Jaquelyn Yeh, MD is RHAP’s Reproductive Health Care and Advocacy Fellow in Washington State.
I was a medical student who loved every rotation – I didn’t know what I wanted to focus on, but I knew connecting and developing relationships with patients was really important for me. I knew Family Medicine was the specialty for me once I realized that you can concentrate on the full spectrum of your patient’s needs throughout their lifetime.
Family Medicine made me feel like the world was my oyster. I wanted to be the doctor who provides a listening ear and an unwavering support system. I wanted to be the doctor who supports their patients throughout all of their life stages – from first wellness check-ups to abortion care to geriatric screenings.
Abortion care is basic health care. However, the stigmatization and politicization of abortion in our country means providers like me have to scrounge for additional training when this should be foundational to our education. Less than 6 percent of family medicine residencies provide training in abortion care – which made it that much harder for me to become the doctor I wanted to be.
I was lucky to attend a supportive residency in Pennsylvania and connect with clinicians in the Pennsylvania Cluster who are tireless advocates for abortion access. I had found a community of like-minded clinicians, but I was in a state hostile to abortion. My residency supported my interests in full-spectrum reproductive health care but did not provide abortion care on-site. Consequently, I was dependent on a patchwork of outside clinical rotations for my abortion care education.
During my third year of residency, I had a patient who got pregnant and didn’t want to be. She had come to me for support and access. I was her doctor and I had the skills to provide the care she needed, but my hands were tied. This broke my heart. Due to Pennsylvania’s anti-abortion laws, all I could do was give her a phone number to another clinic. She trusted me and I could not be there for her in the way that she needed.
I believe advocacy in medicine is critical. I am a RHAP Reproductive Health Care and Advocacy Fellow in Washington because I believe we need leaders in primary care who are both skilled providers and strong advocates. For me, being the best doctor is being both a provider and an advocate for my patients’ rights. It is critical that I use my privilege as a doctor to fight anti-abortion policies at the institutional, state, and national levels.
RHAP’s Fellowship provides me with a robust community of strong abortion providers where training in abortion care, early pregnancy loss management, and contraception is not a patchwork of experiences but at the core of my learning. It is an amazing feeling when I am able to independently perform a new skill from start to finish. I am excited to complete my fellowship and move to a medically underserved area as a clinical leader and advocate equipped to defend and provide my patients with the safe and trusting health care environment they deserve.
The Reproductive Health Care and Advocacy Fellowship is a year-long intensive clinical training program that develops family medicine leaders who provide, teach, and advocate for comprehensive reproductive health care. We have sites in Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington. If you are interested in the Fellowship, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.