Reaching Her Potential
When Valerie Williams, M.D., joined LSU’s OB/GYN team, she had a few big ideas for the practice. But as a newcomer, she was a little hesitant. Then Dr. Amy Young, the department chairman, set her straight.
“She saw a lot of potential in me that I hadn’t realized myself,” Dr. Williams says. “She really pushed me outside of my comfort zone and also served as a great role model.”
She also gave Dr. Williams a mission statement. “She said, ‘My goal is to improve the lives of women and their families in Louisiana, and I will do whatever it takes to make that happen.’ That really stuck with me, and I’ve lived by that motto since I’ve been here,” Dr. Williams says. “It keeps pushing me forward.”
And so Dr. Williams was emboldened to expand in-office procedures. LSU is not aware of any other group in the city offering these procedures as an outpatient option, which can manage an array of gynecological concerns like hysteroscopic IUD removal, biopsy, cervical dysplasia and miscarriage, right in the office, with less anesthesia.
“We can even handle outpatient sterilization, which is great because women don’t have to take a lot of time off work,” Dr. Williams says. “They can get the procedure in half a day and be home in time to pick up their kids.”
Dr. Williams feels fortunate that her training prepared her to feel comfortable and confident doing a wide variety of outpatient procedures, and she credits LSU with its forward-thinking in purchasing the equipment. “They’ve been amazing and the [new department] chairman, Dr. Lisa Peacock, has been incredibly supportive of it.”
In fact, the entire team has been a perfect fit, she says.
“I have the best practice ever,” she says. “I am so fortunate. I’ve practiced a lot of places so I’ve seen a lot of groups. This is this first place I’ve worked that I’ve truly liked and trusted everyone I work with. I’d trust them with a family member.”
Dr. Williams says she isn’t sure exactly how much the in-office procedures have contributed, but the practice’s patient volume has enjoyed a dramatic increase — probably double over the last four years.
Other trends in the specialty: “Reproductive health issues are another one of my biggest focuses,” Dr. Williams says. “Today there are more options for contraception and family planning such as long-acting, reversible, very few contraindications and incredibly effective. Also, just making the access to them easier … we’ve been able to work with Medicaid to assure adequate coverage.”
On practicing academic medicine in New Orleans: “After my residency, I wasn’t sure exactly if I wanted to do academic or private practice, so I took a year to do a little bit of both,” she says. “I spent six months in Rochester, New York, and six months in New Mexico. But I’m a Southern girl, and I was ready to come back.”
Most memorable patient: “I had a patient having fibroids with really significant pain and bleeding, and she had prior surgery so we were really concerned about scar tissue issues,” Dr. Williams says. “The surgery was very challenging but went well, and the patient was so happy afterwards. She felt so much better … she could spend time with family; go out; and just enjoy her life and not worry about pain and bleeding. It’s wonderful to see those outcomes.”
Best compliment ever: “I had the husband of one of the women whose baby I delivered say, ‘It’s really sad, I have more of a relationship with you than I do my own doctor,’’ Dr. Williams says. “There are unique and special relationships in OB/GYN that you don’t get to experience in other fields.”
On choosing medicine: “Becoming a doctor was actually plan B for me,” she says. “I was a ballerina for a very long time. I started dancing when I was 3 years old, joined the Houston Ballet Academy when I was 7, went to a performing arts high school. Ballet really prepared me for medical school. It really does require so much dedication. When my friends were going to play over the weekend, I was going to ballet class. There was a lot of perfection and practice, and an awareness of health and body and how to best take care of it. When it came time to decide, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to make a long-term career in dance. Thankfully, my high school had really good academics … my science teachers inspired me.”
St. Charles Ave. Multi-Specialty
3700 St. Charles Ave., 5th Floor
New Orleans, LA 70115
Medical School: University of Texas, Southwestern, Dallas
Residency: University of Colorado, Denver, OB/GYN
Board Certified: American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology