About Summer Abubaker, PA-C

Summer attended Austin College for her undergraduate degree, graduating summa cum laude. She received her Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Texas, Southwestern School of Health Professions.

Allied Health Professionals - MacArthur Medical Center

Allied Health Professionals: What Are They and Why Should I Care?

Many people think the only person that can provide medical care in a doctor’s office is their doctor. This is a common misconception, as nowadays, there are many different healthcare providers that work together to provide you better care. In our office, we employ physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives in addition to our doctors and medical assistants. It is the combination of all of these different providers that makes our office run smoothly. Some of you may have already seen one of these allied health professionals and may wonder why you are not seeing your doctor. Allied Health Professionals help to fill in the gaps when physicians cannot be in the office. As an OB/GYN, you can imagine this happens rather often. When doctors leave for deliveries or surgeries, the physician assistants and nurse practitioners help to see their patients so they are not forced to reschedule or wait for several hours to see their doctor. Midwives perform deliveries at the hospital so that the doctor can spend more time at the office seeing their patients. They also have more flexibility with their schedules, often times having same-day appointments available when your physician’s schedule is booked out several weeks in advance. Together, we work cohesively as a team to better your overall experience at MacArthur OB/GYN.

Some of you might be wondering, what are the qualifications of Allied Health Professionals? All Allied Health Professionals complete rigorous training and education through a certified program. All are able to complete physical exams, prescribe medications, make diagnoses and order lab testing, amongst other things. Here is a chart outlining some of the differences between the 3 types of AHP’s in our office.

Physician Assistant
A PA is a nationally certified and state-licensed medical professional. PA’s practice medicine on healthcare teams with physicians and other providers. They practice and prescribe medication in all 50 states.

Master’s Degree

6 – 7 years

Broad, educated in all medical fields; may choose to do a residency in one field, but not required

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Nurse Practitioner
As clinicians that blend clinical expertise in diagnosing and treating health conditions with an added emphasis on disease prevention and health management, NPs bring a comprehensive perspective to health care.

Master’s Degree or Doctorate Degree depending on program

6 – 8 years

Typically specialized to one field, i.e. women’s health

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Certified Nurse Midwife
CNMs are licensed, independent health care providers with prescriptive authority in all 50 states. CNMs are defined as primary care providers under federal law.

Master’s Degree or Doctorate Degree depending on program

6 – 8 years

Specialized to women’s health; perform deliveries and assist with cesarean sections

5 Secrets to a Healthy Vagina

All women should be concerned about their vaginal health. There are many suggested tips you can follow to provide a healthy vaginal environment.

1. Maintaining a normal pH balance is important for a healthy vaginal environment.

It is recommended to avoid douching, using harsh soaps or feminine fragrances. Any alteration in the vaginal pH could lead to an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria, leading to infection. Some women have a difficult time maintaining a normal vaginal pH, despite their greatest efforts. There is an over the counter product, RepHresh (available in a variety of forms), which can help normalize the vaginal pH.

2. It is imperative to practice safe sex.

Using condoms will reduce and protect you against transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s). Some of the  more common STD’s are Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Trichomonas, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Herpes. These STD’s  commonly cause vaginal discharge, odor, itching, burning, lesions or painful ulcerations.

3. Vaginal hygiene is another important key to a healthy vagina.

The genital area should be kept clean and dry. A mild soap, like Dove, is recommended. Proper wiping techniques (front to back) will prevent contamination of bacteria into the vagina. This is especially important after a bowel movement. Cotton under garments should be worn and thongs should be avoided. It is important to remove wet bathing suits and work out clothes after use to avoid creating a warm and moist environment allowing the perfect environment for yeast production.

4. Adequate vaginal lubrication is another important aspect of vaginal health.

Vaginal dryness can potentially lead to labial and vaginal irritation, chafing, tearing and pain during intercourse. There are several over the counter products (KY and Replens, to name a few) which offer daily moisturizers and vaginal lubricants. If you are in your menopausal years, your vaginal dryness could be a result of decreased estrogen production, and you would likely benefit from a vaginal estrogen cream supplement to aid in your dryness and comfort.

5. Your overall health also plays a major role in your vaginal health.

If you are a diabetic, it is important to control your blood sugars. Chronic elevated blood sugars can increase yeast production in the vaginal tissue. Managing your weight is strongly recommended as well. Being overweight in the abdominal region can lead to weakness of the pelvic, bladder and vaginal muscles, which can result in poor control of urine and prolapse of the bladder and/or your uterus. If you are a smoker, you should quit! Smoking can have devastating effects on all organs. Smoking weakens your ability to fight off infection. Smoking will also increase your likelihood of developing cervical and vaginal cancers.

In conclusion, it is important to see your provider yearly for your annual pap smears to screen for cervical cancer. It is advised to seek medical evaluation for vaginal symptoms including: discharge, odor, itching, burning, dryness, lesions or ulcerations, and pain during or after intercourse.

Sexually Transmitted Infections - MacArthur Medical Center

18 Facts About Genital Herpes

  1. Herpes affects about 1/5 adults.
  2. It is spread through close skin contact, typically during sexual activity.
  3. You cannot catch herpes from toilet seats, hot tubs, or any other objects.
  4. Once exposed to the virus, herpes never leaves your body; however, not everyone who is exposed will develop symptoms
  5. The most common symptoms of an active herpes outbreak are small, fluid-filled blisters on the genitals, buttocks, or mouth. They typically are very painful and may burn.
  6. You may experience flu-like symptoms (fever, muscle aches, fatigue) a few days before the lesions develop. These are called prodromal symptoms.
  7. The first herpes outbreak is typically the most painful and typically lasts longer than recurrent outbreaks.
  8. About 90% of people who have an initial herpes outbreak will develop a subsequent outbreak.
  9. We diagnose herpes by two methods – either by a skin culture or by blood work. Typically both are used together in addition to a physical exam.
    • The skin culture can only be done when you have an active lesion. A positive result confirms the diagnosis of herpes, but a negative result does not rule it out.
    • The blood work will show us if you have been exposed to herpes in the past but may not confirm if a genital lesion is an active herpes outbreak
  10. There is no cure for herpes, but we can treat the symptoms with antiviral medication.
  11. You do not have to take medication for the rest of your life if you have been diagnosed with herpes. Many people only take medication during active outbreaks.
  12. If you have frequent recurrent outbreaks, you can take the antiviral medications daily to help suppress future outbreaks.
  13. Recurrences tend to be triggered by stress or a weakened immune system.
  14. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help to reduce stress and boost your immune system, decreasing your chances of recurrence, but not eliminating them.
  15. If you develop herpes during pregnancy, we can treat it with the same antivirals. You can still deliver your baby vaginally, if you do not have an active herpes outbreak at the time of delivery.
  16. You should not be sexually active if you have an active outbreak, as you will transmit the virus to the other person.
  17. Using a condom can reduce the risk of transmission, but does not protect against all cases.
  18. Herpes cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be treated. With the use of medications, most patients are able to lead a normal, healthy life despite the diagnosis.
Immunizations - MacArthur Medical Center

Gardasil-9: The Facts

What is Gardasil-9?

Gardasil-9 is the newest HPV vaccination on the market. It now provides protection against 9 high-risk types of Human Papilloma Virus (16, 18, 6, 11, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58).

What is Human Papilloma Virus?

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. 75-80% of males and females will be exposed to HPV during their lifetime. Many people clear this virus on their own, however, in certain people, the virus is not cleared and can lead to certain types of cancers (cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal) and can also cause genital warts. While there are over 40 different strains of HPV, only about 12 are considered high-risk.

Wasn’t there already a vaccine for HPV?

Yes! The previous vaccination, Gardasil, has helped provide protection against 4 high risk types of HPV (16, 18, 6, and 11). While this has been very helpful at decreasing people’s risk for cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers, the newest vaccination now provides protection against an additional 5 strains!

So what’s the big deal about 5 more strains?

The new vaccination provides protection against 20% of cervical cancers not covered by the previous vaccine.

So how can I get the vaccination?

The Gardasil-9 is now being offered at MacArthur Medical Center. It has been approved for females AND males ages 9-26. It is given in 3 doses with the second and third 2 and 6 months out, respectively. Come in today and ask your doctor about protecting yourself against cervical cancer!