“I asked him to the Doctor Prom,” Dr. Jennifer Lanzer, reflected, with bright blue eyes gazing at her husband, Dr. James Crownover, who laughed with a wide grin. “We were in the same study groups and social circle,” he said, “and after the prom, we started dating.”
Lanzer was exposed to medicine through her family. Her grandfather graduated from MCG in 1955 and became an internist, and her mother works as a registered nurse in a labor and delivery unit in Atlanta. As a teenager, Lanzer began working in her grandfather’s office and watched his attentive care for his patients as they matured.
“The lifelong relationship he had with his patients was inspiring to me,” said Lanzer, who’s now a urogynecologist, aka urogyn, a physician specially trained in female pelvic medicine. She treats pelvic floor conditions, such as urinary and fecal incontinence, overactive bladder, pelvic-organ prolapse and other conditions that often affect women in menopause.
“Women spend half their lives in menopause, so I’m driven to make those years as comfortable and fulfilling as they can be for my patients,” she said. “I have the pleasure of working with women every day who welcome me into their lives and the honor of bringing them back to living the life they want and desire.”
Just like Lanzer, Crownover’s grandfather inspired him—but in a different way. His grandfather set up and ran a shipboard medical lab when he served in the U.S. Navy, but he always aspired to be a physician. Now his grandson is living that dream as a sports medicine physician who focuses on concussion care.
A Holistic Approach
The couple lead an active lifestyle—running and walking with or without their dogs, exercising in their home gym, hiking, paddle boarding and fly-fishing. And they bring this lifestyle into their practices, because they recognize that holistic, or whole-person, health— which takes into account the body, mind and spirit— offers patients the best health outcome.
“Things like diet, sleep and daily movement are major factors in general healing,” Crownover said. “Concussions are primarily treated with a holistic approach, from minimizing stimulation and maximizing sleep to educating about the emotional aspect.”
Lanzer also witnesses the effect of lifestyle factors on the conditions she treats in her clinic: “When women come to me with concerns about their bladder, for instance, I tell them, ‘it’s never just your bladder,’” said Lanzer, who’s been studying the connection between the diaphragm and abdomen. “It’s all interconnected, and the way you move and live has a big impact on your pelvic-floor support.
“I spend a lot of time talking to my patients about all kinds of interventions—eating, movement and physical therapy—and reserve surgery for the last resort,” Lanzer said. “One of the things I love about urogyn is that we have so many options, so I enjoy listening to patients and asking them to describe their ideal lifestyle and tailoring the treatment to that.”
Unfortunately, urogynecologic and sports medicine conditions can severely impair quality of life. That’s what motivates Lanzer and Crownover to focus intently on holistic health in their practices.
“People are staying active through all stages of life,” Crownover said. “Both of us want people to thrive through their lifespan.”
While Lanzer and Crownover work in two separate specialties, they share a vision of opportunities that exist for collaboration to benefit patients. They plan to explore the female athlete triad, a condition marked by lack of energy, bone loss and irregular or absent periods, and look forward to identifying entry points for prevention and early intervention in young female athletes.
“We as subspecialists are trying to bring this into the big picture,” Lanzer said. “A lot of what we do is broadening patients’ scope. It’s not just about one isolated issue but how it’s affecting their function, which often uncovers something else that’s going on.”