Sarah Stockton Massey ’06, D.O., sees sadness too often. When a family loses a child, she is there. Massey says miscarriages and infant death happen more than people imagine.
But when a family gains a child, Massey is also there. And that is a great joy.
“I feel the work I do is truly meaningful,” she says. “That helps me get up and get through the day and the work week.”
Massey was recently named chief resident in the OBGYN department covering Doctors Hospital and Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. Her staff serves both hospitals every hour of the year. As chief resident, she is a liaison between the doctors and the other medical attendants on staff. She also creates the year’s schedules, on top of her regular duties delivering babies and operating on patients.
Becoming a physician was always a dream for Massey, but it took on more substance as she began shadowing doctors while at Central. A neighbor who became a mentor for her invited Massey along for a day of OBGYN rounds. “I had a feeling I wanted to do this the rest of my life,” she says of the experience.
With a major in biology and a minor in Spanish, Massey joined several other students in a carpool to Drake University for an MCAT prep class. That camaraderie followed her to Des Moines University, where she learned more about women’s health. “I enjoyed going home at night and studying instead of dreading it,” she says about the field.
After promising OBGYN rotations in medical school, Massey was matched to the four-year residency program in Columbus. Although she hopes to move back to Des Moines to join a private practice, she loves the operating room and hospital environment.
There, her days are filled with stories of loss and hope. Earlier this year, a young woman arrived at the hospital with severe post-partum bleeding and in need of surgery. As a Jehovah’s Witness, the patient was reluctant to get a blood transfusion (which is against the religion’s teachings), but she consented if it was necessary to save her life.
During surgery, the doctors couldn’t bring the bleeding under control. The patient had lost more than half her blood volume and had to be transfused with red blood cells and platelets.
“After surgery, despite having had to go against the teachings of her religion and losing her ability to carry more children, the patient and her family were nothing but grateful for the efforts of the medical team,” says Massey. “After three days of recovery in the hospital, she was able to return home to her family and new baby.”
Q&A with Sarah Stockton Massey ’06, D.O.
Q: How do you get through the long, hard days of residency?
A: Any time you can just get away from it all helps. I love spending time with my husband.
Honestly, it’s such a great residency program. One of the things that drew me here was that we all get along really well. Most weekends off we usually spend hanging out with each other. Even though we still talk about work, it’s nice to hang out with friends and have some fun.
Q: Why are health care costs rising?
A: Some of it has to do with the uninsured and underinsured populations. Hospitals and practitioners are not getting payback from those particular patients, which raises the cost for the insured. That ultimately raises the cost for the billing the hospital is putting out so they can stay afloat.
I think the pharmaceutical companies have a little bit to do with it, too—keeping medications priced high instead of making more generics available.
Q: What advice do you have for Central students and alumni who want to be doctors?
A: Go for it. Don’t let anyone get in your way. Central can definitely prepare you for whatever field you want to go into. Be proactive in searching out physicians to shadow. It’s a big commitment but definitely doable. Central has a strong enough program to get you where you want to be.