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Mary Segars Dolan

Mary Segars Dolan, MD, MPH, NCMPName:

Mary Segars Dolan, MD, MPH, NCMP


Undergrad Institution; Degree and Major:

Duke University, BSN Nursing

Medical School:

Emory University - MPH

In practice since:


Your Specialty:


Where and for how many years did you train AFTER medical school:

  • OBGYN residency at UNC- CH for 4 years
  • 1991-1993 - Applied Epidemiology Fellowship - Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) at the Centers for Disease Control 

How did you choose your specialty?

I'm not sure if I chose the specialty or it chose me.  I tried really hard not to become an OBGYN—my father was an OBGYN and he worked all the time.  We grew up in a small town with only 2 OBGYNs, so he was "on call" a lot!  I started out my medical career as a nurse first and then became interested in public health.  My nursing advisor recommended I pursue a medical career if I really wanted to work in public health.  So, I enrolled in the MD MPH program here at Emory in 1983.  I loved every rotation 3rd year!  During the summer break before third year, I participated in the family planning elective with pediatrician Dr. Bob Hatcher, who started the teen clinic at Grady.  It was great to see "public health" in action and be a participant as a student.  Beginning 4th year, I had narrowed my choices to infectious disease and OBGYN.  In both, there was an opportunity to blend public health and medicine.  During an elective at the VA, it became clear to me that I missed doing "procedures" and preferred working with women.  There seemed to be so many unanswered questions and lack of evidence in women's health—that excited me!  For me it has been a great career choice blending my nursing background (the paradigm of promoting health and wellness) with the medical training (treating disease and illness) and the application of public health principles.  There's still so much to do!

What do you like MOST, and like LEAST, about your specialty?

  • Most- I like working with all ages and the issues women face with their health—prevention of conception, desiring conception, pregnancy, becoming a mom, deliveries (usually epic events), transitions post reproductive; menopause, and love working with older women and hearing their stories.
  • Least- Night calls; they used to be easier when I was younger!

In your opinion, what attributes are important in anyone choosing this specialty?

You must be comfortable with the unpredictable nature of obstetrics—we still don't know what causes women to go into labor… labor is unpredictable and working on the labor unit can be chaotic.  It's not for those who like "everything scheduled".  You should like to work in a variety of venues and with a large age range of patients.  Clinic, L&D, the OR are all very different.  Also, you should enjoy working with your hands—doing procedures, working in the OR/surgery, etc.  Most of the time, you will be working with a relatively "healthy" population.  However, you will still deal with loss, death, and difficult outcomes.  Again, unpredictable day-to-day!

Hobbies/special interests:

Cooking (particularly Italian food), reading- all genres, anything outdoors/nature- hiking, biking, adventure, travelling, sailing, skiing, swimming, canoeing, yoga, animals- I have a golden retriever and 2 cats, my family (2 boys), photography, art, music (prefer classical and singer/songwriter/guitar), and playing piano.  Note: Not necessarily in this order :)