By: Catherine Yeh for Uterus1
Brant D. Barr, M.D. is an OBGYN and the former Medical Director at Cannon Valley Clinic of Mayo Health System in Faribault, Minnesota. He received his Doctor of Medicine at George Washington University Medical Center in 1983. Dr. Barr became a board certified gynecologist in 1988 after completing his residency at Phoenix Integrated Residency Program in Obstetrics and Gynecology in Arizona. He is a fellow of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Medical Association, and Minnesota Medical Association. Currently he lives with his wife in Faribault, Minnesota. Dr. Barr has spent a lot of his time volunteering. He has participated as co-chairman of the Rock Island Art Festival for the Faribault Art Center, the Shattuck-St. Mary’s School Board of Trustees, and the Rice County Family Interest Advisory Group. His most noted experience was in South Africa for Health Volunteers Overseas, this year.
Uterus1: When most people think of what a gynecologist’s occupation entails, they think of pap smears. Obviously that’s not the only thing a gynecologist does, so to begin with can you tell me what your job is all about?
Dr. Barr: It ranges anywhere from prenatal care to emergency room delivery…c-section…infertility…bleeding problems…pelvic pain…fibroids….anything having to do with the female reproductive system
Uterus1: What is your main focus?
Dr. Barr: I kind of have a 50-50 split between OB and GYN.
Uterus1: What are you most passionate about at work right now?
Dr. Barr: I think the most fascinating thing at work is the changes that have occurred in the surgical aspect of gynecology. My practice is completely different than it was when I first started. At that point I was doing hysterectomies – hormonal therapy would fail for bleeding problems. And they didn’t have many options. We would do a hysterectomy either vaginally or abdominally. Now we do it through a laparoscope. I also do more and more ablation.
Uterus1: You mentioned that hormonal therapy would fail back then. Do you still do hormonal therapy?
Dr. Barr: Yes, if the bleeding is not severe and the patient understands the risks involved, and she does not want to go under in a surgical procedure. As I get older I am more conservative – but I’ll certainly give it a try if they decide that. Most women, however, will talk to a friend of theirs who has had ablation, and they will come back and ask for that procedure. So most of them will bypass the hormone therapy.
Uterus1: And who would you give the hormone therapy to?
Dr. Barr: A younger patient that may want to have children. Others will be candidates because of their age (30s and 40s) and their smoking status. Smokers are not candidates.
Uterus1: What do you mean by you’re “more conservative” as you get older?
Dr. Barr: I think when you first come out of training, you love to operate – you tend to gravitate towards what you like. But after twenty years, you think more about complications, and look at what is simpler.
Uterus1: A hot procedure right now is in-office HTA. Do you use it and can you give us your impression on this procedure?
Dr. Barr: I have to be honest with you, the first time I saw someone do it was January of this year. And I was really skeptical; I didn’t think it could be done. I saw two procedures done and one of them was done on a woman who was quite anxious and jumpy. But she got through it and it made me recognize that if we picked the right patient, the procedure could be done. So I think the biggest thing is picking the right patient. I don’t want anyone who has a low pain tolerance, is highly anxious, or maybe has other major medical problems [to have the procedure]. Patients usually tell me what their pain tolerance is like. Usually I get that information on how they were during childbirth and how they reacted with the anesthesia.
Uterus1: So when you pick the right patients, what are positive results, and have you seen this procedure go wrong or have negative results?
Dr. Barr: I haven’t had any complications as of yet in the office. I have had, in the office, a patient overnight for pain control. I have had a couple of patients come back, but most of the women who have done it in the morning, tell me at about 5 or 6 o’clock the switch turns off and their pain is mostly gone. As a whole there have been very positive results. I didn’t think it could be done initially and I have been very pleasantly surprised.
Uterus1: What is the most common question you get from your patients about the in-office HTA?
Dr. Barr: I think one of the things to tell the patients right up front is, “I can’t guarantee that you won’t have any periods anymore.” For about 43 percent there have been very positive results, but there is a small percentage – 35 percent – that will have some bleeding. They often also ask how uncomfortable it will be, how much time they will have to spend out of the office, and what are the potential risks involved.
Uterus1: You are involved in many community activities. Can you share with us which one has impacted your career the most?
Dr. Barr: I went to South Africa this last year. That has been eye-opening, and a wonderful experience. I come back appreciative of the nursing care/administrative health we have here, and the good care we give back. I went to the Nelson Mandela hospital to volunteer – it was overwhelming and rewarding. I wish all my colleagues could do it. You learn about being a student and you really do come back with appreciation.
Uterus1: What is the toughest part of being an OB/GYN?
Dr. Barr: The hours…the calls are the hardest. And also when you have to give bad news, especially in the surgical aspect.
Uterus1: What is the most rewarding part about your job?
Dr. Barr: The patients…it’s what we do and it’s a lot of fun. It’s stressful at times but it’s also a lot of fun. It’s great to know what’s going on in their lives, and see them back for their annuals every year. I imagine soon enough I’ll be delivering for those I’ve delivered before.
Uterus1: So you’ve touched many lives.
Dr. Barr: Yeah, and they’ve touched mine. It’s been a really fun experience.