46: Competing in a Different Arena with Dr. Shellaine Frazier

by Jen Barna MD | Life Journey, Podcast, Work Life Balance

“Instead of getting together and playing cards, we get together and lift heavy weights. It’s just been a great community to be in.” -Shellaine Frazier D.O.


In today’s episode, host Dr. Jen Barna talks with pathologist Dr. Shellaine Frazier. But she isn’t only a board certified anatomic and clinical pathologist, she is also a world champion weightlifter! They discuss everything from how she came to be a pathologist to how she discovered her passion for weightlifting. From there, they discuss community building, building bone density as you age, and more! 

Dr. Shellaine Frazier attended medical school at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, she completed her internship at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, she completed her pathology residency at University of Missouri Health Care. She is the Associate Professor of Clinical Pathology at the University of Missouri and also the Medical School Curriculum Oversight Director.

Books and articles mentioned in the show:

Lafontaine T, Frazier S: High Intensity Resistance and High-Impact Training and Bone Mineral Density – A Narrative Review: Part 1 NSCA Coach Feb 2019:6(1):16-20

Lafontaine T, Frazier S: High Intensity Resistance and High-Impact Training and Bone Mineral Density – Sample Training Program: Part 2

Robbins & Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease, (click to purchase).

Excerpts from the show:

“Can you tell us about your decision to become a doctor and how you imagined life as a doctor would be?” -Dr. Jen Barna 

“Yeah, so it’s kind of a funny story. So my dad was a barber and he had a client that was a pathologist, which is what I am, and he would talk to him. You know how barbers are, they’re kind of like therapists. So as he got to know him, he learned what the pathologist’s life was about and he said, ‘You need to be a pathologist.’ He said, ‘That’s the best money for the nicest life.’ So that was actually in junior high. I wanted to be a pathologist. So what happened after that was, I’m sure our audience is probably not old enough to remember the old forensic TV show Quincy from the 70s time period, but I watched that and I saw that Quincy had an MD after his name. So I was like, ‘Oh. I have to go to medical school to be a pathologist. Ok, well that’s gonna be a long road.’ But I persevered and just having that goal in mind made me pursue opportunities to look into pathology. Of course, I was drawn in by the forensics and all the drama of that, which is not as dramatic as people probably think it is, as it’s displayed on the TV show. As I took opportunities to shadow a pathologist, I learned what pathology was and how broad of a discipline it is. I actually decided I really didn’t want to do forensic pathology at all. So I ended up just being a surgical pathologist. I’m board certified in anatomic and clinical pathology. But my career path has always been predominantly an anatomic pathologist in surgical pathology. So that’s kind of how I got here and my dad was right. It is a really good job in healthcare. It’s a good job for work-life balance.” -Shellaine Frazier D.O.

“I want to hear about the weightlifting as well, because that is where you have become a world champion. So how did you go from doing aerobics at home to becoming a world champion powerlifter?” -Dr. Jen Barna

“So at one point after I’d done P90X and I started getting involved and running, I actually had a resident who was into triathlons and she said, ‘You need to do a triathlon.’ She was actually coaching a team in training. She said, ‘You need to go get your VO2 max tested.’ So there was a health and fitness center in Columbia and I went to go get my VO2 max tested there. The person that tested me was Tom LaFontaine. He has a PhD in exercise physiology. He’s worked with world class athletes and he came in first or second in a world duathlon and I believe he made the Olympic team or was just shy of making the Olympic team in the kind of weightlifting where you throw the bar over your head… So he was sort of a biphasic athlete also and he had a very energetic personality. He told me I needed to join the gym and that I needed to lift more weights because it would help me with my running. Long story short, we worked together for quite some time. He and his wife at the time and I and one other woman at the gym got this idea to make a group of ‘older women on weights.’ I don’t know if you’d call it a club because you don’t have to qualify to be in it. But we started getting really involved with recruiting a really big team of people. It was probably up to 40 or 50 at the time just from Columbia. It was women between 40 and 70+ years of age that became power lifters. And we are competing in powerlifting. So I had gotten into a few meets just because Tom wanted me to do a few because unbeknownst to me, my biggest athletic gift is bench press. I just had a lot of aptitude for that and he recognized that, so he encouraged me to be in some meets. His wife and a friend were sitting in the crowd at one of our meets and they were like, ‘We can break those records.’ So from that the ‘Older Women on Weights’ thing was created. So we have this huge team of women that are competitive powerlifters all the way up to 70+ years in age.” -Shellaine Frazier D.O.

“There are a lot of different powerlifting federations. We are pretty small on the scale of different federations of powerlifting and they all have their own records. We are without a doubt the strictest federation on drug control. We actually have drug-free in our name and that was very important to me because this was supposed to be promoting a healthy lifestyle, weight lifting as part of a healthy lifestyle, so that women, as they aged, could remain independent and not look like the 70-year-olds that a lot of 70-year-olds look like. So it was really important to me to be in a very strictly drug controlled federation. So that’s predominately where I lifted, although I lifted in a few others. So that’s the American Drug Free Powerlifting Federation. It’s an all volunteer Federation. I’m actually the drug control officer, so I know that we strictly control drug use. Even a hint of anabolic steroids, and you’re banned for life. So with that being said, there were a lot of open American records in my age group. So the way that records work is there’s an open category which is the youngsters, mostly that’s where the 20 to 39-year-olds fit. That’s usually the most competitive age group. Then every five years after that. It’s based on your body weight to weight lifted. So to win your age group doesn’t necessarily mean that you lifted more than the person that weighed twice as much as you. It just means that based on the ratio of what you weighed to what you lifted, you did the best. I qualified in the United States to go to my first World meet which was actually in the United States. I qualified and I was super excited. That meet was ok, I didn’t set any records at that meet. But from there on, I just kept lifting and eventually went to world meets in Belgium, France, Wales and England. I almost always win in the bench press and I used to almost always win my age and weight division in the deadlift. In the bench press at world level, I didn’t beat people in the open category but in the United States I almost always won even in the open when I was in my 40s. I had my very best meet in the bench press when I was 48. I think the highest I ever lifted was 76.5 kg and that was at a body weight maybe about 51.5 kg.” -Shellaine Frazier D.O.

“I’m still very involved in our resident recruitment committee. So I interview a lot of resident candidates for our department and I always ask them questions that nobody else asks. I’m like, ‘What do you do outside of work?’ And I usually say, ‘Don’t tell me that you read Robbins, because I don’t want to hear that you just read Robbins.’ Then I have to say, ’It’s not a trick question, because you’re going to spend four years of your life here and you have to be happy outside of the walls of the hospital. Not only do we have to like you, but you have to like us, and you have to like the community that you live in, and you have to have things that you de-stress with.’ Anyway, maybe I’ve run a few candidates off, I don’t know. But I always tell them that.” -Shellaine Frazier D.O.

Get One-on-One Coaching with Coach Gabriella Dennery MD

Get One-on-One Coaching with Master-Certified Coach Jill Farmer

DocWorking believes the time has come to prioritize the health and wellness of physicians.

Professional coaching is transformational. Elite athletes, award-winning actors and top-performing executives all know this, which is why they embrace coaching to achieve such extraordinary success. Leading corporations also know this, which is why they encourage coaching for employees at every level. Smart leaders leverage the power of coaching to achieve outcomes that are meaningful, measurable, and attainable.

Our Coaches Will Show You How!

Our New Virtual Courses ‘STAT: Quick Wins to Get Your Life Back’ and ‘A New Era of Leadership’ are Almost Here!  Learn More Now 

To learn more about DocWorking, visit us here!

Are you a physician who would like to tell your story? Please email Amanda, our producer at [email protected] to apply.

And if you like our podcast and would like to subscribe and leave us a 5 star review, we would be extremely grateful!

We’re everywhere you like to get your podcasts! Apple iTunesSpotifyiHeart RadioGoogle, Pandora, PlayerFMListenNotesAmazonYouTubePodbean

Some links in our blogs and show notes are affiliate links, and purchases made via those links may result in small payments to DW. These help toward our production costs. Thank you for supporting DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast!

Occasionally, we discuss financial and legal topics. We are not financial or legal professionals. Please consult a licensed professional for financial or legal advice regarding your specific situation.

Podcast produced by: Amanda Taran

Board-certified practicing radiologist, founder and CEO of DocWorking, and host of top ranked DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast

You May Also Like….