Dr. Katria Mertz, OB-GYN
By Lottie Poe Duey for The Register Guard
Since October 2008, Dr. Katria Mertz, obstetrics/gynecology physician, has been practicing with the Center for Women’s Health (Oregon Medical Group). “Coming to the Eugene-Springfield area, I was able to make a smooth transition from my residency in Albuquerque to a robust women’s health care practice,” states Mertz. “As a physician practicing here, I appreciate being able to offer my patients a variety of birthing options at two high caliber facilities.”
Along with a choice of facilities, Mertz also brings to her patients the unique experience of having an OB-GYN physician who has practiced as a certified nurse midwife. Dr. Mertz completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology at American University in Washington, D.C. She planned to become a physician and was put on a waiting list for acceptance to medical school. In the interim, she worked on research projects in her hometown at the University of Miami (Florida).The medical research she did was not always in a laboratory, and often took her on the road to the San Blas Islands, off the coast of Panama, and to Puerto Rico. Her travels afforded her the opportunity to work with people from a variety of cultures and with a variety of health care needs.
While her work at the University of Miami Medical School, provided her with a wide range of experience in the medical research field, Dr. Mertz decided she wanted to do something more directly involved with patient care. With this in mind, she began a Master’s program at the University of Miami School of Nursing that would lead to a Master’s Degree in Nursing and Midwifery.
Once her nurse midwife education and training were completed, Dr. Mertz worked for the next year with one of her nurse-midwife mentors in a private practice. She delivered at two hospitals in the South Miami area.
Although she found being a nurse/midwife very rewarding, Dr. Mertz still felt her true calling was to be a physician. In 2000 she was accepted into the Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami. After completing her studies at the University of Miami, she decided to do her physician residency in the OB-GYN field at the University Of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. It was a case of love at first sight.
“I chose the residency in Albuquerque because the philosophy and training there aligned well with my nurse-midwife background. As a doctor, I believe it is important to provide mothers-to-be with options that not only meet their medical and health needs, but also provide them with a personal birthing experience that respects their cultural beliefs and values.”
At the University Hospital in Albuquerque, physicians specializing in obstetrics and gynecology work closely with nurse midwives in a collegial, collaborative atmosphere. During their first year, residents rotate shifts to work in collaboration with a number of different nurse midwives, and towards the end of their four-year residency, they act as consultants to those same midwives. If her initial experience with Albuquerque was a case of “love at first sight,” Mertz states, “My continuing experience was one of an extended honeymoon, or at least as much of one as can be expected during an OB-GYN residency and life with our daughter, Ella, born one year into my residency.”
After completing her residency, Dr. Mertz and husband Paul Khoury eventually decided she would practice in Eugene. She followed in the footsteps of several colleagues, in particular Dr. Geoff Gill, who had also completed his residency in Albuquerque. One factor that influenced their decision was having Mertz’s cousin, Steve Mertz (part-owner of Laughing Planet) living in Eugene. They were also attracted to the progressiveness of Eugene. Last, but not least, they were particularly fond of the idea of continuing their experience in Albuquerque (definitely not possible in Miami) of living mosquito-free lives in a setting with such beauty and with so many opportunities to pursue all kinds of outdoor experiences. Mertz accepted a position with the Center for Women’s Health, and moved here with her husband and their now 4-year-old daughter, Ella in the fall of 2008.
“I love what I do and hope that I can empower women with the knowledge of (and trust in) their (own) bodies,” concludes Dr. Mertz. “Working with women as an OB-GYN gives me the security of being prepared for emergencies and the wisdom of trusting the natural process of childbirth.”