San Antonio Business Journal: 2019 Health Care Heroes: Kristen Plastino

From the San Antonio Business Journal

Outstanding Physician Hospital-based

Dr. Kristen Plastino, vice chair of clinical operations, UT Health San Antonio Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Kristen Plastino has done as much as anyone to reduce teen pregnancy in Bexar County. Plastino, a tenured professor who has been on the faculty for the department of obstetrics and gynecology at UT Health San Antonio since 2003, established the UT Teen Health program in response to the county’s high rate of teen births compared to the national average. Knowing that many young mothers drop out of school, experience poverty and face parenting challenges they aren’t prepared to handle, she crafted a program that links adolescents to clinical services. It also educates parents, teachers and coaches on how to communicate with teens about topics such as the benefits of delaying sexual activity, the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and the use of contraceptives. Plastino was chief of staff at University Hospital for four years before becoming medical director for the new Women’s and Children’s Tower. She is vice chair of clinical operations in the department of obstetrics and gynecology. Her special interest in adolescent gynecology and reproductive health led to the opening of the Teen Health Clinic at the Robert B. Green campus, where she is medical director ensuring teens’ medical and behavioral health needs are met. She has been awarded more than $30 million in federal and state grants to focus on teen pregnancy prevention and youth development programs.

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in health care and why? At the age of 16, I worked as a delivery person for a pharmacy and loved assisting others. This led me to become a pharmacist while I focused on the critically ill and underinsured.

What was your first job, and what lesson did you learn that is applicable to what you do today? My first job was as a pharmacy tech and a delivery girl. I learned to respect the older generation, as their knowledge and support can help you overcome obstacles.

Tell us about a patient or a case that upon reflection explains “this is why I do what I do.” Now that I have been in practice over 15 years, babies that I delivered see me at my kids’ sporting events. The mom will come up and introduce me to their child and say, “This is who welcomed you into this world.” What a feeling to have been a part of one of the happiest days of their life.

What characteristics or traits must a person have or cultivate to effectively work in health care? Kindness, understanding, nonjudgmental, attentive and human.


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