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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology

photo of Howard Minkoff

Dr. Howard Minkoff
Distinguished Service Professor and Regional Executive Chairman


Chairman's Message

The Obstetrics and Gynecology residency training program at SUNY Downstate has a long and storied history. The department was founded in 1860 as "German General Dispensary," and subsequently underwent several name changes before becoming the State University of New York (SUNY) at Downstate in 1950. The residency began in 1953 making it one of the oldest programs in the country. It also had the first Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship Program and the first School of Midwifery. Williams' Obstetrics, Editions 12, 13, and 14, were edited at SUNY Downstate.   Alumni of the department have gone on from Downstate to assume leadership positions throughout the country, including everywhere from Harvard, Cornell, Hopkins and Columbia to UCLA.  The faculty at SUNY is committed to training the next generation of academic leaders and expert clinicians in all aspects of women’s health care.

The department has dual lodestones; pedagogic and clinical. From the teaching perspective our goal is to meld exposure to the highest risk patients with immersion in the knowledge that undergirds clinical excellence. As Osler famously said, “He who studies medicine without books sails an uncharted sea, but he who studies medicine without patients does not go to sea at all.” Downstate is a roiling sea with a 21stcentury navigation system. Our second north star is the recognition that we are a mission hospital. The reality of disparities in obstetrical outcomes in the United States is well known. Paul Farmer challenged physicians by noting that, “Excellence without equity looms as the chief human-rights dilemma of health care in the 21st century.” In the battle to provide both excellence and equity Downstate is the tip of the spear. The job of all providers at the University-- faculty, residents and fellows-- is to prove the highest in quality care, and to be cognizant of the factors beyond medications that advantage or disadvantage women.

To achieve these goals we have devised a curriculum that is encompassing, and we provide adequate time for our 24 residents to master its content. We also have a clinical experience at our two sites (SUNY Downstate and its sister institution Kings County Hospital directly across the street), that gives residents the breadth of exposure that will allow them to graduate with a confidence that is bred from experience. Kings County is a city hospital (part of the H&H system) that has been a vital part of our training program for several generations. It has its own valued history, dating back to when Walter Reed did his internship, and Leon Chesley, the father of hypertension in pregnancy had his lab on the antepartum floor.  We are enthusiastic about our future, and are looking for individuals who want to share in this exciting opportunity to be both great and good.