August 7, 2019
Editor’s Note: The FACTS Advisory Council consists of a talented and diverse group of individuals whose guidance and support are crucial to the success of our organization. Being a member of our Advisory Council is a voluntary position and all their work with FACTS is a generous contribution of time and expertise. This year, we are featuring one of our Council members each month to highlight their unique contributions to our mission. Our series continues with Dr. Pamela A. Vnenchak, whose thoughtful commitment to evidence-based practices has been instrumental to the success of FACTS.
Meet Pamela Vnenchak, MD
Pam Vnenchak, MD is a Board-certified family physician and the new program director of the Penn Medicine/Lancaster General Health Family Medicine Residency Program. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Elizabethtown College with a B.S. in biology. In 1990, she earned her medical degree at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now known as Rutgers New Jersey Medical School). In 1993, she completed family medicine residency at Lancaster General Hospital, where she served as chief resident. Her clinical interests and focus center on the health of women and children.
Her Path to FACTS
Although the science supporting fertility awareness based methods (FABMs) was relatively new to Dr. Vnenchak when FACTS formed in 2010, her commitment to bringing evidence-based choices to her patients motivated her to continue learning about fertility awareness. Dr. Vnenchak was one of the attending physicians in the residency program where Dr. Duane, executive director and co-founder of FACTS, trained as a family physician. Reflecting on Dr. Vnenchak’s contributions to FACTS, Dr. Duane appreciates how “she takes time to listen, read the research, and provide critical feedback where appropriate to help FACTS ensure we share our message in a fair and accurate way.”
Dr. Duane recalls when Dr. Vnenchak attended her first FACTS meeting, “she saw the science, looked at the data, and updated a presentation she was giving at a conference on fertility options to reflect the research she had just learned through FACTS. This was six years ago, even before the CDC updated its data about FABM effectiveness rates.”*
Like many medical professionals who first learn about FABMs, Dr. Vnenchak was cautiously curious, allowing the science and solid data to spur her curiosity into further research. Through her role as an educator of physicians in training, this openness to new information sifted through critical analysis has helped more women and couples learn about fertility awareness while helping maintain our focus on the science of FABMs.
In Her Own Words
When asked why she feels it is important for the mission of FACTS to be accomplished, Dr. Vnenchak emphasized the value of giving women more choices. She explained, “I practice full-spectrum family medicine that includes maternity and women’s health care. My practice includes prescribing contraception medications and devices. I believe fertility awareness based methods round out the portfolio of family planning options for women.”
Reflecting on the unique focus of our organization, she added, “FACTS provides science-based education for health professionals, helping to dispel misconceptions about FABMs. As a medical educator, I believe it is important to expand the evidence behind the use of these methods, and I think FACTS is helping to expand this knowledge.”
Greatest Contribution to FACTS
Dr. Vnenchak is admired as a family physician, educator, and someone who cares about evidence supporting the options we offer our patients. “She has been fantastic ensuring we stay centered on our core mission of sharing the science of fertility awareness,” notes Dr. Duane. “She is steady, and believes this information (about FABMs) should be out there. She is not afraid to engage in honest intellectual debate through respectful dialogue regarding the research supporting FABMs. She criticizes when necessary and commends when appropriate, and we appreciate that.”
Her focus is on educating women about their healthcare and ensuring they are informed about all their options, including what is available through knowledge about fertility awareness and the science supporting the various FABMs. Dr. Vnenchak helps hold FACTS accountable to never oversell the success of FABMs while highlighting their tremendous potential and diverse applications in women’s health.
The FACTS Advisory Council consists of “intelligent academic proponents of women’s health who are willing to push back when necessary and launch us forward when needed,” adds Dr. Duane. We appreciate Dr. Vnenchak’s diligent presence and her thoughtful, informed emphasis on science. We are grateful to have her as an integral part of FACTS and our Advisory Council.
More About Dr. Vnenchak
After residency in family medicine, Dr. Vnenchak worked at Valley Family Physicians in Claremont, NH for three years. She served as assistant professor (clinical investigator) at the Family Medicine Residency at LaFayette Family Health Center in LaFayette, NY. In 2000, she returned to Lancaster General Hospital as a faculty member. Dr. Vnenchak serves as treasurer of the Board of the Family Medicine Education Consortium (FMEC). She and her husband have four children, including young adult triplets.
*Editor’s Note: For decades, 24% was listed as the unintended pregnancy rate for all natural family planning methods. The updated range of 2 – 23% for unintended pregnancy rates with FABMs acknowledges the fact that each method has its own effectiveness rate. As of 2019, the CDC now lists this evidence-based range of effectiveness rates in its materials and website.
PHYSICIANS AND MEDICAL STUDENTS!
DO you feel prepared to educate women & couples about FABMs?
DO you know the latest science about these safe,
effective options for family planning & health monitoring?
ARE you curious about the latest fem-tech?
Increase Your Understanding
of Fertility Awareness, the Female Cycle,
and their applications in Women’s Health
RESIDENTS and MEDICAL STUDENTS!
Would you like to enroll in our two-week ONLINE COURSE
to learn about fertility awareness based methods and their applications
in women’s health and family planning?
Here’s what your peers think about this unique opportunity…
“Using what I have learned in this course and will continue to study on my own, I plan to better educate adolescent patients and the mothers of my patients of all ages on the option and benefits of FABMs. I believe these methods are underutilized and incredibly beneficial for many patients. I also hope to introduce medical students to the benefits of FABMs, as these are not covered adequately within most medical school curricula.”
— Makenzie Hamilton, DO (participated in FACTS elective as a 4th year medical student)
Find out more about this elective and enroll HERE!