National Doctors’ Day: Meet Dr. Anthony Shanks

March 30, 2018
Topics: Riley Staff Profiles, About Us

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Dr. Anthony Shanks with Dr. Misty McDowell (left) and Dr. Tiffany Tonismae (right)

Ever wonder if your gift to Riley is really making a difference?

As we celebrate National Doctors’ Day (March 30) it is a pleasure to introduce you to a physician in a high-demand specialty who Riley was able to recruit only because of donors like you.

Born in Jeffersonville, Ind., Dr. Anthony Shanks was raised in Hawaii before returning to Indiana.  He completed college at Purdue University, went to medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine (where he met his wife), then completed his residency and fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis. In November 2015 Dr. Shanks joined the Riley Maternity and Newborn Health team as a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist. 

Dr. Shanks, a father of two who describes himself as someone who loves teaching and learning, not only cares for mothers with high-risk pregnancies, but also serves as program director for the OB/GYN Residency Program and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship. Here’s a glimpse into his work:

Q: What is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist (MFM)? What types of patients to you see?
A: A Maternal-Fetal Medicine is a specialist that takes care of women with complicated pregnancies. We get involved when there is a high-risk condition for either the mother or the baby. A few examples of the types of expectant mothers we care for are those with: high blood pressure; diabetes; congenital heart defects; clotting disorders; history of preterm birth; lupus; and complicated or higher-order (triplets or greater) multiples. We also see a lot of mothers whose babies are prenatally diagnosed with congenital defects such as heart problems and spinal cord defects. 

Q: Why are MFMs important?
A: We not only take care of the highest-risk moms and babies, but we also serve as gatekeepers of new techniques and information for Ob/Gyns all across the state. MFMs are actively involved in research and education and our hope is that we set the standard of care using an evidenced-based approach for all of these conditions. One of the things I do routinely is go out into other communities such as Lafayette, Bloomington, South Bend, Muncie and Madison. I meet with the obstetricians there, share our best practices and give feedback on patients they have transferred to us. It’s important for our team to help local physicians in communities across the state become better aware of when their patients need a higher level of care and should be sent to a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist. It’s not ideal if you are delivering in a place that is not set up to deal with complications. Time matters. If you can diagnose a problem and coordinate the plan in advance, that’s a huge advantage.

Q: What are the most rewarding parts of your work?
A: I love the teaching aspect of my job, both with residents and fellows, and patients.  I’m always interested in how we can deliver information better. When it comes to patients, I try to take the time to explain concepts so they can fully understand. They are frequently overwhelmed, and you have to break things down. I also love that our field is unique in that there are always two patients – the mom and the baby. Every interaction has its own set of circumstances. You have to work with that family to determine the best way to help them understand their medical situation.

Q: What message would you like to share with Riley Children’s Foundation donors?
A: You are helping Riley make huge waves nationally, and your generosity is a commitment to the women and babies who we serve. Riley Maternity and Newborn Health will be looked on as a benchmark for the nation. That is our goal. We are setting standards that will guide care throughout the region. 

Riley Blogger

The Riley Blog is written and/or edited by members of the Riley Children's Foundation Communications Staff.

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