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Women in Surgery: Achieving Life Balance for Both Genders

The Women in Surgery group sponsored by the Department of Surgery is a collaboration between the Department and the undergraduate medical students. Formed in 2006, its original purpose was to support, mentor and encourage women interested in pursuing surgery as a career. Over the last several years the group recognized that while there are issues unique to women in the surgical culture, there are also many that are important to both men and women.

The group has evolved and expanded its mandate to encourage, support and mentor current and future surgical trainees of both genders at all levels. The group meets approximately 3 times a year and presents topics decided by a committee of undergraduate medical students with faculty support. The first event of this academic year was held in November at the Faculty Club. A panel focused on the myths and realities of the surgical culture. A diverse group of our faculty talked about their decision to become surgeons, and the demands and challenges of their professional and personal lives. Surgeons at various stages of their careers enabled students to see the changes that the specialty has undergone over time and where it may be moving in the future. The open and interactive discussion gave our undergraduates the opportunity to address their own concerns and myths about surgery.

In early February we had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Marla Shapiro talk to the group about achieving balance in a surgical career. Her poignant and very moving personal story around finding balance in her own life after breast cancer struck a chord with our audience and certainly gave everyone pause for thought about finding balance early and consistently. Once more we had several of our faculty discuss their own strategies for achieving a healthy life balance.


Undergraduate medical students: Jessica Shih; Katie Phillips and Andrew Warkentin with Dr. Marla Shapiro, second from right (missing undergraduate committee members: Dupe Oyewumi and Caroline Scott)

Our final event of the academic year planned for May will focus on transitions and negotiating change in a career path. I would encourage our undergraduate medical students, residents, fellows and faculty to join us for an evening of discussion and fellowship. The strength of our faculty lies in the relationships we have with each other and our trainees, present and future. Women in Surgery allows us to expand and strengthen these relationships, building our faculty at the grassroots level.
Please join us.

Melinda Musgrave

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