Judy C. Chang, MD, MPH
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences and Internal Medicine; Assistant Dean of Medical Student Research
Biography: Judy Chang is a gynecologist and a women’s health services researcher at the University of Pittsburgh. Her passion is to ensure that humanism remains a core component of medicine, health, and health care. In pursuit of this, Judy performs research on patient-provider communication in obstetrics and women’s health and facilitates workshops teaching medical students, residents, and other health providers communication skills. Much of her research focuses on challenging issues such as intimate partner violence, perinatal substance use, and mental health. Her work often uses community-based participatory research strategies and qualitative methods. She teaches a course on qualitative methods and advices students in the pursuit of scientific inquiry as an Assistant Dean of Medical Student Research. At all levels—for providers and patients, in education and clinical practice—she emphasizes the centrality of empathy, space, and safety.
What was your earliest ambition?
As a child, I remember cycling through a variety of careers whenever asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Interestingly, I do not recall that being a doctor was among the first set—those were actress, dancer, news reporter. I do remember, though, that when I fantasized about what type of super powers I would want if I could become a super hero—I really thought the most compelling would be the ability to heal.
What was the best career move?
For me, my best career move pursuing training in health services and public health research after residency. While I loved the practice of both obstetrics and gynecology and loved caring for patients, I recognized fairly early in residency that I needed an additional outlet for my constant curiosity and questioning regarding why we practiced the way we did and how we could make this better. I also need to feed the social activist within me and by ensuring that I would be active on complicated and complex social issues such as domestic violence, mental illness and addiction. Choosing a career path as a health services researcher with a focus on patient-provider communication research was the absolute best thing I did—this allowed me to circle back to my liberal arts roots and incorporate all of my passions and skills.
What poem, song, or passage of prose would you like mourners to hear at your funeral?
Passage from the Little Prince: “All men have stars, but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems... But all these stars are silent. You-You alone will have stars as no one else has them... In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night..You, only you, will have stars that can laugh! And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me... You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure... It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh”
Summarize your personality in three words
Loving, optimistic, determined
Where are you the happiest?
Anywhere surrounded by wonderful people, loved friends/family, or beautiful scenery.