March 28, 2022/Leadership

Meet Tristi Muir, MD, Chair of Ob/Gyn & Women’s Health

The future looks bright for technological advances and community health

Tristi Muir

In December 2021, Tristi Muir, MD was named chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Ob/Gyn & Women’s Health Institute. Board certified in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, Dr. Muir previously served as Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Houston Methodist Hospital. She earned her medical degree from Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minn., and completed her residency at Texas A&M Health Sciences Center, Scott and White Hospital. She completed a dual fellowship at Cleveland Clinic in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery and advanced laparoscopic surgery.

In an interview with Consult QD, Dr. Muir reflected on the changing landscape of women’s health since she has been in the field, and on the importance of expanding high quality healthcare to all communities.

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Q. What drew you back to Cleveland Clinic?

A. From my time in the fellowship here, I knew about Cleveland Clinic’s stellar reputation and its focus on patient care. I was just very impressed during my time here. When I learned about the Chair position opening up, I looked more into the work that was being done in women’s health, as well as the goals of the health system to lead in arenas of patient care, innovation, education and the caregiver experience. I also gave a lot of thought about the next 10 years, and the tremendous impact we can make in women’s lives.

Q. You also served in the U.S. Air Force. Tell us about that experience.

A. The U.S. Air Force facilitated me being able to financially survive on a resident’s salary while supporting a family of six. After completion of an OB/GYN residency, I was an active-duty captain fortunate to obtain leadership very early on as the chief of ambulatory gynecology in the largest gynecology clinic in the Air Force. Working side by side with the Chilean Air Force physicians, I was also able to travel to Easter Island to provide gynecologic care to the local population.

Q. How was the experience of working within a military culture?

A. My military experience was very valuable and important to me. It allowed me to give back to my country and develop a deep understanding, respect and gratitude for the sacrifice with men and women in the military experience. There are always operational challenges with a big organization and a loss of autonomy with being in the military, but overall it was an incredible experience.

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Q. We know you’re excited about the surgical advances occurring within the realm of women’s health. What are some the developments that you find most encouraging?

A. The surgical technologies I’ve seen develop over the last 20 years, since I was a fellow at Cleveland Clinic, are just incredible. Robotic surgery was truly in its infancy then, and now it’s a mainstay of gynecologic surgery. That’s incredible. We are doing uterine transplants and fetal surgery. We have an incredible surgeon in our institute who is performing gender affirmation surgery. Our experts in every area of obstetrics and gynecology and dedication to education have allowed us to offer a world-class OB/GYN residency and fellowships in multiple areas of the specialty.

Q. You’ve been involved in humanitarian missions throughout your career. Can you say more about that work?

A. In the past five years, I’ve gone to Haiti two times, providing healthcare in a remote town in the mountains, operating and seeing patients in the clinic. I enjoy educating Haitian physicians on surgical procedures and introducing standardizations, such as a surgical “time-out” to improve quality and safety. Operational challenges were common in Haiti. Our team of physicians brought medical supplies to perform surgeries and donated many of these to the hospital. We additionally faced challenges such as loss of electricity during a surgical case. These experiences certainly challenged me to quickly pivot in innovative ways!

Q. Why is that important to you to do this work?

A. In addition to giving back on a local level, I think it is important do so for the global community and to help train people who live there and are doing the work every day. We’ve been so fortunate to receive the medical training that we receive in this country, so it’s important to share that and bring some of the best practices to a country and to providers who haven’t had the opportunities we have had. Service is at the center of being a doctor. I believe this dedication to service extends beyond the Cleveland Clinic exam rooms, into our local and global communities .

Q. From a health perspective, what else interests you in regard to serving communities?

A. One of the things that I’m very excited about is Cleveland Clinic’s focus on lowering infant mortality in the local community. The Cleveland Clinic has a focus on the healthcare of women and children, which I applaud. I am proud to work at an institution with a dedication to improving not only the lives of people seeking our services, but the lives of all in our community.

Q. What are some of the strategies that may be helpful in these efforts?

A. We have a dedicated team of physicians, midwives, nurses, social workers and administrators who are excited to reach out into the community to provide care in areas where infant mortality is above the national average. Through education, access to healthcare, and community workers, we hope to lower the healthcare risks to mothers and their infants in a sustainable way.

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