Life Portrait Speaker Sarah Smith Bascle ’03 Testifies to Perseverance and Faith

Life Portrait Speaker Sarah Smith Bascle '03 Testifies to Perseverance and Faith

Gabby Landry '18, Editor-in-Chief

Dr. Sarah Smith Bascle ‘03 embodies perseverance, diligence, and all the other virtues that go into sticking with something for a long time in order to reach a goal.  Our third Life Portrait speaker of the 2016-2017 year, Dr. Bascle shared her 14-year journey of undergrad, medical school, residency, and motherhood with the Montrose community on Tuesday, February 7th.  


“I am a wife, a mom, and a doctor,” Dr. Bascle shared.  She reflected on her time at Montrose, a time full of busy-ness.  “My activities have changed, but I still feel busy all the time,” she added.  Dr. Bascle spoke of the call to character in everyday work, and connected this idea to her time at Montrose.  


“At Montrose, I was taught not to be afraid to read the really hard stuff.  I loved going back to the primary sources in my classes.  I also learned the courage to know why you believe something.”  This courage would later help Dr. Bascle defend her beliefs in her career as an ob/gyn.  


Dr. Bascle attended the University of Notre Dame for undergrad and majored in Theology.  “I majored in Theology for two main reasons,” she said.  “One, I loved reading about the faith, and I think that’s something that started at Montrose.  And two, I knew that I needed to learn the spiritual aspects of medicine, for the human relationships I would develop with my patients.”  She knew that medical school would be heavily focused on the biology side of the patients, and teach to treat the diseases.  But Dr. Bascle knew that she needed to learn the human side of medicine, too, and learn to treat the patients.


While at Notre Dame, Dr. Bascle studied abroad and learned Spanish, which became very useful in her work in Arizona.  After graduating from Notre Dame in 2007, she delayed medical school and went to work at Maggie’s Place, a center for homeless pregnant women in Phoenix, AZ.  There, she was able to live out her pro-life convictions and Catholic faith while helping women in crisis pregnancy situations.  Dr. Bascle added, “I don’t know if I would be practicing as an ob/gyn in the same way if I hadn’t worked at Maggie’s Place.”


After Maggie’s Place, Dr. Bascle moved to New Orleans, LA, to attend medical school at Tulane University.  She shared how her Catholic beliefs conflicted with some teachings at medical school.  “It was sort of awkward for me as a Catholic, because I knew I was not going to prescribe birth control.  I wanted to fall in love with any other speciality than ob/gyn.  But, of course, I didn’t.”  Dr. Bascle felt called to work as an ob/gyn, despite conflicts between her faith and common medical practices.


And conflicts soon arose.  When applying for residency, Dr. Bascle spoke up about her beliefs in interviews because she knew that her opposition to abortion, contraception, and other forms of birth control might be an issue.  While some programs, including the one that Dr. Bascle ended up at, were understanding, others said that their programs may not be for her.  Yet she put her career on the line and held true to her ideals throughout the process.  As she said at the Professional Forum and Networking Dinner in January, “I was upfront with what I was comfortable doing as a physician…My work ethic speaks for itself….My strength of voice came from Montrose.”


Dr. Bascle’s four years of ob/gyn residency were hospital-based, except for one half-day a week spent in clinic, where she saw her own patients.  “I used Spanish almost every day in Arizona, as 80% of our patients were Spanish-speaking.  We had excellent translators, but it was always easier and better when the doctor spoke the language.  I started to learn some ‘ob/gyn Spanish’ too!”


“I became a mom in the middle of residency, and being a physician-mom was hard,” Dr. Bascle added.  “I had a lot of support from my husband Nick, but the days were still long and exhausting through residency.”  Dr. Bascle shared lessons from balancing her family life and her work life: “I gained deeper understanding, and a lot of patience.  I also improved my efficiency, and learned not to sweat the small stuff.  Being a mom definitely changed my perspective.”


Towards the end of residency, however, the faith of the Bascle family was tested when their son, Liam, was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Dr. Bascle teared up as she shared this moving chapter in her life with the audience.  “He needed surgery, a shunt, chemo…I knew that I needed to be with my son.  I took a leave of absence from residency…And Liam is now tumor-free.”


After her residency training, Dr. Bascle knew that she needed more training in methods alternative to birth control.  “I didn’t want to be the doctor that just said ‘no’ to birth control.  I needed to be able to offer something different.  I wanted to diagnose and treat the problem, not just treat the symptoms with birth control.”  She and her family headed to Nebraska so that she could complete training in natural family planning.  


“I am proud of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into my years of training,” Dr. Bascle said.  “I have delivered over 500 babies and performed hundreds of surgeries.”  


Dr. Bascle has just begun practice at the Catholic Medical Center in New Hampshire, providing her expertise as an ob/gyn and as an expert in natural family planning.  “I practice medicine the way I always wanted to.  I treat the patient as a whole, body and soul.”
Dr. Bascle concluded with a challenge to the Montrose community: “I challenge you to follow your dreams, to cultivate your intellectual passion.”  Her story testifies to true character: sticking to one’s beliefs, remaining faithful through struggles, and practicing diligence and perseverance to reach one’s goals.


Read about Stacey McGovern ’92 and Rich Gotham, our first two Life Portraits speakers!