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Dr. Heath Miller: Caring for the next generation

Dr. Heath Miller estimates he’s delivered around 3,000 babies over the course of his 22-year career as an OB/GYN. Now he’s seeing the adult patients he helped welcome into the world as newborns.

Being part of this full circle of care for patients is exactly why Miller chose to join UW Medicine in 2018. He wanted to help train the next generation of doctors.

After completing his OB/GYN training at UW Medical Center, Miller worked for the Navajo Nation for a few years before returning to Seattle. He spent a majority of his career at Swedish, including 10 years as the Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology. During that time, he specialized in minimally invasive surgery while also providing general women’s health and maternity care.

In addition to his current practice at the UW Medical Center-Roosevelt Clinic, Miller will be offering a full range of OB/GYN services at the new UW Neighborhood South Lake Union Clinic starting July 1.

Now, having returned to where he began his medical career, Miller reflects on what inspires him as a doctor, how he approaches patient care and what he enjoys about UW Medicine.

What inspired you to pursue a career as an OB/GYN?

I went to medical school wanting to be an OB/GYN. The long arc of care that you give as an OB/GYN is basically over 30 years of these women’s lives. It’s a unique relationship that develops. You take care of many of their general medical needs, you help to deliver their babies, you get to share in some of the most precious life experiences. You can provide the procedures and surgeries that people may need during their reproductive lives and after. It’s wonderful, honestly.

Why did you decide to join UW Medicine?

From a professional perspective, and after so many years at Swedish, I wanted to come back to be more engaged in residency education. I was attracted to the academic environment where I could spend more of my time on teaching.

On a personal level, there are so many world-class patient care staff members here, and to be part of it is an awesome privilege.

How has women’s healthcare changed during your career?

The biggest evolution in women’s healthcare is minimally invasive surgery and robotics. Patients can go home the same day in many cases and get back to their lives quickly. And for women’s healthcare, UW Medicine has the most up-to-date facilities in the city. There’s access to the entire spectrum of cutting-edge technology here, and the staff is exceptionally qualified and supportive — it’s a real team. We’re moving the ball forward.

Are there any memorable moments that stand out in your career?

Patients being pleasantly surprised and pleased with their minimally invasive procedure has always meant a lot, especially when they say things like, “I have my life back” or “My pain is gone.” I do also fondly remember delivering many babies at sunrise, as the light came over the North Cascades into the room.

What do you find most fulfilling about your work?

The relationships I develop with patients. Being able to provide a service. Teaching the OB/GYN residents so that they can continue to care for the patients in our community. And I find it special when I’m out in public and a person comes up and says, “You delivered my baby!” I probably enjoy that the most.

 

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