Meet Dr. Dominika Seidman, clinical researcher confronting complex problems

“I really like complicated medicine,” says Dr. Dominika Seidman. That’s not at all surprising when you learn about her work. An Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, she combines her work caring for patients with research to create big-picture change.

In partnership with HIVE and Solid Start, she co-founded a new roving prenatal program. This program embodies her commitment to addressing patients’ complex lives and helping them get the care they need. It’s designed to reach women who just can’t get to a clinic, such as those dealing with homelessness, substance use or mental health needs. She and her partners on the project pick strategic times to go to women where they are—places like methadone clinics or shelters—to bring them care. They also provide low-barrier, hospital-based, drop-in care when needed. It’s a new way to engage people who have histories of trauma or fear about healthcare systems.

This innovative clinical outreach melds with her research. She’s working on a large study in Florida testing ways to integrate offering HIV prevention and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) services into family planning care. PrEP is a daily oral medication that can prevent HIV. This study could help address women’s needs in a state that has one of the highest rates of new HIV infections among women.

One part of the study will look at ways to provide trauma-informed care, an important theme that runs through all of her work. She says ob-gyns often think about it in relation to gynecological exams, but care that is truly sensitive to trauma accounts for every aspect of a patient’s experience. “Every single interaction--from the moment a person makes an appointment (or doesn’t – she drops in), walks into the clinic, checks in, sits in the waiting area, sees clinic staff and providers, receives care, makes follow-up plans, leaves, and receives results – matters. We need to be thinking about how we can create a trauma-informed system.” Not many people have studied how to do this, and Dr. Seidman’s project provides opportunities to think about trauma-informed care as both a researcher and a clinician. “HIV prevention is the perfect area in which to think about this because so many women who are at risk for HIV have significant histories of trauma.”

Just as Dr. Seidman strives to understand the whole patient, her holistic identity as a clinician, researcher and advocate is essential to her success. “My clinical work informs my best research questions,” she says. “I am most fulfilled by my job when I can integrate clinical care, research, and advocacy into my work.” Her interdisciplinary approach, driven by curiosity and collaboration, is helping her push the boundaries of evidence-based and patient-centered care.