Dr. Angela Chien is an obstetrician/gynecologist practicing in Kirkland, Washington, at Evergreen Women’s Health Center, where she is an attending physician. Chien earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from University of Washington and her M.D. from University of Washington School of Medicine. She completed an internship at University of New Mexico Hospital, and served her residency at Santa Clara Valley Hospital.
Dr. Chien is a member oftheAmerican College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Washington State Obstetrical Association, and the Seattle Gynecological Society. Prior to Evergreen Women’s Health Center, Dr. Chien worked as an attending physician at both Healthcare for Women and The Everett Clinic. She previously served as Quality Improvement Chair for the department of OB/Gyn at Evergreen Hospital, and she was also a member of the Evergreen Surgical Center Medical Quality Committee. She is currently serving membership on the Quality and Peer Review Committee for Evergreen Hospital, the Evergreen Surgical Center Managing Board, and the Claims Committee for Physicians Insurance.
When did you first decide to become a doctor? Why?
I first decided around the end of sophomore year and early junior year of college. I wasn’t one of those people who knew from a young age that medicine was their calling. I was 18 years old as a sophomore in college and it made sense with a biochemistry degree to pursue medicine. My grandfather was a family doctor in rural Taiwan, and I had spent many summers there with him in the clinic as well, but I was not convinced that medicine was my future until at least end of sophomore year.
How/why did you choose the medical school you went to?
I really only applied to a few medical schools that were close to home–my parents were reluctant to have me go too far away and also were hopeful to be able to help finance some of my education. The University of Washington had a great reputation and was also my local school, so it made sense to make that my first choice.
What surprised you the most about your medical school studies?
It is really hard for me to remember that far back, but I do remember that despite being inundated with schoolwork and getting so little sleep especially around exam time, it was still fun. Some of my best friendships were made during those very difficult years.
What led you to becoming an OB/Gyn (why did you decide to specialize in OB/Gyn)?
I have always said that my specialty chose me. When I started my clinical rotations, I thought I would become a pediatrician or family doctor. But then I spent six weeks in Anchorage, Alaska, for my OB rotation and absolutely loved it. When I finished that rotation, I felt that my calling had actually found me!
Has being an OB/Gyn met your expectations? Why?
Yes, I have really enjoyed this specialty. It’s a unique specialty that combines surgical skills with primary care. I have taken care of many of my patients for over a decade and love the continuity of care. General surgeons get to operate, but once the surgery is over, they rarely see those patients again. As an OB/Gyn, many of my patients stay with me after surgery and continue their routine care.
What do you like most about being an OB/Gyn?
There is no question that I most enjoy delivering babies and following women through their pregnancies.
What do you like least about being an OB/Gyn?
Ironically, I love delivering babies and pregnancy care, but find the nighttime call and malpractice the least likable things about being an OB.
What was it like finding a job in your field –what were your options and why did you decide what you did?)
At the time that I was looking for a job, I was more focused on getting back to the Seattle area to be closer to my parents. I looked for a job with a private practice initially, picking one that seemed relatively busy without being overwhelmed.
If you had it to do all over again, would you still become an OB/Gyn? (Why or why not? What would you have done instead?)
I am not sure that I would pick this field again—the years of night call have taken their toll. However, there are many newer options in OB now that were not available to me when I started. As an example, many new graduates are able to get jobs as hospitalists or laborists—essentially just covering 12-hour shifts, rather than starting in full speed in private practice.
Describe a typical day at work.
My typical day at work would start around 8 a.m. and end around 6 p.m. I see anywhere from 20 to 28 patients a day. If I have patients in labor, I may deliver a baby or two during the day. If it is my turn to be on call, I continue on through the night just taking care of hospital patients until the next morning.
From your perspective, what is the biggest problem in healthcare today?
Controlling costs—we order way too many tests as part of practicing defensive medicine (trying to “not miss anything” by ordering lots of imaging, blood work), without necessarily improving the quality of care we are providing.
Where do you see OB/Gyn in 10 years?
In 10 years I do not see any OBs in private practice per se. I envision every hospital that has a labor and delivery unit employing physicians to provide all those services to the community.
On average: How many hours a week do you work? How many hours do you sleep per night? How many weeks of vacation do you take?
On average I work 50 to 60 hours a week. I do try to get at least seven hours of sleep a night when I am not on call. I take about four weeks of vacation a year.
Are you satisfied with your income?
Difficult question—while OB/Gyns make more money than primary care providers, we work hard for this income and have very brutal call and malpractice/liability stress. I often feel relatively underpaid for that reason.
If you took out educational loans, is/was paying them back a financial strain?
I was fortunate to attend my state school and have fewer loans, as well as have parents who were able to help me with tuition
In your position now, knowing what you do – what would you say to yourself 10 years ago?
I would say to think long and hard about what lifestyle I wanted and pick my specialty carefully! If I could do anything over, it would be to play and travel more during the last 10 years and work less.
What information/advice do you wish you had known when you were beginning medical school?
I wish I had realized a bit more about the years of training after medical school, some of the issues with health care in general in the nation (although when I was in medical school, I think the nation in general didn’t face as many issues in terms of the number of uninsured people and the costs of delivering health care).
What types of outreach/volunteer work do you do, if any?
I am hoping to get involved with the University of Washington School of Medicine relatively soon and become a preceptor for medical students at free community clinics and health fairs.
Do you have family? If so, do you have enough time to spend with them?
I do not have children but do have a sibling and parents locally. I have to make time to see them but feel it is manageable.
Do you have any final piece of advice for students interested in pursuing OB/Gyn as a career?
Be encouraged about the future for OB/Gyns—I think that the field will change tremendously over the next few years and it will be much easier to balance lifestyle and career. I think that there will be more jobs available that allow more time for have a family and continue to play.