Educating Women Empowers Them to Take Control of Their Health

Posted on May 03, 2012

May 2012 -- In her second year of residency, Cleveland Clinic women’s health specialist Lynn Pattimakiel, MD, says her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The experience was an eye opener. Her mother, a nurse, took care of her patients and her family. But she had failed to give herself the same attention and missed a couple of screenings.

Caregivers need care, too

“I think it was at that time that I realized how much mothers actually put themselves on the back burner,” she says. Dr. Pattimakeil also began to realize that even women in the medical field are guilty of neglecting their own preventive care.

Women can be martyrs, taking care of everyone else and postponing care for themselves, she says. Sometimes they’re embarrassed, sometimes they think they can deal with problems, and sometimes they don’t realize that help is out there.

So one of the most gratifying things about being a physician, says Dr. Pattimakiel, is educating patients and being able to improve the quality of their lives.

Connecting with patients

“I like to have that connection with patients,” she said. “And when you’re following them in primary care or in the women’s health specialty, you get to see them routinely. You learn about them and their families.”

Dr. Pattimakiel spends the majority of her time in Internal Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. However, she also provides care in the Center for Specialized Women’s Health and finds time to participate in the center’s outreach programs.

She strives to educate women on disease prevention — and there’s a lot of opportunity for counseling. It’s not just about treating symptoms, she says, but about making sure that women are getting mammograms and PAP tests routinely.

For women who have been through menopause, it’s about making sure they understand their risk for osteoporosis and what they can do to maintain their bone health. For younger women, it’s about STD screenings or healthy conception.

“We talk about a lot of different things,” she said. “It’s a comprehensive assessment focused on whatever stage the patient is going through.”

In the Center for Specialized Women’s Health, Dr. Pattimakiel can spend more time focusing on women’s specific issues that they might not bring up in another setting. These issues can impact all areas of a woman’s life and cause silent suffering, she says.

Women think they just have to deal with certain health problems, but some therapies can really improve the quality of their lives, she notes. For example, many different therapies can help a woman with severe menopausal symptoms find real relief.

Fellowship honed her focus on women

Dr. Pattimakiel credits her fellowship training in Women’s Health at Cleveland Clinic with enhancing her ability to care for her female patients more thoroughly. “It’s so gratifying when you can make a significant improvement in someone’s life — can make a difference in a short amount of time,” she says. “You’re giving her options and the opportunity to make an educated decision. You’re giving some power back to her, which is really satisfying.”

Dr. Pattimakiel graduated from the Medical University of Debrecen in Debrecen, Hungary. She then came to Cleveland for an Internal Medicine residency at St. Vincent Charity Hospitals. Her fellowship in the Center for Specialized Women’s Health followed at Cleveland Clinic.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Pattimakiel, or any of our physicians in Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Specialized Women’s Health, please call 216.444.4HER.