Archive | 2:30 pm

badass surgeons…who happen to be women

3 Jun

On Friday, I had my “mid-clerkship review” (two weeks from the shelf, and two weeks after I completed all my other surgery requirements) with the director.  After a few minutes of feedback, our conversation shifted to advice on where to find the best nursing bras and on how to be a mother who also happens to be a surgeon.  When I looked across the desk at her, I saw a woman who was young, brilliant, beautiful, a little silly, kind, down-to-earth…who seemingly had it all.  Though I’m not convinced on surgery, it’s hard to not be a little inspired by that kind of figurehead.

There were a few moments during Penn Preview (a shopping weekend, if you will, after admission notices and before tuition deposits) when I started to have an inkling that I should go to Penn, one of which was listening to this director speak as we watched a laparoscopic procedure on the flat screens of the Flyers/76ers Surgery Theatre.  She said, “During my clerkships, I tried to like anything but surgery.”  I just loved the idea that, although you can certainly still have autonomy in choosing career paths, there was a certain element of the field choosing you (a little like the sorting hat).  And I loved even more the kind of moxie it requires to take the hard road because you know it’s where your passions lie, and no where else.

The surgery department still feels like an old boys’ club.  But when I look back at my eight weeks, there were three high-powered women who I admire so much, who stood out as shaping the direction of their given specialty and each seemed to have succeeded in getting everything they could have wanted, both professionally and personally, by being talented, working their asses off, and having skin thick enough to withstand the criticism and chauvinism that must have been much more present during their training.  One of these women hopped on the exercise bike next to me a the gym last week as I had just about had enough; she kept me on the bike almost an hour longer than I had intended just because I was hanging on her every word.  At one point she said, “I’m so thankful my memory is short.  If I could remember how awkward I was in med school, all the poor presentations I must have made, the hostility and criticism I received during training, I would have a hard time showing up for work, let alone having confidence in the OR.”  And to think, she didn’t even have mentors like herself along the way.