Sept. 22--Dressed stylishly and accenting her outfit with an eye-catching,
chunky turquoise bead necklace, Briana Walton could be a retail executive or a
boutique owner. But, those two letters after her name -- M.D. -- signify she
chose a different path.
"I always knew I wanted to do something with my hands. My dad encouraged me to
be a professional. I liked learning about the sciences, anatomy and cutting
things open," explained Walton.
The doctor is the director of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery
at Anne Arundel Medical Center. With AAMC since 2008, the 43-year-old has
offices in AAMC's Clatanoff Pavilion in Annapolis and at AAMC's brand new center
During her undergraduate years at Prairie View A&M in Texas, and later while
seeking her medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of
Medicine, the young woman realized she wanted to pursue a surgical specialty.
She considered geriatrics and urology. Nearing her third year of medical
training in obstetrics and gynecology, Walton was offered the opportunity to go
into urogynecology, a novel and innovative field.
She leapt at the opportunity when invited to be the first fellow in a brand-new
three-year fellowship program in the division of urogynecology and pelvic
reconstructive surgery at Harvard Medical School at Mount Auburn Hospital.
After Harvard, and before she was recruited by AAMC, Walton was director of
benign gynecology at Washington Hospital.
"Urogynecology is a nice marriage of all the areas -- genital and the urinary
and rectal tracts," she said. "We can take care of the whole package:
incontinence, prolapse, fibroids, fecal or bowel dysfunction and recurrent
infections. Pelvic pain touches on a lot of different areas."
Walton is the co-star, with vascular surgeon Dr. John Martin, of AAMC-TV's
down-to-earth, straight-talking talk show, "docsTALK." The duo has been taping
the show segments in front of live audiences for two years.
Topics, delivered in a conversational back-and-forth with guests, have included
weight gain issues, guy problems, knee and hip replacement surgery, spine
alignment, breast cancer, heart disease and acid reflux. After each taping, the
doctors have break-out sessions with the audience.
Dr. Martin said: "Briana has tackled a very challenging field of medicine and,
using her unique blend of professionalism, humor and compassion, she restores
the health and dignity of her patients."
Her efforts locally and overseas inspire all of us to follow her example."
Get a dose of the docs at www.aahs.org/docstalk. Or, attend the next taping at 6
p.m. Oct. 24 in the Dordan Institute Conference Center.
Appearing on camera, Walton said "is outside my comfort zone, but it's
important. I get a lot of positive feedback from my patients. We do this at AAMC
because people find it informative and helpful. It's a way to relay medical
information in a fun way."
The majority of Walton's patients are older than 55. She observed their problems
may have started after having babies, followed by menopause. "With time, there's
an increase in problems. But, normally women wait seven to 10 years before they
come in for a visit."
This statistic frustrates her.
She noted: "Women are the center of the household and drive health care for
their families. Yet they often ignore their own health care. They'll dismiss
pelvic pain or problems as a symptom of aging. 'It's not that bad,' they'll say.
'It's something I can deal with.'"
"Don't ignore the problems. There are solutions," she urged. "Our quality of
life is important, especially as we get older."
She predicts the pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery department at AAMC
and other hospitals will become busier as Baby Boomers age.
Walton realizes some women are uncomfortable discussing problems below the belly
The doctor and her colleagues in the department "try to look at all areas when a
woman comes in with a problem. We work in conjunction with a pelvic floor
physical therapist. We help manage people from a conservative viewpoint who
don't want surgery or cannot have it now. Teachers schedule surgery in June --
it's the only time they can do it."
"We try to help women to break free from the image that it is taboo territory,"
she said. "If you have a spasm in your shoulder, you rub it, put heat on it. If
you have the same problem in your pelvic area, you might need to use a vibrator
or a dilator."
Though there is still some reticence on the part of women over 60, she's noticed
"people are getting more comfortable with the V-word and talking about it."
"She's wonderful and so easy to talk to. She never seems rushed," commented one
of Walton's patients. "She's a fabulous doctor and is so understanding."
Walton has been married for 20 years to her college sweetheart, Nkai Walton of
Dallas, Texas, an event and audio-visual production technician for AAMC.
"He was a football player and I was a band geek at my undergraduate college in
Texas," said Walton. Her husband has accompanied her to every fellowship and
The two are pet-parents of Chloe the poodle, "who is spoiled," Walton admitted.
The couple -- and Chloe -- share their Gambrills home with Walton's mother, Jean
Robinson, and an aunt, Penny Rowe.
When Walton and her husband want to relax, they either pack their bags and
travel -- or they drive a few miles to the Wheels Skating Center in Odenton for
an evening of roller skating to rock music.
Two weeks each April for the past six years, Walton has provided her services to
impoverished women half a world away.
As a volunteer for the International Organization for Women and Development,
Inc., she travels to Niger or Rwanda to work in local clinics. According to its
website, www.IOWD.org, the organization's mission is to provide free treatment
and care to patients suffering from obstetric fistulae, gynecologic and pelvic
Doctors' skill sets in Africa are limited, Walton said. "We partner with these
doctors to train residents and attending physicians."
"Some women will have obstetric fistula. They'll be in labor for days without
access to a doctor who can safely perform a C-section," Walton said.
She pointed out Niger is one of the world's poorest countries. "Girls are
married at age 12 or 13 and delivering through small pelvises." Walton added,
"Rwanda has been through trauma. Doctors in both areas are not trained and are
doing C-sections incorrectly. We figure if we can teach and train them how to do
it correctly, there will be fewer problems with the surgical repairs after the
baby is delivered."
"It's like going home as I work with the same group every year," she said.
"While I'm there, I'm working with the team 24/7. We've had some intense bonding
"Dr. Walton has filled an unspoken medical need for women here in our local
community, regionally and internationally through her mission work in Africa,"
said Tori Bayless, president and CEO of AAMC. "We at Anne Arundel Medical Center
are so very fortunate to work with physician leaders like Dr. Walton who are
truly committed to the health of our communities."
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