courtesy of the DeWitt Observer
DeWitt native, OB/GYN comes home to practice
When Jennifer Steines Wagemester was a little girl, her parents bought her a poster she hung in her bedroom that said, "Girls can do anything."
For Wagemester, that included becoming a doctor.
She's not exactly sure what inspired her decision to go into medicine.
Most likely it was a combination of things that played a role in Wagemester's choice of career. Her cousin was a nurse and always had great stories to share at family reunions. She enjoyed her anatomy and health classes in high school. As an athlete, at the high school and college levels, she suffered through knee injuries and surgery that gave her an up-close and personal look at how much doctors can do to help those in need.
Whatever it was, Wagemester chose to commit herself to the field of medicine.
Now the 1998 Central Community High School graduate and daughter of Clayton and Chris Steines of DeWitt is a doctor of obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) and will soon be seeing patients in DeWitt.
For Wagemester, being able to help women lead healthier lives is an honor and a privilege she doesn't take lightly.
Being able to do it in her hometown is the icing on the cake.
Wagemester, who recently moved to Long Grove with her husband, Mark, and two boys, 5-year-old Lane and 2-year-old Kade, enjoys seeing the familiar faces of former teachers and neighbors.
Most importantly, she and Mark love being closer to their families. After all, without their help, Wagemester is certain she wouldn't be where she is today.
"I was really fortunate that everyone I was surrounded by, my family, friends and teachers, were always supportive of my dreams and goals," Wagemester relates. "My family and I had no clue what medical school, residency and working in the field of medicine involved. If we did, I'm not sure I would be doing what I'm doing right now. Sometimes I think ignorance really is bliss and I believe things really do happen for a reason. I feel lucky no one ever told me I shouldn't or couldn't do something."
In the beginning, Wagemester considered becoming a physical therapist. But after enduring the experience of knee surgery and the painful recovery, she decided against it.
Wagemester studied as an undergrad at St. Ambrose University in Davenport. After graduating in 2002, she took off two years to conduct cardiovascular research at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. In 2004, she enrolled at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
When Wagemester started medical school, she considered either going into family medicine or becoming an orthopedic physician. It wasn't until she began her OB/GYN rotation that she knew she'd found her niche.
"I like this career for several reasons," Wagemester says. "I'm pretty ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and have a hard time doing the same thing over and over. I get to help women, which is great. I also get to see people from the time they're teenagers all the way through their 90s. My oldest patient is 92 years old. I get to deliver babies, operate and perform procedures and annual exams. The list is endless. I'm like a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. Every day and every call is completely different."
In 2012, after four years of residency at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Wagemester stayed on to work as a clinical assistant professor staff physician in the OB/GYN department until 2014.
Since August, she has been in private practice with The Group, Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialists, P.C., in Davenport.
The Group is expanding its services to DeWitt, and starting Tuesday, March 10, Wagemester will be seeing patients the second and fourth Tuesdays each month, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at GMC-DeWitt.
Patients may call The Group at 563-355-1853 to make an appointment.
Wagemester loves her job and says she is thankful to have the continued support of her family, in particular her husband, parents and in-laws, Leon and Deb Wagemester of DeWitt.
There are plenty of wives and mothers who struggle to juggle career and family. However, Wagemester's work schedule, or lack thereof, presents more unique challenges.
"There is no schedule in medicine," she says. "Once you've learned that, you learn to love your job. Doctors typically are on call 24 hours a day. Who knows what will occur during that time. On average, I'd say a physician works anywhere from 60 to 80 hours a week.
"You really need a supportive family to make it work. There is a quote I think about a lot, 'Don't confuse having a career with having a life.' I have two really great kids who were both born during my residency, so they don't know any different. I have a great husband who does a lot for our family and relatives who will help out at the drop of a hat. I by no means have this figured out, but have a lot of people to help me."
Wagemester admits there are times when the long hours, workload and unpredictable schedule become overwhelming.
But it's the little things that keep her grounded and grateful to be part of the medical profession. A simple hug, a "thank you" or a picture of a baby she helped deliver make it all worthwhile.
"My faith also helps to get me through," Wagemester relates. "I think God gives you gifts and talents and expects you to use them. This is what He chose for me. I have to remember I'm setting an example for my kids. My parents never told me I couldn't attain a goal. They only supported me. So I'm setting two examples for my boys. One, go get your goals, and two, never underestimate what a woman can do."