Jennifer L. Thie, MD
Q. Dr. Thie, please tell me a little about yourself and your life in medicine.
I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. My mother was a registered nurse and always wanted me to pursue a career in medicine. My father’s family ran a German bakery—it was the most popular in town. I worked there in high school and loved it, but it was not a good place for a woman because the men in the family did all the baking. So I went off to college to study medicine. I graduated from Boston University and attended the University of Cincinnati for medical school. I decided to become an Obstetrician Gynecologist. I am a child of the 60s; I was a freshman the year that four students were killed at Kent State University in Ohio. In Boston, I was involved in protesting the war in Vietnam. I was involved in the women’s health movement and worked at a free clinic.
I have always wanted to educate women about their health concerns and give them greater control over their decisions. I completed an ob/gyn residency at Bethesda Hospital in Cincinnati and then completed a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I returned to Cincinnati and started a private practice, which I have run for 27 years. I also have been involved in resident education for all those years and have seen the changes in the gender makeup of the residents over that time. I was the only female in my residency program my first year—this year all eight of our new residents are women.
Q. Has your career progressed as you expected? What has surprised you? What is most gratifying to you about your life as a physician?
I have enjoyed my career. I was surprised that the infertility practice was what took up most of my time. Currently, I am a team member of an in vitro fertilization program but I have always diversified my practice by caring for women through menopause and those with other endocrine issues such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. I am glad that I have been able to continue my practice without the interference of the outside forces in medicine. I think I have always been leery of insurance companies and hospital administrators and the decisions that they make that come between the doctor and the patient. I most enjoy my relationships with my patients. I can set the pace in the practice and hire a caring staff. I have helped countless couples through their struggles with infertility. I have provided services to lesbian and single women when it was hard for them to find a physician. I married in my mid-50s and didn’t have any children, but I always tell everyone I have many, many children.
Q. You have been a member of NAMS since 1993; how has the Society benefited you and your medical practice?
NAMS has always been an organization that I perceive to support education of menopausal women. The organization has welcomed women’s health advocates to participate in our ongoing discussions. They recognize the importance of nurses and promote them to play prominent roles in the Society. The organization weathered the Women’s Health Initiative studies and allowed open discussion between its members. I was impressed with the openness of those discussions even though at times there was significant discord. I have known NAMS Executive Director Dr. Margery Gass since she was a medical student at the University of Cincinnati. I respect her immensely and was delighted when she took over the position after Dr. Utian’s retirement. I also give Dr. Utian praise for his tireless efforts to make the Society what it is today.
Q. You have also been a generous donor to NAMS. Why do you contribute? What would you say to other practitioners to encourage them to give to NAMS?
My family has left me funds that I can distribute to those nonprofits that I feel are meeting the goals that are important to me. The education of women about their health is one of them. I feel that NAMS has a consistent history of educating in a way that is empowering for women and I wanted to support that mission. With my donation, I also was able to honor Dr. Joanne Kersh, who has served women throughout her career as a clinician and as a teacher of countless medical students, residents, and nurse practitioners. The fact that she is being honored by the Society this year makes me so happy.