INTERVIEW WITH ALLISON GROFF, MD, MPH
What guided your decision to go into medicine and specifically, your chosen field?
Life has a way of bringing you to where you need to be. I decided around the age of 10 that I wanted to be a doctor, because I wanted to help people. It sounds very cliche – but it’s true! I remember that moment, because my great uncle had a heart attack and was quite sick in the hospital. As I prayed for his recovery, I wished that there was more I could do to help. My paternal grandfather and three paternal uncles were physicians – their work was always so impressive to me. My great uncle turned the corner to recovery, and I realized, in that moment, that I wanted to follow my family’s legacy and become a physician.
Then, when I was 11, my family expanded as my mother became pregnant with my younger brother. At each stage of development, I followed along, reading a book that showed the developing fetus. I attended some doctor’s appointments with my mother, and I took an older sibling class through the hospital about childbirth. When it came time for his birth, my parents allowed me to attend the delivery. This was the moment that my complete fascination with obstetrics became solidified.
This is not to say that it was a straight line to becoming an OB/GYN for me. As my academic interests expanded in college, I became very fascinated with the psychosocial aspects of health. Before making a definitive decision to attend medical school and subsequently OB/GYN residency, I spent time doing research on the emotional aspects of ovarian insufficiency at the NIH. I also attended graduate school in public health, studying behavioral science. Through these experiences, I have developed a true passion for the psychosocial aspects of health. Nothing, however, could keep me away from my true love of delivering babies. To this day, guiding that baby out of mom and onto her chest, and hearing those first few cries, is a source of complete joy. The privilege of being with my patients in that moment and seeing their families be completed, like my own family was as an 11 year old, fills me with complete joy.
Have you ever been a patient, and if so, what did it teach you?
I have three sons, ages 12, 9, and 4. As an OB/GYN, I had the opportunity to be on the other side of the exam and delivery table with my pregnancies. My first son was born when I was in medical school and before I had my formal training in obstetrics. As a result, I have experienced what it is like to go through pregnancy without the intimate knowledge I now have about pregnancy and childbirth. While pregnant with him, I attended childbirth classes. I called my doctor when I was contracting, unsure if I needed to come to the hospital or not. I remember being unsure about whether I should get an epidural or not. All this is to say that I was once a pregnant lady, just like my patients, with many questions and concerns about the unknown. My goal as a Founding Medical Partner is to help pregnant patients and their families better understand what to expect during this experience.
What are the most important qualities for a doctor to have?
A doctor should have strong listening skills, deep compassion, and extensive knowledge. I have found that if I listen intently to what my patient is telling me, the diagnosis is almost always in that information. The patient themself may not know what the answer is, but when their experience, symptoms, and physical exam are combined with my knowledge of medicine, the answer presents itself.
“What makes Doctorpedia special is that it offers a platform where patients can find reliable information on these topics and so many more. The information comes directly from experienced and well trained physicians, and the information is presented in a concise and clear medium.”
What is your favorite activity outside of work?
Spending time with my family is my favorite activity outside of work. I am a mother to three boys, ages 12, 9, and 4, and I have a very supportive partner, Matt, who is helping me raise the boys. We love to sit around the firepit in our backyard and tell stories while we roast marshmallows. Our days are often busy between work, school, and after school activities. It’s such a treat to catch up this way. In the summer, we also love spending our evenings at the neighborhood pool, splashing in the water and eating dinner poolside. In the winter, snow days are the best, because we can sled down the hill in our backyard. We also have a daily family competition to see who gets the most steps – and we are all expected to get at least 10,000.
You recently joined the Doctorpedia team as a Founding Medical Partner. What about Doctorpedia resonates with your personal and professional mission?
A huge component of my job as a physician involves education. In obstetrics and gynecology, this is especially true. Pregnancy and childbirth is an entirely new and different experience for patients and their spouses. Their questions range from what will happen to their body, to what childbirth will be like, to what types of medications and products they can use without harming their baby. They also wonder about all the testing that is recommended. In gynecology, there is also a lot of information to explore, particularly when it comes to birth control, available medications, and surgical interventions.
What makes Doctorpedia special is that it offers a platform where patients can find reliable information on these topics and so many more. The information comes directly from experienced and well trained physicians, and the information is presented in a concise and clear medium. There is a lot of quickly accessible information on the internet but the reliability may be questionable. Here, however, a patient can feel assured that the information they are receiving is up to date, evidence based, and presented in a clinically useful manner by a physician.
I love practicing clinical medicine and I intend to continue my work as a full scope obstetrician and gynecologist throughout my career. It’s important to note that our world is forever changing. The past few years are a huge example – we cannot count on how tomorrow may look. We can, however, adapt to the virtual advances we have made in this time. One thing I believe is that our virtual resources and our developing technologies will only become more important tools over time, especially in medicine. My personal goals are to incorporate our virtual platforms into my career, to augment the practice of medicine. Being able to share information readily with my patients is a huge benefit of Doctorpedia.
Allison Groff, MD, MPH
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Dr. Groff is dual board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and in obesity medicine. She is a private practitioner of full scope obstetrics and gynecology, as well as consultant for a telehealth service, and past experiences as medical consultant for postpartum depression program development. She has a special interest in psychosocial aspects of health, with publication and program experience.