also written articles in women’s health aimed at delivering information to the community.
For 2 years, she served as a Medical Correspondent to an ABC affiliate station in East Texas. Dr. Ellis speaks English as well as Spanish, and has had the opportunity to chair the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Houston North West Medical Center.
She continues to seek out opportunities to make a difference in the lives of the women that she serves.
My life’s dream was to become a physician. Many years ago, I was blessed and able to see that dream come to fruition. At that time, my desire to be a physician rested in the challenge of it; the ability to be all that I could be. I planned to do the best job possible, but in retrospect, I realize that my motives were very much about what I wanted and who I wanted to be. I cannot tell you that I gave a great deal of thought to the lives that I would impact. I did not understand that providing a service to women was not the same thing as serving women. I did not understand that despite the status, respect (and sometimes grandeur) that are awarded to physicians, in its truest essence, medicine is a journey of service. I did not know the path that lay before me, and that at the end of that path, in order to do the best job possible, I would have to develop a servant’s heart.
It took some time, experience and life’s lessons in order for me to come to this awareness.
In the many years since my medical school graduation, I have had the privilege of meeting the health care needs of many women. I have held the honor of being their physician, advocate, and on many occasions, their confidant. What I have learned from working with the many women who entrusted their health and their lives to me, was that there are a few things that most patients need, which transcend conventional medical care. I believe that most patients need: a “safe” place in which to share their concerns (without judgment) as they relate to their medical histories, lifestyles and exposures; a place to come and receive information that will empower them to make the best decisions possible regarding their health and well-being; a place in which their spirits can be fed, as well as their physical selves, as spiritual fitness indelibly impacts physical health.
I have had the opportunity to offer women this safe haven; this place of empowerment and selfawareness; this place that teaches and reminds them that they must learn and practice selfcare; that there is a difference between selfishness and self-preservation; and that in order to live our lives abundantly, we must be able to distinguish between the two.
In this very fast-paced world in which we live, we receive so many messages, both overt and surreptitious, that we must “…do it all…”. We must have it all, otherwise we don’t measure up. As women, we are evolutionarily created to “build the nest”, nurture our young and keep our homes in order. However, for many women who have chosen jobs outside of their homes, there is a constant struggle to find balance with our personal lives, professional endeavors and civic responsibilities. Technology affords us the opportunity to accomplish tasks and goals more rapidly than we once did. But, what do we do with the extra time that technology has granted us? We often fill our plates until they are overrun, so that there is no longer extra time in our schedules and in our lives. In doing this, we sometimes lose our way, and forget what matters most. We tend to address our needs last, if at all; and in so doing, we cheat ourselves and those around us.
What I have learned through my patients and their experiences, as well as some hard won experiences of my own, is that I can only be my best self when I have taken care of myself, body and soul. If I fail to do those things, I will never be the mother, the daughter, the friend, sister, niece or physician that God intended for me to be.
I believe that a part of God’s will for me is to advocate for and teach the women that I serve; to help them to have a more global perspective of all of the factors that impact their health; to learn not to compartmentalize their physical health, and ignore their spiritual and emotional needs. These elements of who we are, are intrinsically linked to one another. And I believe that God desires for me to address the whole being who sits on my examining table or submits to surgery at my hand. I believe that He placed me here so that I can remind her to care for her whole self.
Certainly, I can offer definitive care for medical problems for some of my patients; for others, I can help them to manage lifelong and chronic illnesses. However, the greatest impact that I can have on the women that I serve is in helping them to nurture their own spirits as they tho about tending to their physical needs.
This blog will allow me yet another opportunity to serve others. It will permit me to place an unconventional spin on how we tend to approach health care; to highlight the lesser known elements that can have a profound effect upon how long and how well we live.
My prayer for the reader is that she is blessed with longevity of life, serenity of spirit and fulfillment of existence. If I can help her to achieve even the smallest fraction of those things, then I believe that I am carrying out the will that my God has for me.
Respectfully, Jaishree Ellis, MD
Articles by Jaishree Ellis, MD
At first glance, this title appears to trivialize the significance and impact of pregnancy. It seems to liken it to an arts and crafts endeavor or a do-it-yourself project. If that is your opinion, please take a moment to reflect on this. Think about the preparation that we often place into a decoupage object d’art or remodeling a room. We go through the steps of educating ourselves about all of the time we will need; the space and environment needed; we may even have a special budget. Will we need an extra set of hands? Which ingredients and/or tools...Read More
“Parents ought to make sure their children are vaccinated. Do we need to get into any detail on that?” [Jeb] Bush said bluntly in a speech before the Detroit Economic Club. “Parents have a responsibility to make sure their children are protected. Over and out.” ...Read More
“… Deck the halls with boughs of holly…” “…’tis the season to be jolly…” Fall ushers in the festivities and grand anticipation of the holiday season. For most of us, it is a fairly joyous time. But, along with pumpkin pies, holiday gifts and egg nog, it also heralds another season in which many of us will rejoice; to which some of us will be entirely oblivious; and to which others will gnash our teeth. That season is known as “open enrollment”. For those of you familiar with insurance plans and how to obtain them, you know that this...Read More
The recent mass violence and tragedies that have befallen our country are in the forefront of our minds and those of our fellow countrymen. Whether you believe that “Black Lives Matter”, “Blue Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter”, I don’t think that you can argue that these events have affected you in a deep and disturbing way. I bear witness to all manner of discussion and debate about what has been going on and who is to blame. At times I ﬁnd myself a participant in the discourse, but the only things that most of us have been discussing...Read More