Last Updated: Jul 24, 2019
Teresa Marlino, MD is an OB/GYN practicing in Paoli, Pa. She is also beginning a new role as a laborist with St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa. Dr. Marlino is a board member of the nonprofit group Echoes Around the World, and she volunteers with Days for Girls, an international organization that has provided menstrual care and education in more than 125 countries. She is the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s July 2019 Everyday Hero Award recipient.
Dr. Teresa Marlino was a young physical therapist serving in the naval reserves when her unit was transferred to Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War. It was there that she was inspired to realize her dream of becoming a physician.
While in Saudi Arabia, she worked with a fleet hospital that provided medical support to marines. As the conflict escalated and she found herself in a bunker wearing a gas mask while Scud missiles were flying overhead, she says “You start asking yourself questions about what is most important to you.”
Her experience with life and death situations, working side by side with physicians, gave her the confidence and resolve to enroll in medical school.
When, at age 29, she began her medical education at Jefferson Medical College, she initially thought a career in pediatrics was in her future. That direction changed after her husband Joe noticed a trend during her clinical rotations.
He quickly realized how much she was enjoying her OB/GYN rotation. “You never hit the snooze button,” he told her. Dr. Marlino had some initial concerns about the effect the longer hours might have on their growing family, but her husband encouraged her to take that chance. “It’s important to do what you really love,” he said.
After completing her residency at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pa., Dr. Marlino began practicing at Lankenau and Paoli Hospitals. She has been providing OB/GYN care in the Paoli area for 20 years, first with a physician group and, for the past eight years, as a solo practitioner.
“I get so much joy from working with women,” Dr. Marlino says. That passion and joy led her to volunteer internationally with projects designed to improve health care and opportunities for women.
Dr. Marlino is involved with the organization Days for Girls. The group’s mission is to empower women by increasing access to menstrual care and education – by providing menstrual kits, offering hygiene education, and providing training to women so that they can sew and sell their own kits.
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Days for Girls has reached more than a million women in 125 countries such as Ghana, Guatemala, and Nepal.
“You can’t imagine how excited the women are to receive their kits,” says Dr. Marlino. The Days for Girls kits are sturdy and can last for three to five years. They enable girls and women who, in some cases, were confined to their homes or to their beds during their periods to return to school or work.
Women all over the world have more similarities than differences, Dr. Marlino has observed. “We all have the same hopes and dreams,” she says.
Dr. Marlino has also inspired her daughter Sophia, a college student who is strongly considering a career as a physician, to volunteer with Days for Girls. Her daughter recently returned from a trip to Guatemala, where the group was distributing kits and providing health education.
Another project close to Dr. Marlino’s heart is an initiative to build a hospital – The Double Cure Medical Centre located in the Mpigi District of Uganda, a region near the capitol city of Kampala.
The hospital project is supported by Echoes Around the World, a nonprofit organization for whom Dr. Marlino serves as a Board member. Echoes Around the World provides funding for projects like education and literacy, medical care improvements, and classroom construction for communities in need – locally in Philadelphia, nationally, and internationally.
This year, she is beginning a new chapter in her medical career. She will begin working as a laborist at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem for approximately 20 hours a week, while operating her current practice two days a week.
At St. Luke’s, she will also have a chance to work with OB/GYN and family practice residents and with Temple University medical students at St. Luke’s campus. She is looking forward to helping train the next generation of physicians.
She knows that she will continue to have the guidance and support of her family as she starts the next phase of her medical career. She and her husband have been married for more than 30 years and have four children – Joe, Andrew, Sophia, and Evan.
Her advice to anyone considering becoming a physician is “Do this because it is something that you love, that you’re passionate about, because you can’t imagine being anything other than being a doctor.”
That mindset led her to the career that she loves. Dr. Marlino plans to continue her work as an OB/GYN for many years to come and believes she gets so much back from her patients. “I don’t regret one minute of the hard work I’ve put in,” she says.