As a gynecologic oncology doctor, Paola Gehrig, MD, cares for patients facing ovarian, cervical, and other cancers of the reproductive system.
Gynecologic oncologists are unique in the field of cancer care. These experts perform surgery and also provide chemotherapy and other types of cancer treatment.
In addition to caring for patients, Gehrig is chair of the UVA Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Meet a Charlottesville-Based Gynecologic Cancer Doctor
We asked Gehrig to answer our 7 quick questions.
1. Why did you become a doctor/provider?
I've never known a time when I wasn't going to be a doctor. My biggest role model growing up was my mom. I remember her going through residency and just handling it with such grace and taking care of me at the same time as a single mom. I just don't remember a time when I didn't want to be like her. She was inspiring.
2. Why did you choose to become a gynecologic cancer doctor?
As we go through medical training, we choose specialties for a variety of reasons. For me, there was one very specific defining moment when I was a 3rd-year medical student. I had been involved in a complex surgery with a faculty member, who was just an incredible surgeon. I remember it was late in the evening and we went up to make rounds. The patient that we went to see was having a very difficult time. My attending asked permission to sit on the edge of her bed and he held her hand. And at that moment, I decided that I wanted to do exactly what he was doing.
3. What’s one thing about your specialty that might surprise people?
I think the biggest thing that would surprise people about gynecologic oncology is that we are surgeons and we give chemo. That is a very, very unique thing in that most surgical oncologists, after the surgery's done, they then refer patients to medical oncology. Medical oncologists aren't surgeons. We have the opportunity to provide so many of the care needs for our patients. That longitudinal relationship is so very special.
4. What’s the most exciting thing/research happening in your field right now?
The most exciting thing in gynecologic oncology right now is the number of new treatments, the novel therapies that we have to treat our patients. We've had more new treatments for gyn malignancies in the last 2 years than we've had in the last 2 decades. It’s really, really exciting that we now have a lot of options for our patients. Here at UVA Health, we have so many clinical trials available for our patients that you really feel that we are advancing the science.
5. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. I attended the University of Florida in Gainesville for both undergraduate and medical school.
Facing Gynecologic Cancer?
Our experts offer compassionate care and the most advanced treatments.
6. Who is your inspiration or hero?
My mom. She is also a physician and has always been a wonderful role model for me.
7. What’s your favorite thing about working at UVA?
My favorite thing about working here is the people that I get to work with every day and the patients that we are so privileged to take care of. UVA is committed to putting our patients first and I see that time and time again.
Having had the honor of assisting on Gyn Oncology cases referred from my practice to Dr Gehrig during her time in Greensboro, NC, I am happy for UVA that she is there.
Her commitment to patient care was matched by her skills and compassion.