Dr. Carol A. Wheeler, a reproductive endocrinologist at the Fertility Center at Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, recently became the only Rhode Island physician to take and pass the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s Focused Practice Designation Exam in Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.
Providence Business News spoke with her about the work to achieve the credential and her work in general.
PBN: Please describe some of the things you learned while taking and passing the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s Focused Practice Designation Exam in Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.
WHEELER: I didn’t realize until I started reviewing the information the breadth of patients and types of issues we encounter in managing gynecologic problems from birth to young adulthood. I learned that my practical experience and constant continuing education were important in being able to pass the exam.
PBN: What did preparing for this exam entail?
WHEELER: A career of hard work and experience since my early years as an attending helped prepare me. As an educator in the field of obstetrics and gynecology, the opportunity to work with trainees at all levels has helped me constantly learn.
PBN: Can you explain some of the conditions you help pediatric and adolescent gynecology patients deal with?
WHEELER: We treat patients with vulvovaginitis, gynecologic congenital anomalies, infections in the female genital tract, early and delayed puberty, menstrual cramping, pelvic pain, ovarian cysts, abnormal periods or no periods, and contraception issues.
PBN: What misconception about your work do you spend most of your time dispelling?
WHEELER: I spend a lot of my time reviewing what is “normal” and how to care for vulvar issues in children, which are mostly hygiene-related and not infectious. I spend a lot of time reassuring adolescents, and their parents, about normal menstrual patterns. I also spend a lot of time counseling about sexuality in adolescence.
PBN: What new developments in your field do you find the most exciting?
WHEELER: Long-term effective contraception for adolescents has made a huge difference, such as the IUD and implant. New treatments for pelvic pain and endometriosis are also emerging.
Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@PBN.com.