“You can’t be what you can’t see.”
– Marian Wright Edelman
Women in Medicine Month celebrates the significant progress made by women in the field of medicine and supports the continuing journey of women physicians. Although current statistics show that over 40% of medical school matriculants are women, women physicians are vastly underrepresented in healthcare leadership. For women to achieve equity in healthcare, past and future women physician leaders must be visible as experts.
Women Physician Pioneers
Spotlight on Dr. Martha Koo, M.D.
Dr. Martha Koo, M.D., completed her undergraduate studies at Princeton University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude, and received her medical degree from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, where she earned membership in the AOA and Sigma Xi Society of academic excellence. During her psychiatry residency at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Institute, Dr. Koo was honored with the American Psychoanalytic Association Fellowship Award and she subsequently completed psychoanalytic training at the New Center for Psychoanalysis. Dr. Koo is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Board Certified in Addiction Medicine. She is a pioneer in the development and application of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), and holds certifications in the applications of Neurostar rTMS, Brainsway Deep TMS and MagVita rTMS therapy. She is an active member of the American Psychiatric Association, the New Center for Psychoanalysis, the Clinical TMS Society, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Society of Ketamine Physicians, the California Psychiatric Society and the Southern California Psychiatric Society.
Passionate about using advanced technology to help her patients with treatment-resistant mental disorders, Dr. Koo founded the Neuro Wellness Spa. The Neuro Wellness Spa is a cutting-edge medical facility that provides Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), IV ketamine, photobiomodulation and IV nutrition and that has expanded to four locations since the opening of its flagship site in 2009. Dr. Koo also holds the title of Clinical Supervisor at Clear Recovery Center’s Intensive Outpatient Program and teaches the Altered States Seminar at the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies. In addition to her leadership roles, Dr. Koo has enjoyed her office-based psychoanalytically oriented private practice since 1996.
In August of 2016, the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) selected Dr. Koo’s publication as the winner of the Use of Blockchain in Health IT Research Challenge. Dr. Koo’s current research is focused on future applications and therapeutic directions of TMS therapy. Her work on rTMS for migraine therapy was published in the “Journal of Neurology & Neurosurgery” and she was featured as a plenary speaker, discussing rTMS in addiction, at the 2019 2nd International Conference on Addiction Therapy and Clinical Reports. Dr. Koo hopes that increased patient and provider education about emerging medical technologies will improve access to and quality of mental health care.
A Note from Dr. Koo:
What led you to found the Neuro Wellness Spa?
I was saddened by my clinical experience with so many patients who did not achieve symptom remission despite exhaustive medication trials and committed psychotherapy. In 2008, with the FDA-approval of TMS, I saw an exciting opportunity to offer patients alternative treatments for an improved quality of life. Since then, I have remained passionate about providing ideal, efficacious interventions for overall mental, physical and nutritional health and wellness.
How do you prioritize mental health in your own life?
I make it a priority to do the things I love- travel with family, spend time in nature, play the violin, dance and do yoga. It can be challenging, but I try to balance self-care and caring for others, appreciate the beauty in life despite life’s inherent stressors, and take time each day to truly assess and adapt to my current mental and physical needs.
What issues are important to be aware of during Women in Medicine Month?
I think it’s important to honor and appreciate all the amazing women who have advanced professional opportunities for women in medical and scientific careers and who have also demonstrated that women can enjoy, if desired, both a professional career and motherhood or family. We need to remain cognizant of all inequities extant in society, whether by gender or age or race, and hopefully continue to be proactive in establishing equal opportunities for all.
What advice do you have for aspiring women in medicine?
Go for it! Words can’t express the satisfaction, intellectual stimulation and gratification I experience daily as a physician. Currently, there is a lot of negativity about the state of medicine in the U.S. and the high costs of medical education, but I would advise any woman considering a healthcare career to stay focused on her interests and trust that she will land successfully. A career in medicine offers a myriad of opportunities- clinical, research, teaching, writing, consulting-and provides a path for life-long learning and personal growth.