At the time, she was taking a class at UCSF called “Spanish for Health Care Professionals,” taught by a Guatemalan native. The class quickly morphed into an earthquake relief team. 

It feels so good to work in an environment where the only currency exchange is smiles, love, and gratitude. Those are feelings one returns home with, and they’re priceless


“I volunteered to go to Guatemala that summer along with other UCSF and Stanford students,” she says. “I spent about six weeks there, and it was a pretty amazing experience. We set up a very primitive type of hospital.” 

Trips to faraway places

She followed her medical degree with a residency in ob-gyn at UCSF. Now a urogynecologist at Kaiser Permanente with a 30-year career in her wake, Sklar has completed more than 20 medical missions to far-off destinations, including Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Kenya. 

“The patients come from rural areas, often traveling six to eight hours to the hospitals,” she says. 

Making lives healthier 

When she’s on a medical mission, Sklar teams up with local physicians to perform procedures ranging from hysterectomies to fibroid removals to reconstructive surgery on women ranging in age from 20 to 80. After she leaves, she stays in contact with the local doctors so they can inform her if a problem arises with any of the patients. 

“I love my work at Kaiser,” says Sklar. “But there is something so wonderful about providing a medical service to women that is not ordinarily available to them. Unless they are quite wealthy, people in these countries simply don’t have access to most of the surgical care we do.” 

Non-monetary rewards 

Sklar also teaches third- and fourth-year medical students at UCSF and manages a fourth-year clerkship at Kaiser. She would like every student to have the opportunity to work overseas because of the unique perspective it offers. 

Sklar, who recently accompanied a team of UCSF doctors to Uganda to teach local medical students, says her trips are usually self-funded. But she acknowledges that the rewards go beyond the financial. 

“It feels so good to work in an environment where the only currency exchange is smiles, love, and gratitude,” she says. “Those are the feelings that one returns home with, and they’re priceless.” 

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