Ryan Spencer, MD, MS, FACOG
Associate Professor (CHS)Residency Program Director, Director of Fellowship Program for Division of Gynecologic Oncology
|B.S.||Brigham Young University, Provo, UT|
|M.D.||Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY|
|Residency||Harvard Integrated Residency Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA|
|Fellowship||University of Wisconsin/University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison, WI|
|M.S.||University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI|
American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology - General Obstetrics and Gynecology
American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology - Gynecologic Oncology
UW Health Rising Star Leadership Award
UW Health Rising Star Clinical Award Nominee
OB/GYN Residency Teaching Award,
UW Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
SGO/GOG MentorshipProgram Funding Award,
Society of Gynecologic Oncology
Karl A. Rudat Award,
UW Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
National Rural Health Association
Society of Gynecologic Oncology
American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Fellow
American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Diplomate
American Society of Clinical Oncology
Gold Foundation for Humanism in Medicine Society
Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society
Funding disparities in gynecologic cancers, health care disparities and improvement in quality of care, and quality of life interventions for cancer patients
Residency Program, Rural Residency Track and Resident Research Program
Dr. Spencer became the Residency Program Director in 2019 after spending time as both the associate Program Director of the residency and the Gynecologic Oncology fellowship. He has been the director of the Rural Residency Track since 2018 – the first-of-its-kind ob-gyn program in the country.
He spent a number of years cultivating the Resident Research Program in the department and has developed both the Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Programs for the Ob-Gyn residency and Gynecologic Oncology fellowship, as well as the Wellness Programs for both.
UW Ob-Gyn resident Connor Wang, MD, PGY-4, is the lead author on new research in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology!
In “Trends in public- and industry-funded uterine cancer clinical trials and disability-adjusted life years from 2007 to 2019”, Wang and co-authors Shannon Rush, MD, Shitanshu Uppal, MD, Laurel Rice, MD, and Ryan Spencer, MD, MS queried a database to determine the number of years lost to death or disability from endometrial cancer along with the number of new clinical trials opened each year from 2007-2019.
This study showed that when taking into consideration societal cancer burden metrics, endometrial cancer has undergone a significant decline in the relative number of available clinical trials in the prior 13 years for which data is available. This data can be used to help shape policy around funding for endometrial cancer clinical trials.
Read the whole study here!
Ryan Spencer, MD, associate professor in the UW Ob-Gyn Division of Gynecologic Oncology and director of the UW Ob-Gyn Residency Program, presented at the 2022 Association of Managers of Gynecology and Obstetrics annual meeting in Chicago!
Spencer presented “Rural Residency Programs” to a full, attentive room during a one-hour session on Monday, September 26. Incredible work, Dr. Spencer!
A new article from UW Ob-Gyn resident Rachel Mojdehbakhsh, MD, PGY-4 was published in Gynecologic Oncology Reports! Co-authors on the article include UW SMPH medical student and Shapiro Summer Student Carolina Hurtado and Ryan Spencer, MD, MS, associate professor in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology.
In “The long game: Telemedicine patient satisfaction metrics and methods of recurrence detection for gynecologic cancer patients throughout the initial year of the COVID-19 pandemic”, Mojdehbakhsh and co-authors used a survey study and retrospective cohort study of patients who received telemedicine care between April 2020 and March 2021:
“We demonstrated a persistence in high patient satisfaction rates with telemedicine over one year into the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, patients overwhelmingly welcomed ongoing use of telemedicine in practice. Our findings are in accordance with a growing body of literature that patient reported symptoms are the most used method of detection and therefore amenable to telemedicine surveillance.”
Read the whole study here!
On August 31, 2022, UW Ob-Gyn Residency Program Director Ryan Spencer, MD, MS presented at the Rural Residency Planning and Development / Teaching Health Center Planning and Development Grantees Annual Meeting in Chicago.
Spencer presented “Creating an Effective Resident Evaluation System” on the second day of the three-day event for recipients of grants to expand their rural training opportunities. As you may remember, Spencer is the Central Hub Lead for the Rural Residency Program Development Technical Assistance Center (RRPD-TAC), funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration.
Incredible work, Dr. Spencer!
Huge congratulations to UW SMPH phase II medical student Hailey Milakovich, who gave an oral plenary presentation at the 2022 Society of Gynecologic Oncology Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer!
Milakovich presented “What’s the Value of a Pelvic Exam? Endometrial Cancer Surveillance in the Era of Telemedicine.” The presentation was featured in the SGO Women’s Cancer News, a daily briefing on important gynecologic cancer research and updates sent to all members of the SGO.
Ryan Spencer, MD, MS of the UW Ob-Gyn Division of Gynecologic Oncology, was the faculty mentor on this Shapiro Summer Research project.
Congratulations to Ryan Spencer, MD, MS, associate professor in Division of Gynecologic Oncology, director of the Gynecologic Oncology fellowship, and director of the UW Ob-Gyn residency program! Spencer was nominated for the UW SMPH Dean’s Excellence in Medical Student Mentorship Award.
These awards recognize faculty members who exemplify dedication and excellence in medical student research mentorship. One of Spencer’s mentees recently brought a poster to the Society of Gynecologic Oncology Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer in Phoenix!
Congratulations, Dr. Spencer!
On March 9, 2022, members of the UW Department of Ob-Gyn discussed funding for women’s health research with members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation during a virtual advocacy day organized by the Women First Research Coalition.
In conversations with Senator Tammy Baldwin and Representative Mark Pocan, department Research Manager Andrea Zorbas, MBA, MS, Residency Program Director and gynecologic oncologist Ryan Spencer, MD, MS, and retired chair Laurel Rice, MD discussed the pressing need for increased research funding focused on women’s health.
Requested support included expanded funding from the Department of Defense and the National Cancer Institute for ovarian and endometrial cancer research, expanded investment in career development programs, studies to identify gaps in women’s health research funding, and more.
UW Ob-Gyn faculty, residents, and affiliated medical students with interest and expertise in medical education showcased their work at the CREOG/APGO Annual Meeting! The conference, which was organized around the theme “Together Again, Together Forever: Med Ed Family Reunion”, took place in Orlando, Florida March 9-12. Some of the exciting highlights from our department:
Ryan McDonald, MD, of the UW Ob-Gyn Division of Academic Specialists in Ob-Gyn, graduated from the APGO Academic Scholars and Leaders Program! Read more about his experience in the program and how UW Ob-Gyn Faculty Development Funds supported his training!
Laura Jacques, MD, director of medical student education and assistant professor in the Division of Academic Specialists in Ob-Gyn, presented during the breakout session “Getting the Right Ingredients for Your Sauce: An Innovative Tool for Applicant-Program Compatibility”. (Presenters: Seine Chiang, MD, Jesse Rafel, MD, Jenci Hawthorne, MD, Jennifer Hamm, MD, Laura Jacques, MD, Lauren Holt, Medical Student)
Jacques and Ryan Spencer, MD, MS, residency program director and gynecologic oncology fellowship director and associate professor in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, presented during the breakout session “A Crying Shame: A Structured Debriefing Workshop to Reduce Second-Victim Syndrome in Obstetrics and Gynecology Residents”. (Presenters: Laura Jacques, MD, Beverly Gray, MD, Samantha Hoffman, MD, Tamika Alexander, MD, Jessica Francis, MD, Ryan Spencer, MD, MS)
Jacques also co-authored the oral abstract “The More Cooks in the Kitchen the Better the Sauce? Impact of an Abortion VCAT Workshop on Medical Students”. (Authors: Elise Cowley, Medical Student, Jessie Chen, MD, Jessika Ralph, MD, MSCI, Allison Linton, MD, MPH, Sarah Hutto, MD, MPH, Laura Jacques, MD)
People in the department also brought many posters to the conference, including one that received second place in the conference poster awards!
Congratulations to the authors of “Ingredients for teaching confidence: A Fourth-year medical student clinical teaching elective”, which earned second place in the CREOG/APGO Annual Meeting Poster Awards! Authors: Kristen Kreh, John Poehlmann, Katharina Stewart, Amy Godecker, Laura Jacques
“Opinions at the Thanksgiving Table: A comparison of medical student and resident attitudes about abortion” – Jessie Chen, Elise Cowley, Jessika Ralph, Amy Godecker, Daniel Pellicer, Laura Jacques
“An Educational Program to Implement a Well-Validated Screening Tool for Opioid Use Disorder in Pregnancy” – Ryan McDonald, Samantha Haefner, Kaley Gyorfi, Heidi Brown
Congratulations to all on an impressive showing at the conference!
As of February 1, 2022, Ryan Spencer, MD, MS, is the new director of the UW Ob-Gyn Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship! Spencer takes over for Division of Gynecologic Oncology Director Stephen Rose, MD, who has led the fellowship since 2011.
Spencer has served as Associate Fellowship Director since 2017 and has been invaluable in supporting our fellows and the program in that time. Spencer will continue in his role as Ob-Gyn Residency Director, allowing seamless collaboration and oversight of trainee programs in our department.
Congratulations, Dr. Spencer!
Access to ob-gyn health care in rural Wisconsin has trended downward over the last couple decades. In this interview with WTMJ-TV Milwaukee, UW Ob-Gyn Residency Program Director Ryan Spencer, MD discusses the motivation behind creating the first rural ob-gyn residency training track in the country.
In “UW Health hopes to curb rural Wisconsin’s OBGYN shortage”, UW Ob-Gyn rural resident Madeline Wetterhahn, MD, PGY-3 also talks about what drew her to the rural residency:
""Part of my inspiration for wanting to go back is my dad, who is a family medicine doctor in way northern New York. And, seeing the impact that he had on his community and seeing how his patients interact with him - whether it's at a grocery store or a restaurant or a school meeting - all of that has played into why I want to do that," she said."
Check out the whole story here.
UW Ob-Gyn Residency Program Director Ryan Spencer, MD, has been appointed as the Central Hub Leader for the Teaching Health Center Technical Assistance Center. In this role, he will oversee the development of new residency programs in Teaching Health Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in the Central U.S.
The center is funded by a HRSA grant for $3.5 million over a 3-year period. The center is part of a three-institute consortium in partnership with the University of Washington (home of the Western U.S. Hub) and the University of North Carolina (home of the Eastern U.S. Hub).
Learn more about the Teaching Health Center Technical Assistance Center here. Congratulations, Dr. Spencer!
In June 2021, Laura McDowell, MD became the first graduate of the first rural ob-gyn residency program in the country when she finished her residency training in the UW Department of Ob-Gyn. Following graduation, McDowell moved to Willmar, Minnesota to join a general ob-gyn practice.
Her experience as a rural ob-gyn physician is highlighted in this story from KSTP in Minneapolis:
“McDowell is the first graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology rural track program, a first of its kind in the nation. For six months of her four years of residency, she spent time in rural communities across Wisconsin.
“What stood out to me was, well, certainly there are providers out in these locations but some of them were only one provider and not necessarily by choice,” she said. “Just the storage of having OB-GYN physicians in these locations was a concern.””
In the story, UW Ob-Gyn Residency Program Director Ryan Spencer, MD also discusses the shortages in ob-gyn physicians in Wisconsin and beyond that make rural training programs so crucial.
Watch the whole story here!
UW Ob-Gyn Residency Program Director Ryan Spencer, MD, has been appointed to be the Central Hub Lead for the Rural Residency Program Development Technical Assistance Center (RRPD-TAC). The RRPD-TAC is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
The grant provides $4.6 million of total funding over four years. In this role, Dr. Spencer will oversee the development and sustainability of rural residency programs funded through HRSA across all specialties throughout the central United States. HRSA provides approximately $11 million of funding each year to initiate new rural residency programs.
The center is part of a three-institute consortium in partnership with the University of Washington (home of the Western U.S. Hub) and the University of North Carolina (home of the Eastern U.S. Hub).
Learn more about the RRPD-TAC here. Congratulations, Dr. Spencer!
As the state of Wisconsin celebrates National Rural Health Day on November 18, 2021, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology would like to thank the physicians and partners across Wisconsin who are training future ob-gyn physicians in rural practice.
The UW–Madison Department of Ob-Gyn created the first rural ob-gyn residency training track in the country to help address shortages in the ob-gyn workforce. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration, the U.S. currently faces a shortage of 9,000 obstetrician-gynecologists nationwide. The shortage is expected to grow to 22,000 by 2050. One in three Wisconsin counties and one in two counties nationwide do not have a practicing ob-gyn.
As part of the rural ob-gyn residency track, residents spend some of their training time at rural hospitals in the region. While on these rotations, the rural track residents get hands-on experience providing ob-gyn care – including prenatal and obstetric care, gynecologic cancer screenings and management of complicated gynecological problems – to people in small communities.
“Rural training for ob-gyn residents has an important role in increasing the number of physicians prepared for rural practice, and addressing the growing rural-urban disparities in women’s health outcomes,” says UW Ob-Gyn Residency Program Director Ryan Spencer, MD. “We are grateful to work with so many amazing physicians statewide to provide this training opportunity.”
Partnerships with these health care organizations and individuals are invaluable in providing the training experience necessary to prepare rural ob-gyn residents for their future practice:
Aspirus Divine Savior Hospital (Portage, WI) – Brenda Jenkin, MD
SSM Health Monroe Hospital (Monroe, WI) – John Bazley, MD; Jeffrey Dinges, MD; Joseph Ehle, MD; Bibiancy Gutierrez, MD
Waupun Memorial Hospital (Waupun, WI) – Dr. Scott Hansfield
Western Wisconsin Health (Baldwin, WI) – Dennis Hartung, MD; Steven Verbeek, MD
Dr. Jackie Luthardt joined the UW Department of Ob-Gyn in July 2021. Currently in her first year of rural ob-gyn residency training, she has this to say about the program:
“The patient-physician relationship in a rural setting is truly something special and there is such a strong need for providers in these areas,” Dr. Luthardt says. “The rural OB track provides the best of both worlds with academic resources and the opportunity to give back to a rural community during residency, learning to utilize my resources and recognize my limitations that will better prepare me for a future career as a rural ob-gyn.”
Though the UW-Madison rural ob-gyn residency was the first in the nation, residency programs around the country are developing their own rural ob-gyn training tracks. The first trainee recruited to the UW’s rural ob-gyn track, Dr. Laura McDowell, graduated from residency in June 2021. Dr. McDowell is an ob-gyn with Carris Health in Willmar, MN. Current rural ob-gyn residents include Dr. Alexa Lowry, Dr. Madeline Wetterhahn, Dr. Kaley Gyorfi and Dr. Jackie Luthardt.
A new study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology compares operative times in the American College of Surgeons’ National Surgical Quality Improvement Project with physician-reported operative times from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to assess for the impact on RVUs.
“Discrepancies Created by Surgeon Self-Reported Operative Time and the Effects on Procedural Relative Value Units and Reimbursement”, by Ryan Spencer, MD, MS and UW Ob-Gyn Department Chair Laurel Rice, MD is a cross-sectional review of registry data. The study found:
“Despite reliable electronic records, the AMA-RUC continues to use inaccurate self-reported RUC surveys for operative times. This results in discrepancies in RVU per hour (and subsequent reimbursement) across specialties and a persistent disparity for women-specific procedures in gynecology. Relative value unit levels should be based on the available objective data to eliminate these disparities.”
Read the whole paper here.
Ryan Spencer, MD, of the UW Ob-Gyn Division of Gynecologic Oncology, has studied differences in funding for gynecologic cancer research compared to other cancer types for several years. His work led to the publication of the study “Disparities in the allocation of research funding to gynecologic cancers by Funding to Lethality scores” in Gynecologic Oncology in 2018.
In a National Institutes of Health hearing in May 2021, Spencer’s research was referenced by Representative Lois Frankel as part of her questions for National Cancer Institute Director Ned Sharpless, MD.
You can watch Rep. Frankel’s questions here!
At the virtual 2021 ACOG Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting, UW Ob-Gyn Residency Program Director Ryan Spencer, MD joined a panel of experts to discuss rural health.
During the clinical seminar, Spencer discussed the importance of supporting pipelines to bring ob-gyns to rural areas, and of building clinical partnerships between rural and urban practices to facilitate local knowledge-sharing.
Incredible work, Dr. Spencer!
Ryan Spencer, MD, of the UW Ob-Gyn Division of Gynecologic Oncology, was promoted to Associate Professor (CHS) by the School of Medicine and Public Health CHS Faculty Appointments and Promotions Committee, effective July 1, 2021.
Spencer joined the UW Department of Ob-Gyn in 2012 as a gynecologic oncology fellow. After finishing his fellowship, Spencer joined the Division of Gynecologic Oncology faculty in 2015. In addition, Spencer is director of the UW Ob-Gyn Residency Program and associate director of the Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship.
Congratulations, Dr. Spencer!
A quality improvement study by lead author Rachel Mojdehbakhsh, MD, PGY-2, was published in Gynecologic Oncology Reports. Co-authors include Stephen Rose, MD, Megan Peterson, DNP, Laurel Rice, MD, and Ryan Spencer, MD, all of the UW Ob-Gyn Division of Gynecologic Oncology.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic that began in early 2020, industry organizations like the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommended transitioning some appointments to telemedicine. Mojdehbakhsh’s study, “A quality improvement pathway to rapidly increase telemedicine services in a Gynecologic Oncology clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic with patient satisfaction scores and environmental impact”, outlines efforts at the UW Carbone Cancer Center’s gynecologic oncology clinic to move appointments to telehealth platforms over a short period of time. The study also assessed patient satisfaction with telemedicine visits, and environmental impact of moving visits online.
“With multidisciplinary team planning and standardized note templates, transitioning 50% of encounters to telemedicine and achieving high rates of consent documentation were accomplished in four weeks. This increase in telemedicine represented a measurable decrease in the amount of CO 2 emissions. Additionally, patients were overwhelmingly satisfied.”
Read the whole study here – incredible work, Dr. Mojdehbakhsh and Gyn Onc division team!
Three faculty from the UW Department of Ob-Gyn were honored at the UW Health Physician Excellence Awards ceremony on December 7, 2020. The virtual ceremony recognized recipients of 17 excellence awards across the health system. Recipients in our department:
Luther Gaston, MD, of the Division of Academic Specialists in Ob-Gyn, received the UW Health Physician Excellence Rising Star – Clinical Educator Award, which recognizes outstanding educators, with significant emphasis on teaching residents and medical students, as well as other interdisciplinary team members, patients and their families.
Kara Hoppe, DO, of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, received the UW Health Physician Excellence Rising Star Clinical Practice Award, which honors outstanding clinicians who demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to safety and quality patient-and-family centered care.
Ryan Spencer, MD, of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, received the UW Health Physician Excellence Rising Star – Leadership Award.
Congratulations to these wonderful physicians!
Congratulations to Ryan Spencer, MD, of the UW Ob-Gyn Division of Gynecologic Oncology! Spencer earned the 2020 UW Health Physician Excellence Rising Star – Leadership Award!
Spencer and other awardees will be honored in a virtual ceremony coming up December 7, 2020. Congratulations, Dr. Spencer, on this well-deserved achievement!
Incredible news out of the UW Ob-Gyn Rural Residency track! The program was awarded a Wisconsin Department of Health Services Grant for Rural GME Training. Residency Program Director Ryan Spencer, MD, will serve as PI on the grant.
The DHS grants are intended to “increase access and enhance quality care in rural Wisconsin” by supporting education and training to help rural health care organizations fill important positions. This award is critical for ensuring the financial sustainability of the UW Ob-Gyn Rural Residency track for years to come.
Launched in 2017, the UW Ob-Gyn Rural Residency track is the first rural training program for ob-gyn residents in the country. Many thanks to former residency program director Ellen Hartenbach, MD, for starting the program, and residency program manager Jody Silva for working to secure this grant for the UW Ob-Gyn Rural Residency.
On September 23, 2020, members of the UW Ob-Gyn residency team led the panel discussion “Increasing the Rural OB/GYN Pipeline: a Pathway for Rural Track Training”, presented by the Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology!
Residency program director Ryan Spencer, MD, program manager Jody Silva, M.Ed, and resident Laura McDowell, MD, PGY-4 presented to over 40 residency program directors and department chairs from across the country. They were also joined by Denny Hartung, MD, a training partner from Western Wisconsin Health.
As the first residency program in the nation with a rural training track, our residency team presented data with perspectives from key stakeholders on how to develop and maintain rural ob-gyn training programs. This talk was especially important in light of increasing disparities in rural women’s health care.
On September 10-11, the UW Ob-Gyn Division of Gynecologic Oncology hosted the first-ever Heartland Association of Gynecologic Oncology (HAGO) meeting. More than 70 gynecologic oncology professionals tuned in for the virtual conference, which included two keynote presentations and 21 research abstract presentations.
HAGO was founded in 2020 by UW Ob-Gyn Division of Gyn Onc Director Stephen Rose, MD, and the program committee included Ryan Spencer, MD and UW Ob-Gyn Gyn Onc fellowship graduates Andrea O’Shea, MD and Shitanshu Uppal, MD.
Of the 21 abstracts selected for presentation, five were from our department (Matthew Wagar, MD with mentor Sumer Wallace, MD; Wagar with mentor Makeba Williams, MD; Shannon Rush, MD with mentor Steve Rose, MD; Rachel Mojdehbakhsh, MD with mentor Ryan Spencer, MD; and Connor Wang, MD with mentor Spencer).
UW Ob-Gyn Gyn Onc fellow Shannon Rush, MD earned the first Award for Clinical Research for her abstract “65 Revisited: A Revised Markov Model for Evaluating Oophorectomy at the Time of Hysterectomy for Benign Disease”!
Lisa Barroilhet, MD was also an invited distillation presenter and UW Ob-Gyn Department Chair Laurel Rice, MD gave a keynote address and received the inaugural HAGO Award for Service and Leadership.
Our congratulations to everyone involved in planning and preparing the HAGO Conference – incredible work!
September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month. On this episode of the Women’s Healthcast, Ryan Spencer, MD, of the UW Ob-Gyn Division of Gynecologic Oncology, joins us to talk about endometrial cancer, the most common gynecologic cancer in the United States.
In the episode, Spencer covers risk factors for endometrial cancer, what diagnosis and treatment look like, and ways to reduce the risk of developing this type of cancer. He also discusses his research into the national funding disparity for gynecologic cancers compared to other types of cancer.
Listen to “Endometrial Cancer” now!
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