Time Spent as a Patient Drives Local OB-GYN to Treat Patients as Neighbors
Paul Schuellein, M.D.
Sentara Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists, Division of Albemarle Physician Services - Sentara, Inc.
Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB-Gyn)
“I am a firm believer that people should have access to care in the regions where they live and work,” says Paul Schuellein, M.D. “I joined Sentara because they agree with this basic philosophy. They allow me to fulfill my calling—to provide the best care possible to patients who are also my neighbors.”
Dr. Schuellein joined Sentara Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists, Division of Albemarle Physician Services – Sentara, Inc., in 2015. He has more than two decades of experience providing obstetrics and gynecology services to patients. Dr. Schuellein performs routine to complex procedures, including laparoscopic hysterectomy.
“I do bread and butter obstetrics and gynecology, and treat more complicated conditions as well,” says Dr. Schuellein. He helps women stay healthy through all phases of life—adolescence, pregnancy and through menopause. “In many ways I serve as a primary care physician in the sense that I get to know and care for patients over a long period of time.”
“Of course, delivering babies is a joy. It is an amazing thing to take part in each and every time,” says Dr. Schuellein. He delivers babies at Sentara Albemarle Medical Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He also partners with his colleagues at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital if a pregnancy is high-risk and needs a higher level of neonatal care.
“Fortunately, most of my patients have healthy and normal pregnancies and deliveries, therefore not requiring travel to Norfolk,” says Dr. Schuellein.
For his high-risk obstetrical patients, Dr. Schuellein co-manages their care with maternal fetal medicine (MFM) specialists in Norfolk. This partnership allows patients to receive the bulk of their care close to home, despite having extra needs. Sentara eCare®, the Sentara electronic medical record system, allows Dr. Schuellein to communicate with these specialists, resulting in seamless care for patients.
Personal Experiences Influence His Care Philosophy
Dr. Schuellein credits his personal health experiences with his decision to pursue medicine. “I have been blessed with specific skills and experiences that make me a good doctor,” says Dr. Schuellein. “Every day, I call on those to serve my patients, my community and my hospital.”
He suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a genetic bone disorder. People with this disease have bones that break more easily.
“Growing up I had countless broken bones and I spent a lot of time in the hospital. I had many surgeries, underwent traction and spent time in a wheelchair. At one point, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever walk again,” says Dr. Schuellein.
“There was one experience that solidified for me the importance of good patient care. A physician I didn’t know came in and manipulated my leg that was just operated on. It hurt. I was scared, and I was mad. I vowed then and there to be a better kind of doctor.”
Communication is Key to Good Care
Dr. Schuellein believes his own experience as a patient gives him the ability to better communicate with his patients. He knows what it’s like to sit in the patient’s seat.
“I was a patient long before I was a doctor. I haven’t forgotten my good and my bad experiences. They shape how I treat patients,” says Dr. Schuellein. “I know patients want to be not only listened to, but heard.”
“I take the time necessary to understand any concerns or problems my patients have. I explain things to them in a way that’s easy to understand,” says Dr. Schuellein. “That’s what the doctor patient relationship is all about—getting to know someone and developing trust. It makes for a satisfying experience for the patient and for the physician.”
Patients also have an opportunity to develop relationships with Dr. Schuellein’s partners Robert Holt, M.D. and Lindsay (Paul) Stevenson, M.D. at Sentara Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists. Drs. Schuellein and Stevenson care for obstetrical and gynecological patients. Dr. Holt sees gynecological patients and offers urogynecological services in the region.
“Dr. Holt, Dr. Stevenson and I work very well as a team,” says Dr. Schuellein. “Obstetrics patients know that either Dr. Stevenson or myself will deliver their baby. They get to know both of us so they are very comfortable when delivery day comes.”
After Hours, It’s All About Family and Giving Back
A self-declared family man, Dr. Schuellein has been married to his wife for 27 years. They have three children. “Family is so important to me,” says Dr. Schuellein. “We always find ways to spend quality time, even though I’m on call so often.”
“My wife and I volunteer with an organization called the Rose Buddies,” says Dr. Schuellein. “We are a group of people from multiple churches that do mission work at the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. We go almost every year to help out.”
Locally, Dr. Schuellein volunteers as medical director for the pregnancy resource center. His wife, Kelly, works there as well.
Dr. Schuellein completed his medical training at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed his residency at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia. He spent 17 years in practice in Rocky Mount, Virginia, before joining Sentara Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists in Elizabeth City. Dr. Schuellein is board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.