Featured Physician: Get to know Dr. Monica Christmas
Every month, we feature a physician as an opportunity for the community you to learn more about the great doctors on staff at Little Company of Mary Hospital. This month, we had the chance to talk with Dr. Monica Christmas, an OB/GYN at Little Company of Mary Hospital (2800 W. 95th Street). Read on to get to know Dr. Christmas, including her major in college, her work with minimally invasive surgery at Little Company of Mary, and even what she is currently reading.
Dr. Monica Christmas
Medical School: Rush University Medical College
Residency: Rush University Medical Center
Why did you decide to become a physician?
I’ve always had an interest in science—I was an engineering major in college. I went into engineering not knowing what I would do with that degree, and after my first year of college I interned at IBM. There I realized that I wanted to do something I was passionate about. Although I like the sciences, I still like interacting with people. Throughout high school I babysat for a physician, so I was able to watch what he did, and what my physicians growing up did for me. So I decided my second year of college that I would pursue medical school.
How did you choose your specialty?
During rotations, I loved surgery, and I liked OB/GYN because I could also do primary care, and there’s nothing more awesome than delivering a baby.
What do you enjoy most about being a physician?
I enjoy the fact that every day is different because people are different. I really enjoy being able to truly make a difference in someone’s life. I love the field of medicine, especially surgery, and I am inspired by my patients. Every day brings new challenges and rewards, and I feel truly blessed to do what I love to do—help women in their healthcare journey.
What is your philosophy of care?
I apply a holistic approach to treatment of patients that incorporates mind, body and soul, so my approach to medicine is comprehensive. I truly try to get to know my patient so that I can integrate her desires and lifestyle into her patient care. When women come to me, I try to get an idea of what else is going on in their lives—children, work they do, the family they come from—because that will help me take care of them. I get a feel for what’s going on and treat all of those things.
We work together to explore traditional and non-traditional treatment options. I practice a holistic medicine—sometimes I send patients to acupuncture, bioidentical hormone replacement, and I encourage women to get counseling for psychological or social parts of their lives. I am into overall well-being, healthy eating and exercise, and an overall healthy way of life.
We know you are working with the da Vinci on minimally invasive surgeries. What do you like about using the da Vinci?
For the past year, I’ve been developing the gynecological da Vinci program at Little Company of Mary so we can offer minimally invasive surgery to hysterectomy patients. The major benefit is that we can do major surgery through very small laparoscopic incisions, so the recovery is faster. With the economy, I’ve seen women who would benefit from a hysterectomy not take care of themselves because they would have to take off work for so long. Without the da Vinci, a typical hysterectomy is 3-5 days in hospital and 6-8 weeks of recovery before a patient can return to work. Using minimally invasive techniques, the patient can often be in the hospital for just one night, and then back to work in two weeks. Just to be able to offer this approach is amazing—the rapid recovery is phenomenal.
What are the benefits of using the da Vinci to the surgeon?
Typically, a hysterectomy is a difficult surgery for the physician, because of the strain on the body. With the da Vinci, though, the surgeon is sitting down at a console. Even if it’s a long surgery, I’m sitting and relaxed. It helps me be a better surgeon.
What is the number one advice/tip you give your patients for healthy living?
I think the number one thing is to take care of the body that God has given you because you don’t get a second one. I focus a lot on healthy eating and exercise—find something aerobic you like to do. I like to try to reach people before they have a health issue.
What is the best thing Little Company of Mary has to offer patients?
The thing that’s characteristic about Little Company of Mary is the family feel. The biggest thing patients tell me after having a baby at Little Company of Mary is that they felt like family was taking care of them. The whole hospital has a warm, loving feel. Also, the longevity of the staff—many nurses and doctors start and end their careers at Little Company of Mary.
If you hadn’t become a physician, what would you be doing?
Maybe I would be a baker—sometimes I think, man if I made wedding cakes for a living. Or a yoga teacher. Or I could make pottery—I love doing things with my hands. Maybe I could be an actress—that seems really exciting…I think I could be on the big screen.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of the office?
I love Pilates and yoga. I like riding my bike with my daughter. I really like art and music, although I cannot sing. Oh, and I love to read. I am just getting ready to start The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I just finished The Tea Rose, which a patient recommended, and it was very, very good.