Born to parents who were healthcare professionals, OB/GYN Dr. Kathleen
Wilder always thought about medical school. But her father, a doctor,
encouraged her to consider a range of careers. On a trip to Latin America,
Dr. Wilder fell in love with public health, the science of protecting
and promoting the health of people and their communities.
During the height of the HIV crisis in the mid-1990s, Dr. Wilder graduated
with a Master of Health Science from the Johns Hopkins School of Public
Health and moved to the Washington, D.C., area, where she did research
on teen pregnancy prevention and volunteered at an HIV clinic.
As a volunteer HIV counselor, Dr. Wilder realized that although she enjoyed
research, she wanted to work directly with patients.
"I wanted to empower women to have the families they wanted so they
could have the lives they wanted," she said. "That thread has
been there through my masters, medical school and training. It has all
been motivated by my desire to help women. It is still my main motivator.”
No One Talks About Menopause
Every specialty can support and empower women, but reproductive health
can be particularly difficult to talk about. That's why Dr. Wilder
chose to become an OB/GYN. She wants to help women feel more comfortable
discussing these sensitive topics.
As an OB/GYN, Dr. Wilder supports women through some of the most important
transitions in their lives: puberty, pregnancy and menopause. She feels
honored to care for, educate and support her patients through all of these
important life stages.
"Those are all times that can be very challenging," Dr. Wilder
said. "A lot of things are going on with your body, and you're
not really comfortable talking about it; but it's having a huge impact
on your quality of life. It's my job to make it a little easier to
talk about and help with the transition, no matter what that may be.”
There's not a lot of support for or acknowledgement of these transitions.
Especially the menopausal transition, when the body is preparing for menopause.
Also known as perimenopause, the menopausal transition begins before menopause.
It most commonly starts in a woman's 40s. During this time the ovaries
gradually begin making less estrogen. Menopause is defined as going a
year without a menstrual period, but perimenopausal symptoms can start
before and last after this point.
The transition can take a physical and emotional toll. In our culture of
youth, older women often feel invisible, and the way our society talks
about menopause leaves women unprepared.
"There is a kind of mourning, because the woman realizes that our
society does not have much respect for her anymore," Dr. Wilder said.
"We don't talk about it much, so women feel like you just have
a couple of hot flashes and you're done. It almost belittles a much
Back to OHSU
Dr. Wilder completed her medical degree and residency training in obstetrics
and gynecology at the hospital where she was born --Oregon Health &
Science University (OHSU).
Prior to joining MCMC, Dr. Wilder worked with the Indian Health Service
on the Navajo Reservation. She spent four years in Shiprock, New Mexico,
serving patients from an extremely rural area where they faced plenty
"During mud season, people can't get to their appointments,"
Dr. Wilder said. "Some people on the reservation still have no running
water and electricity.”
Family called her back to Portland, Oregon, where she joined the Division
of General Obstetrics and Gynecology at OHSU. She was co-medical director
for Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette and co-director of the Center
for Women's Health Fibroid Program at OHSU.
Over the past few years, Dr. Wilder has also worked with Doctors Without
Borders in South Sudan, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. She is fluent in Spanish.
"We are so fortunate to have a physician of Dr. Wilder's caliber
joining us," said MCMC 08/GYN Dr. Analene Pentopoulos. "She
brings experience and expertise from working in different locations over
the past several years. I am so happy to have her join our practice."
Dr. Wilder loves life in The Dalles. She worked at MCMC on a temporary
basis a couple of years ago and was delighted to come back when a permanent
position at Columbia River Women's Center opened.
"That's a lot of the reason I came back; it was such a good experience
to work as a temporary doctor,” she said. "I like working in
a small hospital where you pretty much know everybody. It's nice to
feel part of a community."