Posted on Wednesday - 03/30/2022 to Up Close
By Barbara Anderson
UCSF Fresno welcomes Meg Autry, MD, a UCSF professor of obstetrics and gynecology, as the interim Chief of the UCSF Fresno Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology beginning April 1.
“We are excited to have Dr. Autry join us at UCSF Fresno. As the interim Chief of OB/GYN, she brings expertise and enthusiasm to the role that will not only serve the department and residency program well, but that will help to elevate the care of women in the Valley,” said Lori Weichenthal, associate dean of Graduate Medical Education and Clinical Affairs at UCSF Fresno.
“We are very fortunate that Dr. Autry has agreed to assume an interim leadership role as Chief of OB/GYN while we complete a national search for a permanent Chief,” said Michael W. Peterson, MD, associate dean for Undergraduate Medical Education and Research at UCSF Fresno. “Dr. Autry is a highly accomplished clinician educator having led national education organizations in her specialty and serving as the OB/GYN residency program director at UCSF. She has a passion for both medical education and care of vulnerable populations. We are very excited to have her join us and lead this important transition for the OB/GYN Department.”
Dr. Autry takes stewardship of the UCSF Fresno Department of OB/GYN from Carlos Sueldo, MD, who is retiring as Chief after eight years at the department’s helm.
A long-term Fresno physician with expertise in reproductive endocrinology and in vitro fertilization, Dr. Sueldo spent many years as a volunteer teacher for UCSF Fresno OB/GYN residents, but in 2014 he agreed to reduce his practice time to 50% to assume short-term leadership of the residency program, and a year later, in 2015, he became Chief. Dr. Sueldo is retiring from the Chief role to return to his practice with his daughter, Carolina Sueldo, MD, volunteer faculty at UCSF Fresno and a residency graduate from UCSF Fresno’s program prior to her completing a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology.
“During Dr. Sueldo’s tenure he has built the first strong program in Gynecology oncology in the San Joaquin Valley and has maintained an excellent residency program, said Dr. Peterson. “Personally, I have found Dr. Sueldo to be the consummate gentleman scholar. We wish him the best in the next phase of his life.”
Dr. Autry, who served as director of the UCSF OB/GYN Residency Program for 15 years until this past June, said she is excited for the opportunity to work with faculty, residents and students at UCSF Fresno. “Other than patient care, my passion is education and educating the future leaders in OB/GYN,” she said. “I am excited about the patient population – the diversity of the patient population – and the ability to work with students and residents.”
A self-described “Army brat,” Dr. Autry earned her medical degree at Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Wake Forest, N.C., and completed her OB/GYN residency at UCSF. She served three years in the U.S. Army in Germany and then joined the faculty at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee for five years before returning to UCSF. There she distinguished herself in teaching, including receiving the Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Medical Education Award.
In addition to patient care and education, her interests include Family Planning, Global Health, Advocacy and workforce issues in OB/GYN, particularly in underserved areas such as the San Joaquin Valley. “Recruiting individuals who are either from the Valley and want to come back or are just really dedicated to this area or this population is paramount, because when you have that connection, it just makes everything better,” Dr. Autry said.
UCSF and UCSF Fresno each received state grants designed to recruit individuals who are underrepresented in medicine to be trained in obstetrics and gynecology to take care of patients in underserved populations and then hopefully, to ultimately work in underserved areas, Dr. Autry said. She was the principal investigator for the grant on obstetrics and gynecology at UCSF.
She also is the obstetrics mentor for the HEAL Initiative (Health, Equity, Action, Leadership) UCSF Global Health Fellowship. HEAL fellows in Obstetrics, Anesthesia, Pediatrics and Internal Medicine serve six months in an underserved area in the U.S. and then six months globally. Primarily, the domestic location for the fellowships has been with the Indian Health Service at the Navajo Nation, but in the upcoming year, Dr. Autry said an Obstetrics HEAL fellow will be at a federally qualified health center in the East Bay. “And I’m hoping to be able to start a HEAL ob/gyn fellowship site in Fresno,” she said.
Dr. Autry is the past president of the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics (APGO). This year, she is the scientific program chair for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) annual meeting, as well as for the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Congress to be held in Paris in 2023.
By coming to the UCSF Fresno Department of OB/GYN from the department at UCSF, “I hope I can establish a greater collaboration among our two departments and potentially leverage the strengths of both,” Dr. Autry said.
As the interim Chief at UCSF Fresno, her focus is to have a comprehensive department that provides evidence-based superior care in the San Joaquin Valley. The UCSF Fresno OB/GYN Department’s strengths are its patient population, the faculty, trainees, and staff, she said. “The people who work in the Department are very dedicated to providing care to the population that they serve.”
Her goals include increasing staffing – general OB/GYNs, midwives and hospitalists, particularly for labor and delivery. “And then I hope to use my experience and expertise and education to develop some innovative curriculum for the residents and students,” she said.