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Meet the Women in Medicine at GBMC: Joan Blomquist, MD

September 23, 2022
Dr. Joan Blomquist is the Chair of the Department of Gynecology at GBMC HealthCare. She received her medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine and completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh. After completing a fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery at GBMC, she stayed and has been at GBMC for the past 26 years. Her primary area of research interest is the impact of childbirth on the pelvic floor, and she is also actively involved in global health work.

Joan Blomquist, MD, Chair, Dept. of Gynecology, GBMC
Joan Blomquist, MD, Chair, Dept. of Gynecology, GBMC
Take yourself back. You got your acceptance letter to medical school. Where are you? How are you feeling? What are you most excited about?
I was in college in Iowa studying chemistry. I really thought I wanted to be a chemistry professor/researcher for most of my college years and decided late that my real passion was medicine. I was very relieved when I got my letter of acceptance that I was going to be able to follow my newfound passion.

What led you to a career in healthcare? What led you to your chosen discipline?
I love science and studying how our bodies work (or don't work). I really enjoy trying to figure out what is going on with a patient and how best to help them. It is sort of like being a detective.

Alongside caring for patients, what is one other thing you love about your role?
Teaching—I really enjoy teaching my patients about their conditions and treatment options as well as working with medical students, residents, and fellows. I feel part of our obligation as physicians is to train the next generation of providers. In addition to teaching urogynecology, I also enjoy trying to share some historical aspects of medicine and the importance of how we interact with our patients and others.

What informs your leadership style? What one skill would you recommend a future female leader in medicine cultivate?
I try to lead by example. I think female leaders in particular need to find the work/life balance that works for them. Once you find that balance, you can model how you really can have the best of both worlds!

At GBMC, our vision is to take care of patients as if they were our own loved ones. Who are you picturing when you care for patients?
As my role is to take care of women of all ages, I picture my mom, my aunts, my sisters, and all my nieces.

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your professional career?
My happy patients and my teaching awards. I am also very proud of my work with the International Organization for Women, which is a nonprofit organization that provides care for women with fistula in Rwanda.

What has helped you navigate challenges or barriers to achieving your success?
Patience, persistence, a supportive family, and loving what I do. Having a passion for your career is vital!

What do you do to decompress?
Run, swim, hang out with my family and dogs.

What do you think the future of medicine looks like for women?
I think women will continue to make up more and more of the physician workforce. We have certainly seen that in Obstetrics and Gynecology—82% of ob-gyn residents are now female. As a result, we are starting to see more of an emphasis on the importance of work/life balance and physician wellness. We need to embrace these initiatives to improve our quality of life, which we know also means we will provide better quality and more compassionate care for our patients. It is a win-win situation.
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