Paola A. Gehrig, MD joined UVA School of Medicine on June 27, 2022 as the chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She came to UVA from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. Dr. Gehrig obtained her medical degree from the University of Florida, completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at UVA, and fellowship in gynecology oncology at UNC. She specializes in gynecologic oncology, with expertise on advanced laparoscopy and robotic-assisted surgery.
Read our interview with Dr. Gehrig to learn why she chose her specialty, her departmental goals, and the favorite part of her job!
Q. Why did you choose the UVA School of Medicine Department of OB/GYN?
A. I completed my residency in OB/GYN at UVA in 1997 and it seems like just yesterday and like a lifetime ago. I was so very fortunate to come back as chair of this Department which I credit with really setting the tone of my career and launching my academic career. Since arriving in June 2022, I have found a new reason every week to be so pleased with my decision.
Q. Why academic medicine?
A. As a medical student at the University of Florida, I was exposed to some amazing educators and role models. I collected a new group of mentors and sponsors during my residency and then during my Gynecologic Oncology fellowship at UNC. There were many times they could have taken the easier path, but they did not; they taught and mentored me. I want to give back to the next generation the same way that they leaned in to my education — paying it forward one day at a time.
Q. Why did you choose your specialty?
A. I remember the very day that I decided that I wanted to be a gynecologic oncologist. I was a third-year medical student on my rotation and the attending physician was an amazing surgeon, educator, and one of the most compassionate humans I have ever met. It was 9 p.m. after a long day and he sat on the edge of his patient’s bed and held her hand. I will never forget that moment. I have not wavered from my decision since.
Q. What are some goals you would like to achieve during your time at UVA SOM?
A. We have a fantastic department that excels clinically and is composed of amazing educators. However, we have not had the opportunity to develop the infrastructure needed to further the research aspect of our tripartite mission. We are so excited to develop this aspect — to give our junior faculty, fellows, and residents additional opportunities and to bring some of this cutting-edge research to our patients.
Q. What’s your favorite part of your job?
A. 100% the people. The people in my department, the School of Medicine and Hospital leadership, the staff, and our patients are what brings me joy every day.
Q. If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
A. I would say, take more risks and trust your instincts.
Q. How do you spend your time away from work? Hobbies?
A. Now that we are empty nesters, my husband and I enjoy cooking, hiking and travelling.
Q. How would you describe yourself in one word?
Q. Who is your inspiration or hero?
A. My mom
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