Shelby Dickison, MD, is a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology whose areas of interest include comprehensive obstetric care, minimally invasive surgery, uterine fibroids, vulvar dermatoses, menstrual disorders, contraception and menopause.
Dr. Dickison sees patients at the Center for Advanced Medicine, Women’s Health Center, 4921 Parkview Place, 5th floor, Suite A.
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What happened in the course of schooling to influence you to choose your specialty?
There were two pivotal moments. The first was when I worked as a unit clerk at Barnes St. Peters emergency department – many years ago. I knew I wanted to go into health care, but I didn’t know what field.
Working as a unit clerk gave me hands-on experience in the different health care fields. I really enjoyed the basic science of being a physician, as well as the clinical aspects (seeing patients). I found health care very satisfying, and that’s when I started looking at medicine as a career.
The second pivotal moment occurred during my obstetrics/gynecology (ob/gyn) rotation in medical school when I worked with a generalist in Sikeston, Missouri. She let me participate in C-sections, vaginal deliveries and hysterectomies. Working with her greatly influenced my career choice of ob/gyn.
What brought you to Washington University?
I came here for my residency. During my rotation, I was lucky enough to work extensively with Dr. George Macones – chairman of the department. I found his leadership to be powerful. I also had the opportunity to work with Dr. Brooke Winner, who was an excellent teacher.
In addition, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Eric Strand when he joined Washington University as chief of the division of obstetrics and gynecology. I found him to be a very strong leader, as well.
These three outstanding physicians greatly influenced my decision to stay.
Which aspect of your practice is most interesting?
Spontaneity -- every day is different. A busy day might include surgery in the morning; seeing OB patients in the afternoon, being called to the labor and delivery floor and then getting paged to the emergency department. However, some days may be so quiet -- I start to wonder “Is my pager working?” You never know what is going to happen, and that is what I love.
Is there a particular clinical interest you enjoy more than the others?
I enjoy a little bit of everything – including surgery and obstetric patient education. I also enjoy treating vulvar skin disorders, which are not very common.
What new developments in your field are you most excited about?
On the obstetric side, cell-free DNA testing is a very exciting development that lets us look at conditions in the baby with a simple maternal blood test. This development is very powerful for patients -- it has changed, and will to continue to change, how we practice.
On the gynecologic side – minimally invasive surgery has expanded over the past several years, particularly at this institution. It has really improved how we care for our patients – who can have a procedure and go home the same day or the next.
What are some examples of minimally invasive procedures that you perform?
Endometrial ablation is an outpatient procedure to treat abnormal uterine bleeding.
We are also able to do a hysteroscopy (looking inside the uterus with a camera) now with just a sedative for the patient, instead of general anesthesia.
In spring of 2016, we are expanding our general ob/gyn practice to South County at the new Center for Advanced Medicine. We will be able to perform more outpatient minimally invasive procedures in our new location.
Also, for women who are candidates, minimally invasive hysterectomies can be performed both vaginally and laparoscopically. This option allows for an overnight stay in the hospital, and a shorter recovery time.
Where are you from?
I’m from Portage de Sioux, Missouri, about 35 miles northwest from St. Louis -- it is close to where the Missouri and Mississippi rivers meet on the St. Charles county side, and across the river from Pierre Marquette Park in Illinois.
It was a beautiful place to grow up. Because it is such flat farm land, it can get very windy – we used to get snow drifts that were larger than cars!
Is there a particular award or achievement that is most gratifying?
On a personal side, I consider my daughter an achievement -- she provides a lot of joy to my life. My experience of pregnancy, labor and delivery also gives insight into what my patients are going through.
On a more professional side, as a medical student I won the AMA Physicians of Tomorrow scholarship. It’s a national award and something I’m really proud of.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
Someone once told me, if you really want something, do what you need to do and go and get it. That’s what I did, and here I am.
If you weren’t a doctor what would you be doing?
Teaching high school biology was always something I thought about doing. High school students are pretty impressionable and with good guidance and leadership, you could possibly lead them in the right direction. In some ways it’s pretty similar to what I do now when I’m teaching medical students and residents.