By Trisha Manaka MA ’10
Dr. Laurie Reynard has run her own practice in obstetrics and gynecology for the past 36 years. Even though the logistics of running a medical office is challenging, she says that there were advantages to being self-employed. “Being self-employed gave me the freedom to work my own hours and opportunities to develop new relationships with people,” she says. “The most rewarding part is the long-term relationships that I had with my patients. For example, about fifteen years after delivering the daughters of my patients, the daughters became my patients,” she says. She enjoys receiving notes of appreciation from her patients as well.
In addition, Laurie made a major impact on advocating for physician wellness as the Chair of the Physicians Health Committee. When an anesthesiologist, a plastic surgeon and ophthalmologist, who were all women, committed suicide between 2006 and 2008, Laurie spearheaded the effort to address the urgent need for supporting physician wellness. She says, “Doctors are reticent about asking for help because they are concerned about the effect it may have on their careers.”
Inspired by the Physician Peer Support Program at Stanford’s Department of Medicine, Laurie established a program for psychological support for physicians at Providence St. John’s Health Center with 16 trained volunteers. Laurie says, “Doctors can become a second victim when patients have an adverse outcome. They may have trouble sleeping and depression. This contributes to physician burnout.” She says, “Through the program, the doctor who has experienced a patient with an adverse outcome is matched with a peer support physician within 24 hours. The doctor receives an email, as well as an empathic phone call or meets in person with the peer support physician.”
Another initiative that Laurie introduced to support physician wellness at Providence St. John’s Health Center was the Interactive Screening Program, which was developed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “It is an anonymous online questionnaire for medical staff that gives personal feedback from a counselor. The goal is to provide support and guidance for doctors to resources. It is a way to draw doctors into treatment and counseling,” she says.
Since retirement from her practice, Laurie continues to teach medical students, residents and interns at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and volunteers with the Venice Clinic and Westside Community Center. “I feel it’s time for me to give back to the community,” she says. She mentors family practice physicians on colposcopy procedures. “I enjoy being a physician. I want to maintain my skills and stay curious,” she says.
Laurie Reynard ’74, MD is a retired physician. As Assistant Clinical Professor at UCLA, she has been teaching at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center for the past 15 years. She won the Los Angeles County Medical Association’s Excellence in Physician Advocacy award in 2018 for her work in developing the Peer Support Program.