Meet the Institute’s new Reproductive Health Research Director

December 12, 2016


As our new Reproductive Health Research Director, Dr. Susan Rubin, MPH will be overseeing the many different reproductive health research activities being conducted across the Institute. She will also be involved in mentoring three of our clinical research fellows. We asked her about her career in family medicine as both a clinician and a researcher.

Institute for Family Health (Institute): Can you describe the work you were doing before coming to the Institute and give a general overview of your new role?

Susan Rubin, MD, MPH:  I’ve held a number of research and clinical positions since my family medicine residency from 2001-2004 at the Beth Israel (Mount Sinai Downtown) residency program.  Post residency I joined Montefiore Medical Center first as a Family Planning Fellow from 2004-2006, then as an Empire Clinical Research Investigator Program (ECRIP) Fellow from 2007-2009. After my fellowships I stayed on as a faculty member in the Research Division of the Department of Family and Social Medicine at Montefiore where, among other things, I had a NIH funded career development research grant to explore ways to improve adolescent’s access to full scope contraception care in primary care.

In terms of my clinical work, I’ve worked in school-based health at George Washington High School, at Fordham Family Practice (Montefiore affiliated), and at Westside Family Medicine (private practice).

In my new role as the Reproductive Health Research Director, I’ll be supporting Linda Prine and the Women’s Health team on a number of projects including the implementation and evaluation the NYC Department of Health funded project to improve family planning services within the Institute, training clinicians to provide full-scope contraception care, mentoring the three Women’s Health ECRIP fellows, developing new research and assisting research already in progress.  I also care for family medicine patients at the Amsterdam Family Health Center.

Institute: As an alumni of the Beth Israel (Mount Sinai Downtown) residency program and a long-time collaborator with Institute faculty, what excites you the most about being an attending faculty at the Institute?

Susan:  I’m excited to return to my family medicine “roots”.  Although I officially left the Institute in 2004, I’ve continued to collaborate with Institute faculty members and residents on research projects.  People at the Institute do so much great clinical and advocacy work.  I’m looking forward to being a part of this mission-driven organization and disseminating results from the work done at the Institute.  I also look forward to working with learners on a regular basis.

Institute: Can you describe your career in research and highlight some of your studies and results?

Susan: Since residency I’ve conducted health services and clinical research focusing on improving provision of reproductive health services within primary care.  My Family Planning Fellowship research was a mixed-methods study examining 750 female patients’ receptivity to the provision of full-scope reproductive health services in the primary care setting.  During my ECRIP Fellowship I collaborated on Dr. Diane McKee’s NIH R21 study of confidential care for urban adolescents and  conducted local and national projects related to the IUD. My local project was the first in the literature to describe U.S. patients’ perceptions about IUDs. The national project ascertained family physician’s knowledge, attitude, and clinical practice with IUDs via a survey of 3,500 physicians.

My research training and strong research mentor support resulted in my NIH NICHD funded career development project titled “Improving long-acting reversible contraception access for adolescents in urban primary care”.  This project used an implementation science framework to develop primary care provider behavior change interventions to increase the proportion of adolescents in primary care whose physicians offer and/or insert either IUD or implantable contraception as well as the full range of other contraception options. I have collaborated with and mentored colleagues, residents, and students’ research projects looking at many different aspects of reproductive health services. These include qualitative interview studies with adolescents around contraception choice and decision process, quantitative surveys of family physicians about the clinical practice with contraception, and a retrospective chart review study with Drs. Ravi and Prine of IFH patients’ use of IUDs or implantable contraception.

I am a firm believer that research must be conducted by a team and with rigor.  My success as a researcher was and is only possible through continued mentorship and mentoring. I am also a firm believer that results must be shared both with the people who contributed to the research process as well as with the larger medical community and other stakeholders.

Institute: What are the areas of research that currently interest you the most?

Susan:  I am interested in assessing and disseminating the work being done within family medicine and FQHCs with a particular focus on reproductive health care.  We’re doing great clinical care and training. I want to “show” the value of that care and training to the larger stakeholder community. I am cognizant that we have to carefully consider how and what we’re measuring as “meaningful outcomes”.  I would also like to develop a more robust practice based research network (PBRN) within the Institute in order to conduct more pragmatic clinical research without putting undue burden on already busy and burdened clinical sites.

Institute: As a mentor for ECRIP fellows and a former ECRIP fellow yourself, what do you believe is essential for family medicine providers who want to become competent in clinical and population health research?

Susan:  There are many ways to be involved in research.  On most projects only one or two people contribute to the bulk of the work, but many people contribute to the research process overall.  For example, busy practicing clinicians probably don’t have time to write a grant proposal but they can get involved in data collection at their clinical site.

ECRIP fellows and others who may want to lead their own research need a different level of time commitment and effort into the research process.  Essential components for developing a career in research include: explicit research mentoring, connection to a research community, sufficient protected time, and an internal drive and commitment to the research process.

Institute: What do you like to do when you aren’t researching or seeing patients?

Susan:  When not working on my paid job, I’m often spending time with my 11 year old daughter Lucia.  We try to do one thing every weekend that makes it “worth” living in NYC (there are many things that make it “worth” living in NYC).  When taking time for myself I like to connect with friends, practice yoga, ride my bike, spend time outdoors, and ponder how to achieve better balance in my life and in this world.

Institute: Are there any other things you would like our community to know about you?

Susan:  I look forward to meeting more Institute employees.  I’d really like to collaborate with people conducting clinical health services research.  If any of what I wrote resonates with you, I hope you reach out:

For more information about the Institute’s clinical research fellowship program and how to apply click here.

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