Originally from New York City, I have lived in Virginia since 1985 and continuously in Charlottesville since 1989. I am married to Mark Farrington who is a Clinical Nurse Specialist working for the Veterans Administration, both in Richmond and Charlottesville, providing mental health care to Vets. I have borne one son, Seth, and have three children through marriage, Aaron, Megan and Santana.
I have been involved in providing women's health care since 1983 in various roles. Birth care is what first pulled me, and this is what ultimately led me to Georgetown University where I graduated in 1987 with a Masters Degree in Nurse Midwifery. Along the way I attended New York University where I received a B.S. in Nursing in 1985 and Hamilton College where I received a B.A. in Film and Photography in 1979.
What continues to intrigue me over the years is finding the right healthcare path for each patient. You can have all the knowledge in the world about diagnosing and treating a person, but until you know the person, you can't really provide them with the best care. It's in the bringing together of these two sphere's of knowledge where I believe optimal healthcare and patient satisfaction are found. Who a person is, what in life brought her to this place, what are her challenges and strengths, what are her beliefs related to healthcare, all of these when understood enables me to fully work with her to mutually develop a plan of care uniquely for her. This is why I schedule hour long appointments. You need the time to understand the whole of the person.
Photo by Ashley Twiggs
When I graduated Georgetown, initially I worked in the District of Columbia health department in Adams-Morgan caring for predominantly Latin American women. I provided pregnancy and birth care as well as gynecology care--which has been true of all my work, until I gave up birth care in 2006.
After the birth of Seth, I moved back to Charlottesville where in 1990 I joined Albemarle OB/GYN. In that year I became the first nurse midwife to attend births in a Charlottesville hospital, at Martha Jefferson Hospital. That was both an exciting and challenging experience. I continued in that practice until 2000, when the sole physician/owner relocated.
At that time I founded WomanCare--my own practice with it's focus on women's healthcare. I continued attending births through affiliation with Obstetric and Gynecology Associates and the kind support of Siva Thiagarajah MD. In 2006 I retired from birth care, though I retain my consultative relationship with Dr. Thiagarajah in my gynecology practice. I stopped attending births for a number of reasons, the short answer is, it was the right time in my life to shift the emphasis of my care.
My philosophy of healthcare is patient focused. Meaning that the locus of control in decision making is as far on the patient side as she desires. "Locus of control" means what person is making the decisions--the patient or the provider. In my work this means that the patient is educated about her health status, is offered options and then through discussion is supported in finding the best course of care for her. In a traditional MD/ patient relationship, the MD makes the decisions giving more or less information, but no decision making control to the patient. Happily this is starting to change within many medical practices. Sadly the time constraints in most medical practices challenge this process.
My diagnosis and treatment approaches, as I have said are individually tailored. I draw on my western medical training along with my intuitive skills in diagnosis. My treatment options draw from these as well as herbal, lifestyle, nutritional homeopathic and personal therapy approaches. I do write prescriptions where indicated and desired. I can order lab work and imaging tests, again where indicated and desired. I refer to Acupuncture, Massage Therapy, Alexander teachers, Physical therapists, Chiropractors and Medical Doctors as indicated and desired. We all work together and at best, bring all our skills to guide, care for and heal the people who come to us with their trust.
In birth, relationships and life, if you are not clear about your path and goals and are not willing to consider your personal challenges or blocks, then it is very difficult to move forward. In my many years of practice I have developed my skills in clarifying and supporting my patient's and their partners through major life transitions. I find this work very satisfying and effective. It is in carrying this work forward that I have decided to complement my women's healthcare practice with Life and Health Coaching.
Profile of Claudia Sencer on Martha Jefferson Hospital site. On their website click Find a Doctor, and then search for Sencer, Claudia.
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