Director of Global Women’s Health and Associate Professor at University of Minnesota Medical School
Early in her academic career at Franklin & Marshall College, Dr. Rahel Nardos realized her professional direction when one of her mentors, Professor of Psychology Michael Penn, invited her to co-author “Overcoming Violence Against Women and Girls: The International Campaign to Eradicate a Worldwide Problem,” published in 2003.
The research and writing opened her eyes to women’s issues, specifically one specialized field, and Dr. Nardos decided to set out and make a difference in the health and well-being of women.
For Dr. Nardos, now director of global health for Oregon Health & Science University’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, this was her first step in a compelling journey that took the graduate with degrees in biology and psychology through Yale University School of Medicine and Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia in the capital of Addis Ababa, her hometown.
Dr. Nardos went to Hamlin Fistula during her residency, where L. Lewis Wall, a medical doctor and social anthropology scholar, encouraged her to consider urogynecology. The practice, a surgical subspecialty, addresses problems associated with the dysfunction of a woman’s pelvic floor and bladder. In countries like Ethiopia, availability of such procedures was rare, often non-existent. Nardos returned to the United States, trained in pelvic medicine and reconstructive pelvic surgery at OHSU, and learned to care for women with disorders caused by childbirth and aging.
Dr. Nardos’ dedication impressed Wall, the founder of the Worldwide Fistula Fund. At OHSU, Nardos founded Footsteps to Healing, a global women’s health initiative that provides surgical services to rural Ethiopian women with pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence. Her organization partners with the WFF, Hamlin Fistula Hospital and Mekelle University in Ethiopia to provide pelvic floor surgical care. The partners increased care in Sub-Saharan Africa by creating a Pelvic Floor Training program for local clinicians, nurses and physical therapists so that they can provide continued care of women. Wall invited Dr. Nardos to join the WFF, and in 2017, she was elected the organization’s secretary.
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