Meet Shanna Combs, M.D., Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology
Celebrating Women's History Month at Cook Children's
By Ashley Antle
March is Women’s History Month. While the country commemorates the role of women in American History, at Cook Children’s Health Care System, we celebrate the role of women in building one of the largest free-standing pediatric health centers in the country.
After all, it was the vision and generosity of two women that started it all.
One, a former postmistress with few financial resources, Mrs. Ida L. Turner, dreamed of a place where fragile babies would be cared for regardless of their family’s ability to pay. Her vision and hard work led to the opening of the Fort Worth Free Baby Hospital in 1918.
The other was a wealthy heiress who wanted to honor her late husband by helping sick children. In 1929, Mrs. Missouri Matilda Nail Cook dedicated the oil royalties from the Cook Ranch to build the W.I. Cook Memorial Hospital.
Eventually, the two children’s hospitals became one and grew to be one of the finest pediatric medical institutions in the country with more than 1.5 million patient encounters every year.
Throughout our 105-year history, the women of Cook Children’s have championed children; nurtured the sick and hurting; led innovation in science, medicine and technology; and steered the business of health care with imagination, safety, generosity, kindness, respect and collaboration.
While these women number in the thousands throughout Cook Children’s history, this year, we’re highlighting a few who have made their mark in medicine. Each comes from different backgrounds, different specialties and different decades, but they all share two things — a passion for their work and the Promise to improve the well-being of every child in our care and our communities.
Shanna Combs, M.D., FACOG
Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology
Years at Cook Children’s: 2
Shanna Combs, M.D., is the first pediatric and adolescent gynecologist in the history of Cook Children's Medical Center. While her dad says she talked about wanting to be a doctor as a child, Dr. Combs chose to study ballet at Texas Christian University and initially pursued a career in dance.
But the desire to do something that would help people drew her focus back to medicine. Even then, Dr. Combs swore she would never be an OB/GYN. Her first rotation in women’s health changed her mind.
“I love the diversity of the field and taking care of women throughout their life,” Dr. Combs said. “Delivering babies, there is still nothing cooler. I do that for fun on the weekends.”
As for her path into the subspecialty of pediatric and adolescent gynecology (PAG), Dr. Combs unintentionally worked her way into it.
When Dr. Combs first became a doctor, her OB/GYN clinic was a few floors above a pediatric health clinic, and her office received a number of referrals from pediatricians there. Turns out she really enjoyed treating children and teen girls. Years later, when Cook Children’s was looking for a gynecologist, Dr. Combs happened to be ready for a new challenge. The rest, as they say, is history.
“I have just always been passionate about taking care of little ladies,” she said of her transition into full-time pediatric medicine.
Dr. Combs says the PAG subspecialty is fairly new to the world of obstetrics and gynecology. There are only 18 academic medical centers in the United States with PAG fellowships, according to the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.
In her Cook Children’s practice, Dr. Combs treats girls ages newborn to 22, with the majority being in the tween to teen stage. Most of the time she helps them navigate issues with menstruation. She also treats medically complex kids who need care for hormonal and menstrual issues, as well as children diagnosed with an ovarian or pelvic mass.
Her advice to women considering a career in medicine is to choose an area that you really love.
“Pick your passion,” she said. “That’s the secret sauce. If you pick what you're passionate about and you enjoy the work that you do, you'll never go wrong.”