“Call me Michelle!” – Meet Dr. Michelle Santoyo

Dr. Michelle Santoyo sits down with host Dr. Fox to talk about what it’s like practicing in New York City, why she prefers being on a first-name basis with patients. Dr. Michelle practices general gynecology, prenatal care, and delivery with Maternal Fetal Medicine.

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Meet Dr. Michelle Santoyo, an Obstetrician and Gynecologist with Maternal Fetal Medicine Associates in New York City. Before joining MFM, she was in private practice on Long Island for about nine years. Now, Dr. Fox explains, “Michelle is very close to the hospital, which really comes in handy when you’re an obstetrician.” She explains that like most of her patients before, her New York patients are mostly “working women trying to find a balance between family, their career, and their health.” Of her patients, “70-80% are in obstetrics,” though she likes to treat women of all ages and even treats some patients who represent multiple generations within the same family.  

Keeping Close Relationships with Patients 

Dr. Michelle Santoyo explains that she usually insists that patients call her Michelle rather than Dr. Santoyo, because after her residency “I just still felt it was awkward to identify myself as ‘Dr. So-and-so,” and that being on a first-name-basis contributes to a more relaxed and open conversation with patients. Dr. Fox adds that Dr. Michelle is “one of the most personable people you will meet,” and says that many patients followed her from her Long Island practice because of her personality as well as her expertise.  

In higher-stress situations like labor, Dr. Michelle says that “ultimately, my job as a physician is still to educate the patient,” and to help them understand their options and “make a decision for themselves and tell me what their concerns are.” Staying relaxed and friendly and maintaining a good relationship with patients helps her achieve that, though she says that sometimes “things are just a little bit more relaxed in labor” than people may think. However, she adds that “people usually know when I mean business,” when her usual happy-go-lucky attitude subsides in a serious situation.  

Dr. Michelle advises patients to look for doctors who they “can have a connection with” in addition to reviewing their education and expertise. She says that patients should look for a “friendly rapport” with their doctor so that they’re comfortable.  

Exercise and Helping Patients Stay Fit 

Dr. Michelle explains that her three main interests outside of work include traveling, whether she’s visiting family on the west coast or in Puerto Rico or seeing the world, “meeting up with friends and trying different restaurants,” and “anything related to fitness and health.” She enjoys running, CrossFit training, and Olympic weightlifting. Dr. Michelle explains that going to the gym gives her “mental clarity,” stress relief, and energy.  

Her interest in fitness is also helpful when advising both obstetric and gynecologic patients. She advises pregnant women regarding what exercises they can and can’t do, and helps gynecologic patients talk about exercise and nutrition to reach their own health goals. She says “sometimes it’s not so much about exercise as getting people motivated.”