Advance with MUSC Health

OB/GYN Finds Practicing Medicine is an Honor and a Privilege

Kat Hendrix, Ph.D.
September 28, 2021
Kristen Matsik, M.D., Associate Professor and Obstetrician Gynecologist (OB/GYN) at MUSC Women’s Health.

Kristen Matsik, M.D., Associate Professor and Obstetrician Gynecologist (OB/GYN) at MUSC Health Women’s Health was drawn to her specialty by the opportunity to form lasting bonds with her patients. “I love following my patients over a long time and then delivering their children.” While she has delivered many babies during her career, Matsik clearly remembers the first. “I was a resident and it was three in the morning–I was on something like the 20th hour of my shift,” says Matsik. “At the time, it was really rare for a resident to be allowed to deliver a baby, but I got that chance and it was like magic. It was so amazing and almost spiritual. I thought, ‘Wow! What a privilege this is!’ Ever since then, I just feel like it is such an honor.”

Matsik comes to MUSC Health after twenty years in private practice in the San Francisco Bay area where she was also an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Francisco. She completed medical school at Virginia Commonwealth School of Medicine and did her residency training at University of Florida Health Jacksonville. She sees women of all ages in her practice and has special interests in adolescent gynecology, high-risk obstetrics, and sexual health. This year, she became credentialed as Certified Menopause Practitioner by the North American Menopause Society. 

Having grown up in Richmond, Virginia, Matsik is excited about being back on the east coast, closer to family, and in a large academic teaching hospital. “I chose to leave private practice because I really wanted to continue teaching and to be involved in the vibrant academic atmosphere that we have here at MUSC Health,” says Matsik. “I love grand rounds and being around the residents–the opportunity to be in an environment of continuous learning is really exciting to me.”

She took a year off from her practice to relocate across country, and, for the first time in her life, had time to explore a wide range of interests. But Matsik found she missed working. “I kept busy, but it was a different kind of busy,” says Matsik. “I joined a tennis team and a boating club. I volunteered at my church and my children’s schools. But it made me realize that medicine is the only thing that really stimulates me. I’m going to be one of those physicians who never retires,” she laughs. “It’s all a balance. I love spending time with my children and going to the beach–I have a lot of hobbies–but nothing does it for me like medicine.”

Matsik also finds that having many years of accumulated experience has deepened her appreciation for obstetrics and gynecology. “It becomes more and more meaningful as I get older,” she says. “When you start out, in your 20s, it’s more of a job. You’re fearless and you don’t think too much about the risks. As you get older, you realize how precious life is and you become more aware of how precarious what you do can be, because the longer you practice, the more complications you’ve seen. You realize what can happen,” she says.

In fact, Matsik is still in touch with a former patient who had a life-threatening complication. “I was in the middle of a really busy clinic day and the nurse midwife called me in to take a look at her patient. She was 28 weeks pregnant and had a growth on her cervix that hadn’t been there on her initial exam,” says Matsik. “Most of the time, we’d think it was just a normal polyp, but, for some reason, I ordered a biopsy and it came back as a very rare, aggressive cervical cancer.” The patient underwent a cesarian hysterectomy and, despite having a poor prognosis, she survived. Now, many years later, she is cancer-free and has two children. She still stays in touch with the gynecologist who saved her life. “Every time we see each other we cry,” says Matsik. “She is really a miracle case. Seeing her now with children is so, so rewarding.”

It is the opportunity to have that type of meaningful role in someone’s life that motivates Matsik to keep practicing despite being in a specialty that is known for its difficult, long hours. She recalls something a mentor in medical school once told her that she’s never forgotten. “He said, ‘It’s intense, but when you look back at your life, you’ll certainly feel like you’ve spent it doing something worthwhile’. Being involved with women at some of the most important moments of their lives is really what it’s about for me,” she says.

Dr. Matsik sees patients at MUSC Health Women's Health Daniel Island, MUSC Health's North Area Medical Pavilion and MUSC Health Women’s Health at Resolute Way. If you would like to make an appointment with her or refer a patient, please call 843-792-5300.