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The Women's Health Group at Boston Medical Center is located in the Shapiro Center. Established in 1985, it was one of the first in the nation to focus exclusively on the unique healthcare needs of women, with women caring for women, and actively seeking a doctor-patient relationship based on respect, trust, and understanding.
In 1997, the US Department of Health and Human Services recognized the practice as a national Center of Excellence in Women's Health, a model for best practices in caring for women. BMC’s practice is one of only 21 in the nation, and among the first to be so recognized.
The Women’s Health Group uses a multidisciplinary team approach emphasizing preventive care and emotional wellbeing. While the Group serves women of all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, it is focused especially on the needs of women in Boston's underserved communities.
Each patient selects a primary care provider from the internists and nurse practitioners on site. These primary care providers all have demonstrated training beyond their traditional field of expertise, ensuring the incorporation of ambulatory, gynecologic care, mental health screening, and assessment for interpersonal violence, for example, into routine healthcare.
Each primary care provider is supported by specialists in other relevant clinical fields. Mental health needs are addressed by two licensed clinical psychologists who practice in the same locale and provide consultation and promote ready coordination of mental and medical healthcare services. Similarly, gynecology consultation is available on a same day basis from members of the department of obstetrics and gynecology, either from within the Women's Health Group practice site or from the Gynecology department of BMC.
5th Floor, Suite A
Shapiro Center 617.414.5951
Treatments & Services
Osteoporosis is a major concern for women before and after they reach menopause. In addition to the primary care offered in the clinic, Boston Medical Center has the most advanced technology for measuring bone strength along with a group of specialists to provide or recommend additional services.
Physicians work with the comprehensive Breast Health Center, which offers evaluation and care in one setting. Patients can see an appropriate specialist including medical and surgical oncologists, radiologists and surgeons during one visit.
Physicians provide routine gynecological care, including family planning and Pap test screening. If further treatment, surgery or pregnancy care is needed, patients are referred to physicians at Boston Medical Center who specialize in all aspects of obstetrics and gynecology (Ob/Gyn).
If a patient needs to be hospitalized, their care will be provided by a specialized in-patient hospital team. However, the patient’s primary care doctor continues to coordinate care.
Women often have questions and concerns as they approach menopause including whether or not to begin hormone or other therapies. The team is experienced in addressing these issues and will offer advice and care that is tailored to the patient’s needs.
Focusing on overall health may involve coping with stress and other threats to mental health. Psychologists are available to address a number of mental health problems commonly affecting women, including stress, anxiety, eating disorders and depression.
The practice offers a variety of strategies to help promote good health, including cholesterol screening, smoking cessation programs, vaccinations, mammography, nutrition counseling, exercise recommendations and health education programs.
Primary care services are complemented by a full spectrum of specialty services at Boston Medical Center. For example, if a patient needs surgery, the Internal Medicine department works in coordination with the patient’s surgeon.
Violence Against Women
Being a victim of violence now or in the past can affect a woman's emotional and physical health, and the team has expertise in helping women cope with these issues.
Director, Women's Health Unit, General Internal Medicine
Associate Professor of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine
Instructor of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine
Whether for treatment, a single consultation, second opinion or ongoing follow up, our physicians will keep the consulting physician fully informed of the patient's treatment plan and coordinate long term management.
The Women's Health Group Research
The Women's Health Group integrates clinical care with innovative women's health research, using the findings of investigations to help inform the clinical and medical education missions of the Center of Excellence in Women’s Health. Investigators in the Center have developed and evaluated a number of clinical protocols in preventive medicine, including screening tools for eating disorders and domestic violence that are now used in the clinical intake form within the Center and across the country. Research demonstrating the role of physicians in the low rates for mammography and clinical breast examination in certain populations has led to the evaluation of innovative techniques to improve medical education in this critical area.
The Program in Research on Women's Health at Boston Medical Center was launched in 1993 by Drs. Marianne N. Prout and Gail E. Sonenshein. The goal was to promote interdisciplinary research in women's health at the medical campus by bringing bench scientists, clinical investigators and public health researchers together to determine collaborative research directions and to help obtain funds for the research. Some of the key achievements were:
- The development of a monthly interdisciplinary seminar series. The concept was to focus on a particular disease each month and have speakers from each of the three different disciplines. Various members of the campus came together and sometimes met there for the first time. Seminars were held in the areas of breast cancer, obesity and diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and autoimmunity, bone health, etc. The seminar series, which is still ongoing, has helped lead to the development of the obesity center here, spawned many interdisciplinary grants and provided CME credits for continuing education.
- The development of working groups in areas of substantial interest, including the Breast Cancer Working Group, which still meets and includes members from the Boston University School of Public Health, the Goldman School of Dental Medicine, and from the Departments of Biochemistry, Geriatrics, Medicine, Orthopedic Surgery, Otolaryngology, Pathology Laboratory Medicine, Surgical Oncology, and the Cancer Center in the Boston University School of Medicine. Members of the Breast Cancer Working Group have received multiple research and training grants from the Department of Army and Susan Komen Foundation, as well as R01's and a Program Project grant on Signaling in Breast Carcinogenesis from the NIH.
- Awarding of a National Center of Excellence in Women's Health to Boston University by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1997. The Center’s goals include expanding the research base in women's health, providing training at all levels and addressing community needs through outreach, research and clinical care. The Center has supported faculty in three schools, nine departments in the Boston University School of Medicine and BU faculty at the VA. Four junior faculty members received their first independent funding through the Center.
- Receipt of a K12 junior faculty-training award entitled BIRCWH (Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health). Dr. Rebecca Silliman is the Principal Investigator. This 5-year award is an interdisciplinary effort including the BU Schools of Medicine and Public Health and the Sargent School of Rehabilitation and has provided young investigators in five different departments with mentored support over 1-2 years to foster their development and ability to obtain independent research funding.
In 2005, the Program in Research on Women's Health at Boston Medical Center was replaced by the Women's Health Interdisciplinary Research Center (WHIRC) which pursues the same goal: to promote women's health through research and training.