FACTS Teacher Series: Patricia Cudjoe, MD
Challenging Misconceptions, Educating Women
By: Louisa Wagner
Director’s Note: As part of our FACTS Teacher series, we highlight the diverse set of physicians and clinicians who contribute their time and expertise to help us educate the next generation of medical professionals via our FACTS elective. Our series continues with Dr. Patricia Cudjoe, a bilingual, Marquette instructor based in Maryland. Bringing her background in family medicine, she lends invaluable experience as a facilitator to our elective case study discussions. Learn more about Dr. Cudjoe by checking out her entry in the FACTS Physician/Clinician Directory. If you are an FABM-trained medical professional or educator, please apply here to join the directory.
Meet Dr. Patricia Cudjoe
One of the newest FACTS case study leaders is Dr. Patricia Cudjoe, a family physician and Marquette Instructor. Dr. Cudjoe has always had an immense passion for women’s health. The very catalyst to her medical career was hearing a birth horror story from her mother and thinking to herself at the age of 9: “I want to help women not go through that.” Now, she is in fact helping women tremendously by teaching medical students a more holistic approach to women’s health care through presenting case studies and educating women and couples on how to chart with the Marquette Method.
Dr. Cudjoe earned her undergraduate degree in biology from Hampton University. She then attended Howard University for medical school and completed her family medicine residency training at the University of Maryland, where she found herself drawn to caring for both mother and baby. During medical school and residency, Dr. Cudjoe even started her own beautiful family. She successfully balanced her roles, both personally and professionally, so she was able to complete her residency. Talk about a role model!
When Dr. Cudjoe began her career, she decided she would not prescribe contraceptives. She had the courage to remain strong in her convictions despite enduring pressure from attendings and colleagues. However, for two years, Dr. Cudjoe was at a loss to provide something else for her patients in an outpatient family medicine setting. After spending some time searching for options, she finally crossed paths with FACTS when her own Ob-Gyn connected her with Dr. Marguerite Duane, FACTS co-founder and executive director. Although she knew about fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs) during this time in her life, she was not trained in them, and therefore could not offer them as an option herself. Dr. Cudjoe remarked that many of her patients came to her complaining about the form of birth control they were on with no other options given. Dr. Cudjoe had heard this story time and time again and believed women deserved better.
“Dr. Cudjoe remarked that many of her patients came to her complaining about the form of birth control they were on with no other options given. Dr. Cudjoe … believed women deserved better.”
Eventually, Dr. Cudjoe left her practice and focused on her family. During this time, she became trained in the Marquette Method. Dr. Cudjoe is now a trained Marquette instructor who works one-on-one with women to improve their body literacy. Now, Dr. Cudjoe not only helps women understand their cycles, but she also uses her cases to teach the next generation of medical professionals about the importance of charting the female cycle, both as a sign of health and as an effective form of family planning.
For the last year, Dr. Cudjoe has been teaching case studies to an array of students. She believes that FACTS is doing important work reaching students who plan to pursue many different specialties, but who may not have had any idea about FABMs. Once these students started learning about these methods and seeing their applicability via these case studies, it sparked their interest. FACTS is also addressing the largest misconception about FABMs —that there is very little evidence for their effectiveness in comparison to contraceptives. In reality, there is a good deal of research demonstrating the effectiveness of FABMs, and FACTS focuses on sharing the science that supports the utility of these methods.
“She believes that FACTS is doing important work reaching students…who may not have had any idea about FABMs.”
Dr. Cudjoe is passionate about educating women in a manner that highlights how these methods are healthier for them in many ways, and there is quantitative data to support that. All doctors need to look at the whole patient and empower women to take health into their own hands. She ended her interview by making it clear that no matter how much pushback medical students receive, they must persevere. It is up to this next generation of doctors to have all of the best options to give their patients.
“Dr. Cudjoe is passionate about educating women in a manner that highlights how these methods are healthier for them in many ways.”
“There are so many more patients to come that will need better care,” Dr. Cudjoe said.” So many more cases that have yet to be treated and studied. All medical professionals should want to be educated on the best options for their patients.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Louisa Wagner is a recent high school graduate from Seton High School in Northern Virginia with a strong interest in female fertility. As she discerns her next career steps, she has accepted a role interning with FACTS and is excited to be learning more about women’s health and fertility.