When Dr. Lee Ouyang was in his third year of residency at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), he, like many of his colleagues, began looking for a job. After sending out numerous messages to several practices in the area and asking friends and family for suggestions, he “serendipitously” had the opportunity to speak with Denise Horn, administrator for Peninsula Women’s Care, P.C., as well as meet the senior partner and owner, Dr. Katherine O’Connell, to learn about the practice. During that meeting, which was pre-pandemic, Ouyang discovered he and Dr. O’Connell’s daughter had crossed paths during their educational journey and were, in fact, pictured together in some of the EVMS group photos.
Having similar values and work ethic, O’Connell and Ouyang believed he would be an ideal fit for the practice. “I saw this as a good opportunity because Peninsula Women’s Care is a small practice and I was looking for a place where I would have a reliable senior partner with whom I could work and learn,” says Ouyang. “Dr. O’Connell is an excellent partner; we learn from each other.”
While O’Connell leans toward more traditional health practices in performing hysterectomies, Ouyang brings in the high tech, robotic style that very well may be the way of the future. Rather than these differences creating roadblocks, they are applauded and bring to light for both O’Connell and Ouyang different ways of practicing medicine.
As a male in a field of practice dedicated to women’s health issues, Ouyang is frequently asked, why obstetrics and gynecology — OB/GYN? “I thought this was the happy stuff — babies being born, and most people are young and healthy overall,” answers Ouyang. “The joke’s on me; this isn’t always the case. At the same time, you can also develop long-term relationships over time, even in the operating room. In other areas of medicine, I could either stay up-to-date on surgery or get to know the patients; this field affords both,” says Ouyang.
Because OB/GYN is targeted primarily toward women, it can be challenging for male physicians in a profession where women seeking medical care want or expect to be treated by women practitioners. While this has proven the case for Dr. Ouyang, he has found that, in general, patients want a practitioner with whom they can relate rather than just someone who’s trying to get them in and out as quickly as possible. “I have had some patients who didn’t prefer to see a male but wanted to be seen sooner,” says Ouyang. “A lot of times, after talking with them and giving them time, they seem to have felt better afterwards and have gotten comfortable with the idea.”
While there are challenges in any medical practice, Dr. Ouyang finds it most rewarding when patients have positive outcomes to difficult pregnancies. “Seeing them come back for their post-partum visit and getting a chance to meet their babies is highly satisfying because we have been able to enjoy the best possible outcome,” says Ouyang. Ultimately, though, Ouyang emphasizes that “sometimes it’s not easy. In medicine, you’re always learning — the patients remind you of that. Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know and it’s about figuring it out. I always appreciate those who are proactive and self-aware because I can learn from that.”
When he’s not working with patients or in an operating room, Dr. Ouyang might be found in a field playing kickball, a passion he discovered several years ago. He has also become the “go to” guy for tech support in the office and the one who can eat a lot and still not gain weight.
Regardless of whether he’s learning or teaching a new skill in his work, spending time playing kickball or figuring out random technology fixes for his colleagues, one thing is clear: Dr. Lee Ouyang is about learning and growth, both professionally and personally.