What’s In A Name? This Doc’s Approach to Patient Care
Oct 14, 2022
Ashley Boarman
Sally Zhen, MD

With the last name Zhen, pronounced “zen,” Dr. Sally Zhen says it’s her “quiet confidence” in the delivery room that puts birthing moms at ease. “I pride myself in being able to stay calm in pretty stressful situations,” says Dr. Zhen, who cares for many women with high-risk pregnancies at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, where the average age for a first-time mom is 37. The national average is 30.

Dr. Zhen, an OB-GYN hospitalist, explains that her typical 24-hour shift will include delivering babies – natural as well as Cesarean-section – seeing patients in triage and rounding on patients postpartum. She also sees acute patients in the hospital’s emergency department.

“I try to make sure that I am always providing the best care to patients. And for me, that’s really evidence-based medicine and that I have a good reason for every decision,” says Dr. Zhen.

Whether high risk or low risk, births at CPMC’s Van Ness campus are viewed as a team sport. Nurses and midwives are very much part of the woman’s experience and essential to achieving the good clinical outcomes for which CPMC is known. “We are all very collaborative … making sure the whole team is involved in taking care of the patient, including the patient themselves,” she says.

As for her favorite moment at work; it’s all about the big reveal. “It’s the look on a new mother’s face when I show her her new baby,” beams Dr. Zhen.

Dr. Zhen graduated from the University of California Davis School of Medicine. She has worked in hospitals in Milpitas, Calif., and Hawaii. When she’s not in the delivery room, you’ll find her calm, sharp focus put to good use at one of San Francisco’s indoor rock-climbing gyms.


Delivering Another Performance

Dr. Zhen recently delivered another stellar performance: A starring role in Sutter Health’s fall 2022 advertising campaign. She enthusiastically threw her hat in the ring during the integrated health system’s open casting call and was selected from among hundreds of colleagues who applied. Watch the commercial featuring Sutter nurses, employees and affiliated doctors here.


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