I'm not 'anti-man,' but I advocate for women in medicine: Meet Dr. Steffini Stalos

By Yasmine S. Ali, MD, MSCI, FACC, FACP
Published August 28, 2023

Key Takeaways

The physician profession has been traditionally male-dominated, which is why it’s so important to celebrate our female leaders in medicine. Highlighting stellar women in medicine who have blazed a unique path forward, in spite of the odds, can help us take those first steps on the path toward inclusivity for all.

Meet Dr. Steffini Stalos

Steffini Stalos, DO, MS, FCAP is a board-certified clinical pathologist with 14 years of experience in diagnostics, transfusion medicine, and the global biopharmaceutical space.

She is the founder and medical director of Blood Associates, LLC, a firm of pathologists and technicians providing oversight to medical laboratories to ensure they are meeting federal regulatory requirements, along with other laboratory services. 

I talked with Dr. Stalos about owning her own business in a male-dominated space, her evolution in medicine, and her recent career pivot.

What made you decide to pursue medicine as a career?

Dr. Stalos: I was diagnosed with a serious medical condition when I was young, and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital nursed me back to health. 

"I vowed to give back to the profession that had given so much to me."

Steffini Stalos, DO, MS, FCAP

What challenges have you faced as a woman in medicine?

Dr. Stalos: There are many challenges to whatever worthwhile thing one pursues. For me, these include availability of time and money, willingness to have difficult conversations (with oneself and others), and perseverance down a path strewn with life's unpredictability, juggling family commitments, personal temperament in the face of conflict, prejudices against one's title or route of education, and yes, being a woman.

"I wouldn't want to unfairly select just one characteristic to explain any challenges, and also I wouldn't want to be mistaken for being ‘anti-man,’ simply because I advocate for myself as a woman."

Steffini Stalos, DO, MS, FCAP

That is a nuance that sometimes gets lost in our society today. I entered medicine at a great time, when medical schools matriculated 50% female medical students.

The reality is that when you are a woman, there is a different relational skill set needed to excel in job acceptance, self-promotion, and negotiation.

I say this because in owning my own medical practice for the past 14-plus years, the ability to win clients (I'm a pathologist, so I work with diagnostics companies), carry out the scope of work, hire people, and handle the back-office has been met with varying opinions, ranging from “She's not a serious physician because she does all this other stuff” to “Who does she think she is doing all this other stuff?”

So yeah, I've encountered challenges, but it's not a static equation, and being a woman played a part.

Why did you choose to specialize in clinical pathology? Can you share some career highlights?

Dr. Stalos: I debated between pathology and surgery, as both are procedural. I have a background in molecular sciences (biology and pharmacology), so clinical pathology was a better fit for me.

There have been many highlights in my career. For instance, relationship-building is crucial to any company, internally and externally. I've been called in to “save the day,” in a regulatory way, for many clinical laboratories facing potential revocation of their CLIA license or accreditation. These are all small- to moderate-sized operations, and because of the relationship-building on both sides—both laboratory and regulatory body—I have created 100% success for my clients.

Can you tell me about your decision to pivot away from the clinical laboratory space and into the medical device/pharmaceutical space?

Dr. Stalos: I've loved working inside a small business (my own) to advance medical and business operations for client laboratories.

The pandemic created a lot of chaos, but it freed me to think more globally, so I look forward to bringing my talents to larger, international companies.

I am excited to be a part of a bigger future: To integrate my talents in medicine, business, and writing with a team that brings a new product to life.

What advice would you give to other women in medicine who are considering a career change?

Dr. Stalos: I remember a sentence from medical school: “People are complicated.” More than one person will definitely introduce complexity into any group, whether that be a company or industry.

"My advice is to persevere through the noise by being creative and leveraging a 'disadvantage' as an advantage."

Steffini Stalos, DO, MS, FCAP

Some doors are opened by keys (you opened it yourself), and other doors are opened with a knock (you knew someone who opened it for you).

Steffini Stalos, DO, MS, FCAP, is the founder and medical director of Blood Associates, LLC. She is a board-certified clinical pathologist, with 14 years’ experience in diagnostics, transfusion medicine, and the global biopharmaceutical space. Dr. Stalos' core training is in apheresis interventions of hematologic conditions and GMP production of cellular therapies for hematolymphoid malignancies.

Read Next: Female leaders in medicine: A conversation with Dr. Monique Rainford

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