Becoming a physician requires many things: determination, attention to detail, a strong work ethic and intelligence, just to name a few. Fortunately, all of our physicians at Women’s Health Specialists have all of these traits, but there are two people we’d like to highlight who bring a few extra traits to the table: Dr. Elina Pfaffenbach and Dr. James O’Leary.

Dr. Pfaffenbach and Dr. O’Leary served in the United States military, and their service brings invaluable experience to both their patients and the staff at Women’s Health Specialists.

“My experience working as an OB/GYN in the U.S. Army has given me a unique viewpoint and I am able to really connect with patients who are either currently serving themselves, or have partners, parents or siblings who are serving,” Dr. Pfaffenbach said.

Dr. Pfaffenbach joined the U.S. Army in 1998 and was stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where she worked as a physician providing OB/GYN care to active-duty service members. She was later stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, before ending her service in 2006 as a Major.

Dr. O’Leary joined the U.S. Navy, where he served from 1985 to 1989, and was stationed throughout the U.S. and in Turkey, where he worked as a general medical officer. He started as an intern and became a general medical officer for the next three years, serving two years in the ER and recruit training center at the Naval Station Great Lakes in Chicago. He spent the next year at Camp Pendleton in Southern California with the First Marine Division, before being deployed to Turkey with the Marines.

“It was a great honor to serve with the Marines. They’re always ready and prepared for anything,” Dr. O’Leary said.

Both Dr. O’Leary and Dr. Pfaffenbach say they felt a call to service from the time they were young and appreciate the fact that they were able to do what they love while serving their country.

Dr. Pfaffenbach’s father served in World War II, which is another reason she felt such a strong connection and desire to serve.

“I like adventure, I like to travel, and I wanted to serve this country in any capacity I could,” Dr. Pfaffenbach said.

However, both Dr. O’Leary and Dr. Pfaffenbach agreed, working in the military as an OB/GYN and a general medical officer wasn’t always easy. There were strict requirements to maintain physical fitness and other military requirements, such as knowing how to properly use a service weapon. The focus of physicians serving in the military is always to get their patients up and back to work as quickly as possible, which is a trait Dr. Pfaffenbach said she carries with her to this day.

“I have a responsibility to my patients and I make sure I am as straightforward with them as possible,” Dr. Pfaffenbach said. “In the military, there’s a push to get well so you can get back to your duty, and I try to do things to help my current patients get back to their lives.  I promote being fit, healthy, eating right and having a healthy pregnancy so after baby is born they aren’t struggling to get back to their normal health.”

“The military has given me the skills to work with all types of people,” Dr. O’Leary said. “You service a wide selection of patients, many from different cultures and I’ve learned how to show respect to those different cultures when working together.”

Dr. O’Leary and Dr. Pfaffenbach’s military experiences not only shaped who they are today, but influence and enhance the quality of care they provide to their patients at Women’s Health Specialists, and we are so thankful to have them. Thank you for your service, Doctors, and we are so grateful to have you on our team!

The physicians shared some photos of their time in the military, you can see them below.