Joi Stinson Martin '81

Joi Stinson Martin '81

Joi Stinson Martin '81 currently practices obstetrics and gynecology in Ashburn, Virginia.


What influenced you to go into healthcare?

My fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. vonHanwehr, was an incredibly special woman. She saw potential in her students and didn't push them, but encouraged them to excel. She is the one who first pointed out that I was good at math and science. My father is a pastor, and she said, "You have your father's heart. You're not going to end up in a lap somewhere, you're going to want to interact with people." She was such an exceptional teacher that I and two other students tested out of our achievement tests at the end of the year.

Then I came to Marlborough, a place where girls can essentially do whatever we want. Another wonderful teacher at Marlborough, Mrs. Orrell, is the one who got me started pushing the limits of what I was able to do. In m 9th grade Life Science class our tests were fill-in-the-blank and she noticed that I was answering using information that wasn't just in the body of the text, but also in the footnotes and references. She said, "you need to see how far you can push yourself." She thought I could be ready to take the AP Biology test even though I hadn't taken her biology class yes, she sent me home with a big textbook with a few weeks to study and told me the areas to focus on. I did well on the test and then I couldn't stop. My teachers didn't push, but they celebrated, and that was very affirming. 

How has the pandemic influenced your work?

We in the OBGYN community ended up so grateful because when COVID-19 first appeared, we thought that our pregnant patients would succumb to it in large numbers. With immunologic suppression, COVID-19 could have the same deleterious effects comparable to what we see when pregnant women get the flu - it's life threatening. But thankfully, the virus does not disproportionately affect pregnant women as frequently as other high-risk groups. There are still some cases where the pregnancy clearly has compromised the immense system and that person has a much more difficult hospital course than she would have otherwise. But the life and death expectations we had were not realized, so we are very pleased by that.

What has been your biggest challenge and success this past year?

It's challenging going into the hospital and providing care. When women are in labor, there's only so much PPE can do to protect you. The're huffing and plugging, you're running down the hallway, and sometimes there were circumstances where I just had to say, "I've got my face mask, I don't have anything covering my eyes right now, and I've to a pair of gloves. Hopefully I'll be okay."

I would have to say the biggest challenge for me was simply having to be away from the hospital as much as I was. I had a large bank of time off, some of which I donated to colleagues that were short in hours and some that I had to use to ensure all of us remain employed. My region's admin-doc called one day and said, "Joi, we need someone in the office. Can you come?" Oh my gosh, I skipped there! Even though it was a day in the office, it was an opportunity to interact with other people. 

In terms of successes, I did a c-section on a COVID-19-positive patient who I had taken care of as a teenager almost 15 years previously. She had been in the ICU during the beginning of her illness and remained in the hospital until her delivery preterm. We were concerned that there might have been some deleterious effects to the baby and some growth restrictions. But the baby came out just fine and was appropriately sized. 

It just so happened I was the doc scheduled to do her surgery. She reminded me I did her first GYN exam and could not believe it was the same Dr. Martin from so many years before. Mommy and baby both did well postoperatively. 

How did Marlborough prepare you for your career?

When I told people growing up that I was interested in becoming a doctor, quite often they were surprised because no one in my family was in healthcare. There were no obvious role models. But what drove me crazy was that when I would say I'm going to be a doctor, they would say gynecologist. My second rotation in med school was OBGYN. Then every other rotation had to compare to OBGYN, and nothing was as exhilarating.

In OBGYN there are opportunities to be involved in the lives of women from when they are very young until they are postmenopausal and elderly and to walk through with them each of those seasons of life. WHen I was a student at Marlborough, I did not know that the school had instilled in me a unique regard for women. I have an appreciation for their resilience and their awesome capacity to transform as they take on new roles with each of life's challenges. I am honored to be an OBGYN, but had you asked me as a child, I couldn't have imagined myself doing what I do today. 

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