May 2019 Power Player
Here at Power to Decide, we are committed to uplifting the many individuals who are on the ground doing the work that matters most. Each month we highlight an individual or organization who is championing the effort to give young people the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child. Check out this month's Power Player profile.
Jessica Grossman, MD
What work have you done to ensure that young women have access to high-quality sexual health information or high-quality contraceptive services so that they can decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child?
Since 2015, we have made our hormonal IUD, LILETTA, available at a low cost to public health networks across the country. Cost is often a barrier to IUD access, so making this option affordable to both clinics and patients is critical to overcoming that obstacle and expanding access for all women. In addition, we have partnered with other mission-driven organizations to help expand the reach of our programs. One such partnership is with Power to Decide and the Contraceptive Access Fund to ensure all women have access to the information and services they need in order to make informed decisions about their health.
How did you get started in your field? What is your driving force?
I always wanted to be a doctor. But as I entered residency, I got this nagging feeling that I wouldn’t be able to think big enough in my role as an OBGYN. I witnessed so many inefficiencies in the health care system, yet no one seemed willing to make a change. I felt as though there was no room for innovation or entrepreneurship at the time. I knew for certain that I loved women's health, I loved technology, and I wanted to create change within the industry. I also knew that I could leverage my training as an OBGYN to innovate and improve women’s health care. I moved out to Silicon Valley and set my sights on the outdated systems in women's health care that had frustrated me during my residency. I launched Gynesonics Inc. in 2005 to focus on minimally invasive solutions for women’s health. From the first day, I knew I had found my passion: creating innovation to support healthy women. From there, I went on to serve in various roles at organizations who were addressing needs in maternal and women’s health before joining Medicines360. I knew the med tech industry was the perfect fit for me. I had found my place among others who loved medicine and wanted to bridge the technology gap within the healthcare space. I continue to channel that passion every day as my motivating factor for doing this job.
What advice would you give to someone looking to effect change in the field that you currently work in?
At any point in your education or career, don’t be afraid to pivot. If you feel you’re being constrained on the path you’re on, create a new path. Recharting your path takes courage, creativity and tenacity. I am living proof that you can do it. You can forge a career path for yourself based on your passions. It might be bumpy, there might be twists and turns, but it is absolutely possible.
Why should someone care about ensuring that all people—regardless of who they are or where they live—have access to the information and contraception they need to live their best life story?
Empowering every woman to plan or avoid pregnancy leads to profoundly positive effects. Unplanned pregnancies are often associated with negative outcomes such as premature birth, maternal depression, and other lifelong health, economic, and societal difficulties. Access to contraception improves women’s opportunities for academic and economic advancement. In addition, women who have access to the full range of reproductive health care resources can better plan for their families and focus on their overall health and well-being. When women can choose the most effective forms of birth control, not only do unplanned pregnancy rates decrease, so do health care costs. It’s not just in the best interest of a woman to avoid unplanned pregnancy, but it also benefits her family, the economy, and society as whole.
Is there a highlight of your work in conjunction with our organization that you’d like to share?
At the end of 2018, we were excited to partner with Power to Decide to support the 19 million women living in contraceptive deserts in the US, which are counties without reasonable access to the full range of contraceptive methods. Together, we are offering information about clinics that provide low cost IUD options via Power to Decide’s Bedsider program. In addition, we are supporting transportation and child care costs for women with lower incomes via the Contraceptive Access Fund. The Fund recently launched and aims to also educate providers about quality contraceptive care. 2019 is sure to be an exciting year for both of our organizations, and I am so excited to bring this partnership to the women who need it most.