Dr. Ringer's Breast Surgeon Career StoryJun 6, 2019
Dr. Shelly Ringer, Breast Surgeon, Hilton Head Hospital
Even as a teenager, Dr. Shelly Ringer marveled at the wonders of modern medicine and the fast-paced environment found in an operating room.
“In high school I watched a video of open-heart surgery and knew I wanted to be a doctor,” she says. “When I was in medical school, I loved my surgery rotation.”
Dr. Ringer decided to focus her energies on breast health in particular so that she could make a difference in the lives of other women. After seven years practicing in Hartford, Conn., she joined the Breast Health Center in July 2014. Her new position has provided the opportunity to be a part of what she feels is the ideal model of personalized care.
“Because it’s a small community, the physicians communicate with each other and touch base on a regular basis,” she says. “There’s a collegial nature. We take a team approach and we’re always interacting with each other.”
Armed with the knowledge that breast cancer survival rates have improved, Dr. Ringer offers hope and relief for her patients in some of the most challenging moments of their life.
“The advancements in treatment have been remarkable,” she says. “We continue to evolve. My goal is to get the initial diagnosis and then educate the patient about their treatment options. I figure out their perception of what’s happening.
“It amazes me to see how women open up,” she says. “A breast cancer diagnosis can affect them emotionally and physically. It can affect their relationships and how a woman feels about herself.
Dr. Ringer believes that Hilton Head Hospital has developed a reputation for patient advocacy because of its existing support systems – and she continues to use her own experience to create new opportunities. By putting a particular emphasis on building relationships with patients, she can identify and address their needs with greater clarity.
“The most important thing is listening,” she says. “We have therapists and support groups who help as well. I see part of my role as a physician is to make this an easier time for the patient and give them reassurance after that initial shock.”