Following the completion of her General Surgery Residency at MUSC and her Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery Fellowship at Duke University, Shaina Eckhouse, M.D. joined the Division of Minimally Invasive Surgery at Washington University. In addition to building a robust surgical practice at Washington, Dr. Eckhouse conducts research focusing on advancing population health. Applying her clinical knowledge, she collaborates with researchers in the Division of Public Health Science to understand the surgical disparities in the outcomes of bariatric surgery, an effective treatment of obesity, which affects one third of Americans and is particularly prevalent in minorities and underserved populations.
Her interest in both research and bariatric surgery stems from the many mentors she encountered during her training, including women surgeons at MUSC. In fact, one of the deciding factors on why she chose MUSC for residency was when she interviewed and met with women faculty.
“When interviewing for residency, the opportunity to meet with women faculty and residents helps you see how you can fit in, how you will be treated fairly,” said Dr. Eckhouse. “I knew as soon as I interviewed with Dr. Reed, and met with Dr. Baker and female residents that MUSC would be the right environment for me.”
According to Eckhouse, Dr. Reed was a big influence during her training at MUSC. It was during the cardiothoracic surgery rotation where Dr. Reed really impressed her. “I signed up for as many surgeries with her as possible. I really got to know and admire her,” said Dr. Eckhouse. “When I started residency, I learned she had started a group for women interested in pursuing cardiothoracic surgery. She was the first female president of the Society for Thoracic Surgeons – a trailblazer for women in surgery – and here she was forming a club on campus to help young students see how we could succeed.”
Dr. Eckhouse also had the opportunity to conduct postdoctoral research at MUSC under a Cardiovascular Research Training Grant, where Jeffrey Jones, Ph.D., and Rupak Mukherjee, Ph.D. were very important mentors to her.
“Dr. Jones’ mentorship was influential in advancing my career,” says Eckhouse. “In 2015, I won the Vivien Thomas Young Investigator Award from the American Heart Association as a result of the research we were doing in the lab.”
Once she returned to the clinical environment, she rotated on GI Surgery and then moved to Acute Care. She liked both. Dr. Eckhouse reached out to many faculty in both specialties for advice. “I appreciate everyone’s interest in guiding my decision,” comments Eckhouse. “I came to realize the best fit for me was GI and Bariatric Surgery.”
Even though she changed disciplines, Dr. Eckhouse is confident her two years of postdoctoral research in the cardiothoracic lab at MUSC gave her an advantage as a candidate for the Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery Fellowship at Duke University, where she thrived. “My training at Duke gave me a really nice foundation to grow into an expert in my field,” she said.
During her Duke fellowship, an unexpected mentor from her MUSC residency appeared when Megan Baker-Ruppel, M.D. reached out. “Dr. Baker was one of my strongest advocates during my fellowship year,” said Eckhouse.
“I give her all the credit in the world for helping me find jobs and prepare for interviews. She also gave me the support and advice I needed so I could feel comfortable negotiating contracts,” Shaina recalls. “In fact, when she learned I was being recruited for a position at Washington University, she once again reached out and offered her objective guidance,” adds Dr. Eckhouse. “It was quite amazing and something I model for my residents.”