We spoke with FirstHealth OB/GYN Dr. Walter Fasolak about everything from his bedside manner to a typical day on the job — and the thing he wishes all his patients could know.
So, How Long Have You Been Practicing? How Would You Describe Your Bedside Manner?
I’ve been a practicing OB/GYN for 31 years — 27 of those years in Pinehurst. After all that time I have found that it is best to listen, explain, answer questions and stress good communication. You can’t hurry through. You have to help the patient relax and feel confident that all will be ok.
What Made you Choose to be a Doctor? What Made you Decide to Focus in Gynecology?
I have always enjoyed learning how things work and how to fix things. In sixth grade I fell in love with biology. In college I learned how things worked by studying the life sciences. Medical School / Residency taught me how to apply all this science to the human body. The ultimate challenge is to learn enough about how the body “works” to then help people with their health related problems — the “fix.”
“Gynecology deals with the female reproductive system, the most obvious function of which is to conceive, build, and deliver a baby — arguably one of the most important and awesome functions of the body.”
What Does a Day on the Job Look Like for You?
The workday typically starts 7 a.m. It’s either a day at the office or in surgery at the FirstHealth hospital. Office appointments start at 8 a.m. Routine wellness visits are typically 15 minutes. More complex appointments can take 30 minutes to an hour and involve ultrasound imaging, biopsies, using specialized scopes and electronics to diagnose issues, and various minor surgical procedures.
A surgery can take anywhere from one hour to up to 6 hours. Pelvic reconstruction operations involve many separate procedures, often “robot assisted,” in restoring normal anatomy and function.
The typical day may also involve making rounds on hospitalized and post-op patients. Being “on call” means covering labor and delivery, typically from 5 p.m. to the next morning at 7 a.m. when it all starts over again. Weekend on-call assignments involve 24 hour blocks of labor and delivery duty.
What is Something about Your Job You Wish the General Public Understood?
The not-so-obvious part behind every patient visit is that dozens of individuals play a crucial role in making me, the doctor, available to them.
- The admin staff organizes our team and makes sure our tech system is up and running to provide instant information, and that equipment and supplies are available.
- The medical assistants help with procedures, take notes, call patients with results, and keep information organized well beyond the visit.
- The nursing staff helps the patient understand information when the doctor is not immediately available.
- The secretaries, the lab and ultrasound technicians … the list goes on.
What is Something Your Patients Need to Know?
That providing health care and staying healthy is a TEAM effort, and that the patient is the most important member of the team. The most important assignment the patient has as a member of their health care team is communication.
Asking questions as soon as something is not clearly understood, sharing information about symptoms, side effects, medical, family, and social history — the better the information, the more accurate the diagnosis and appropriate the treatment.
Looking for a FirstHealth OB/GYN? Read more about Dr. Fasolak here.