Women's Health Texas – Austin

Dr. Swenson pioneered ObGyn teaching programs

Listen to Dr. Swenson discuss her background in building teaching programs and how it’s shaped her medical career.

Video Transcript

0:00 – 0:33
My name is Karen Swenson and I consider myself bicoastal. I grew it was born in New Jersey and I spent the first 10 years of my life there and then my parents moved to California. And then we became Californians and spent the next 12 years of my life and ever since then I’m now a Texan. I have two kids that are were born here in Texas so here I am.

So how did I become interested in medicine? That’s kind of an interesting story. I went to college in the 70s and when I went to college there weren’t very many women that went into medicine. I got really involved in education and I got involved with the free clinic. And at my university which was the University of California Davis and started teaching women how to do exams.

I got involved with the University and help them develop their first program to teach medical students how to do pelvics. And we taught women to be live models. I set up I worked with a physician there and we set up a program to teach medical students how to do pelvics. And in fact when I went to medical school in Texas I set up the same kind of program here and all the ObGyn programs all the medical schools in Texas have a live model program that we start that I started with another with a faculty member at Baylor when I went to medical school.

I was in a very – my department was very small there were only 40 of us at a huge University and I went for counseling with my professors and they said you have great grades, if you want to do more in nutrition, do more in education. Why don’t you go to medical school? And I was kind of shocked because I thought couldn’t go to medical school. And here I am. I still do every all the different aspects of obstetrics and gynecology. I deliver babies. I do surgeries. But my one of my specialties is sexual medicine and I’m one of the founders of the Austin Center for Sexual Medicine which has evolved and is now called the Relate Center of Austin.

Part of the reason we wound up naming our group Women Partners in Health because we wanted to recognize how important it is to partner with the patient to provide the best health care.

What is it that I do for fun? Well I exercise. I walk every day. I do Pilates a couple times a week. I row. I have a rowing partner. We’ve actually been in a race or two and I also bicycle so those are my exercise outlets. I also like to play bridge. I’m in two book groups. One is a nonfiction and one is a fiction and I love to spend time with my family. Family is really important. I have four grandchildren because I’m in a blended family. I’m in a second marriage and I have grandchildren ranging from ages 1 to 16 and so and our grandchildren live within bicycling distance. So we get to ride our bikes over. I spent on Halloween going over and taking pictures. I also love to spend time with my kids Grace Katherine and Winston. My daughter’s at Old Miss. My son is in India doing his education abroad and I spend time with my other family my sisters I have two sisters and a brother and my mom.