Meet the provider: Guillermina Nava, M.D.
August 31, 2021
Guillermina Nava, M.D., Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic Surgery, joined Wayne Health in 2009. Plastic & Reconstructive surgery is a specialized discipline within surgery requiring additional training. She has focused her practice on the reconstructive side of this discipline. This includes breast reconstruction, breast reductions, trauma related injuries to the face and hand, and body contouring surgeries after massive weight loss.
Dr. Nava joined Wayne Health as part of the academic group of plastic surgeons working at the Detroit Medical Center training the residents in the plastic surgery residency affiliated with the DMC and Wayne State University. She has enjoyed taking care of the patients in the Metro Detroit community. As the daughter of immigrants, she values the diversity of the city and welcomes the opportunity to serve such a culturally rich and ethnically diverse community.
Dr. Nava received her undergraduate degree at the University of Rochester School of Arts and Sciences, and subsequently completed her medical school training at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in her home state of New York. Receiving her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Rochester afforded her the ability to have a well-rounded undergraduate education. There was a rich diversity in the student body with a small campus-feel, but also opportunities to study abroad and expand her life experiences while providing a strong foundation in the sciences in preparation for medical school. The School of Medicine at the University of Rochester was a pioneer in the biopsychosocial model of providing patient care. This approach to patient care focuses on the importance of considering the patient’s personal experiences of their condition/disease/illness in relation to family, community, culture, society and environment. Considering all these factors when providing care for the patient allows the physician to provide care in the way that is best for them. Both these experiences in her early education has provided her a perspective to provide care in a very patient focused manner that she feels her patients appreciate. Her residency was at the University of Virginia in Plastic Surgery. She trained in what is an integrated training model which allows a student to start training immediately in plastic surgery upon graduating from medical school in a six-year program. When she started medical school, she wasn’t thinking surgery would be the right fit for her. But the minute she stepped foot in the operating room and saw what could be “fixed” in a matter of hours, she was amazed. She had incredible mentors who encouraged her to pursue this path despite its many challenges.
Her father taught her many things throughout her life, but when she chose to follow his footsteps into medicine and ultimately surgery, his approach to patient care stuck with her throughout her training. He told her to always care for her patients as if they were one of her family. He always emphasized the importance of getting to know who they are and not just their disease process and approach them with patience, humility and kindness. One of the most important things a surgeon needs to do before undertaking any surgery is establishing a relationship with their patient. She prides herself on taking the time necessary to getting to know a patient, meeting them where they are at in their journey to possibly needing surgery. She spends time educating her patients in lay terms about the surgery, the process of recovery and what to expect with outcomes. A patient is as much a part of the team she has in the operating room during the surgery, and their understanding of everything their surgery entails is crucial to having a successful outcome.
Dr. Nava’s patients have taught her to listen. She wants to understand the details of why the patient came to see her, hear their individual stories and understand their challenges. Listening to her patients and understanding where they are coming from allows her the opportunity to come up with a treatment plan that is best for them. It has been her privilege to work with women who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer that requires a mastectomy, and to be part of their journey in breast reconstruction. Each patient has a unique story and goal when it comes to reconstructive surgery and she feels honored to help these women make the best choice for themselves when it comes to breast reconstruction.
As a surgeon, Dr. Nava’s favorite place to be is in the operating room. She looks forward to working in the OR with her team to make whole what has been damaged from trauma, removed due to malignancy or correcting a deformity that will improve a patient’s function. Other days she sees patients in clinic which is just as important to her. Every patient is unique, and it is important for her to spend the time to understand their unique needs/story/family support and offer the best plan of care. Another aspect to her busy days is the role she plays in educating the next generation of plastic surgeons.
Dr. Nava is proud to be able to put forth an example to the next generation of women surgeon’s that it’s possible to have a successful career as a surgeon and an educator, while also being a wife and mother. More and more women are visible in the surgical specialties, taking on positions of leadership and teaching the next generation of medical students. Her hope is that young women entering medical school can see themselves taking this path in medicine and sharing the unique qualities that women can bring to the specialty. She is currently the Program Director of the Plastic Surgery Residency Program affiliated with the DMC/Wayne State University.
In her free time, Dr. Nava has always been an avid reader and keeps many books on her nightstand. During her morning commute she listens to audio books and podcasts. She loves a good crossword puzzle and hopes to one day conquer the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle. She also loves to spend time with her husband, son and adorable Goldendoodle.