Janet Ko, MD, is Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery. She sees patients at Einstein Physicians Women’s Associates for Healthcare, which has offices in East Norriton, Collegeville and King of Prussia, and also at Genuardi Family Foundation Maternal Health Center in Norristown. She is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and holds the title of Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Thomas Jefferson University.
We spoke recently with Dr. Ko about her career, her interests, and obstetrics and gynecology at Einstein.
Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A: I grew up with both parents and several aunts and uncles as doctors. Being in the medical field was the norm, so I honestly didn’t know or think about any other careers for a long time. I thought my uncle had the most exciting job. He was an OBGYN and delivered babies in a small town in upstate New York, near Buffalo. He had delivered most of the babies there and everyone knew him, and I thought it was wonderful to be such an integral and beloved part of the community. Bottom line – I’ve always wanted to be someone who contributes to society in a constructive way, so medicine was the right path for me.
Q: Tell us about your education.
A: For starters, I am not new to the Einstein family. Following completion of my medical degree from Memorial University Faculty of Medicine in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, I completed my residency in OBGYN at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia. I served as chief administrative resident during my last year of residency.
Einstein was a great fit for me, and I continued as an attending physician in OBGYN at Einstein Philadelphia for the next 14 years, also serving as a member of the teaching faculty in the Department of OBGYN. I was heavily involved in teaching our residents and medical students.
Q: Why did you choose your specialty of OBGYN?
A: I like working with my hands, delivering babies or doing surgery. I also really like interacting with people, so the field of OBGYN is a perfect balance between using my hands and getting to know people on a long-term basis.
Q: What are your clinical interests?
A: I get a lot of personal fulfillment from treating teenage patients. When they meet me, it can be one of their first independent encounters with the medical field. They are at such a unique time in their lives and they are this interesting mix of strength and vulnerability, and full of ideas. I learn a lot from them. I have watched many of my teenage patients as they grow up and progress to all of the different stages in their lives. I am growing older along with them, and it is wonderful to experience it with them.
Q: What drew you to Einstein?
A: I did my residency at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia because I wanted to train in a busy urban environment. I had every intention of moving back to the South (where I am from) when I completed my training. That was 18 years ago and I haven’t left, and wouldn’t dream of it now! Einstein Philadelphia is a big, bustling place, and in a short time I felt like I was part of a family and loved it.
When the opportunity arose to advance to the position of Chief of OBGYN at Einstein Montgomery, I welcomed the challenge and started there this past July. I can easily say that I learned something from every person I have worked with at Einstein. Now I have moved a short distance away to my new family at Einstein Montgomery, where I have the opportunity to apply the skills that I learned and be useful here.
Q: Why should people choose Einstein for their OBGYN care?
A: Einstein is full of incredibly talented and dedicated people. Everyone in the OBGYN Department works well as a team, and this translates into excellent care for our patients.
For instance, at Einstein Montgomery labor and delivery is collaboratively managed by certified nurse midwives and obstetricians working together, so patients benefit from the expertise of both. This is a unique partnership and one that is not available everywhere. Our doctors and nurses are outstanding when it comes to patient care and are deeply committed to ensuring that our patients have an excellent childbirth experience.
Our OBGYN providers and midwives have expertise in every stage of a patient’s life – starting in the teen years all the way to the post-menopausal stage. Our aim is to develop a bond with patients that lasts through the different stages and milestones of life.
Q: Are there any new developments in OBGYN care?
A: When it comes to GYN care, we are in the era of minimally invasive surgery. Most of our hysterectomies are being done laparoscopically, which enables the inpatient time and recovery time to be significantly reduced. We have many skilled GYN surgeons with extensive experience helping patients make the right decision on choosing the best option. We also have many alternatives to hysterectomy.
In the OB arena, we continually review and analyze ways to keep our C-section rate low, and I’m proud to say that Einstein Montgomery’s C-section rate is lower than the state and the national average. Our obstetricians and midwives focus on how to help our patients have the best birth experience possible, all with the ultimate goal of having a healthy patient and healthy baby.
We have started to do outpatient inductions of labor for low-risk patients, which can significantly change the patient experience. This means that if the induction patient comes to the hospital to get checked and meets the criteria, we start induction of labor. Then the patient goes home and comes back the next morning, when true labor has begun, to deliver the baby.
This approach means that patients remain in the comfort of home during the earlier stages of labor and it shortens their time in the hospital.
Q: What are your interests outside of work?
A: I love hiking. My pre-pandemic life included taking a big hiking trip every year to a faraway, off-the-grid place, where there are no texts and no technology. I have hiked Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Toubkal in Morocco, and Ciudad Perdida in Colombia. My last trip was one month before the pandemic began, to Patagonia on the southernmost tip of South America, close to Antarctica.
These trips keep me grounded and help me relax and see things from different perspectives. Aside from these special hiking trips each year, I do try and hike every weekend. It’s a safe activity that helps keep me active, and I like exploring different trails in the area.
Q: Who was an early role model for you?
A: Christa McAuliffe. When I was in eighth grade, she was a teacher who trained to be an astronaut and was chosen to be on the Challenger space shuttle crew. The launch took place during my science class, and we watched it broadcast live on television.
Tragically, the shuttle exploded very soon after it launched, killing all the crew members on board. It was shocking to see, and it was the first time I saw one of my teachers cry. Had the voyage not ended with this tragedy, Christa McAuliffe would have been the first teacher in space.
Q: Do you have a favorite book or author?
A: My favorite author is Terry Pratchett. He’s a British “comic fantasy” author. His books are based on an alternate world that mirrors our society and are very funny and satirical, complete with dragons, wizards and dwarves that make fun of the modern world we live in.
Q: Do you have a favorite movie?
A: I have three favorite movies: Top Secret, UHF, and Napoleon Dynamite. (I like weird comedies!)
Q: Is there a person you’d particularly like to meet?
A: Yes. I would have loved to have met Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I would have asked her so many questions about what it was like to live her life and what she saw as her most important achievements.
Q: What is something that most people don’t know about you?
A: I used to play the piano quite seriously when I was young. I even won a concerto competition and soloed with an orchestra when I was 15. That was a totally different life. Now my piano has been sitting untuned for the past 15 years.
Learn more about obstetrics and gynecology at Einstein.