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women in general/trauma surgery

Discussion in 'Women in Healthcare' started by mirakate, Jul 30, 2007.

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  1. mirakate

    mirakate Guest

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    Hey y'all, I know there's a thread farther down about women in surgery, but I have more specific questions and I didn't want them to get lost.:)

    1. Are there women in trauma surgery? I know of one ped gen surgeon, and three or four in breast/endo, and 2 MIS women at the hospital I work at, but no trauma women (there is one SCC who runs the residency programme), so I'm wondering if it's just that women don't choose trauma or if my sample size is waaaay too small... although I don't think I've heard of any others, and I check out the surgery sections on all the schools I look at.

    2. Marriage and kids are a possibilty for me. Thing is, I'm already 23, so I'll be 27 when I start MSI and ~31 when I finish MSIV (if I get in first time around). So I figure I have to think about timing now... based on your experiences/those of people you know, when's the best time to start a family?

    3. (This one might get my butt kicked.) JH got its first female chief of surgery a few years ago, and for me that begs the question: Are women in surgery more known as "girl surgeons" or "surgeons who happen to female"? And for that matter, who's putting which emphasis where? (I ask because in the intervening years, there's been a lot of emphasis on the "ooh look someone's who's not white and male!!" and it annoys me 'cause I personally don't care that I'm female and wanting to go into surgery and I really don't want to be known primarly because I've got XX.)

    Thank you in advance for your input. :)
  2. mshheaddoc

    mshheaddoc Howdy Moderator Emeritus Gold Donor

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    My father's trauma surgeon was a woman with 2 children married to another doctor. I know it boils down to priorities for many women. Some can balance it but how often do they see their kids?

    As for when to have kids, that's an ongoing debate. Especially if you're going to have a 5+ year residency.

    If you do a journal search about women surgery careers you'll get alot of information on women who choose other professions due to the lack of mentoring. Surgery is pre-dominantly a male dominated field. Yes women are breaking through but how many old school docs out there still have negative feelings about women? Some claim they are justified since women still are primary caretakers. But if you have a man who wants to be a stay at home dad (and works from home) and supports the kids, what's wrong with being a surgeon? I just don't want to be in school that long as a non-traditional applicant :D Plus I get bored easily ;) Some women feel its either career or "dating life" you can't have both. But some manage to balance it just fine. I really think its individually driven.
  3. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Administrator Lifetime Donor

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    Women do choose trauma; as a matter of fact, the President of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST) is a woman. Now, it would be a mistake to say that women are *well* represented amongst trauma surgeons but there are more than a few around. You may consider joining Association of Women Surgeons (http://www.womensurgeons.org); its only $15 for students and affords you more contact with women in this field.

    I cannot speak from personal experience, not having children nor desiring them, but most of my surgical colleagues who have children either did so during medical school or while doing their lab years during residency. Its hard anytime you do it and you (obviously) have to have a supportive SO and a good child care network (one that can handle the unpredictability of your schedule as a resident). The best time is up to you...some may say its during 4th year medical school, others during lab time...almost all will agree that internship is the worst time!

    That will depend on where you train. I was lucky and trained at a program which was 50% female. Of course, the guys (especially the more senior residents who weren't used to the influx of females) sometimes grumbled because we expected things to be a little different than in the "old boy's days...we expected the call rooms to have some semblance of cleanliness and orderliness, we took down their nudie photos they used as wallpaper on the call room computers, and the Playboys in the bathrooms.

    But with the exception of the patients who were generally suprised, I don't recall allied health care workers or other physicians focusing on gender. You would get the "are you pregnant?" question if you complained about being nauseated in front of some of the attendings, but otherwise I didn't feel that my gender was used against me or in a derogatory fashion and in fact, many patients preferred us. Of course, your mileage may vary and you may find that other programs are different. Or maybe I'm just oblivious to any undercurrents of resentment.

    If you end up practicing in general surgery or trauma surgery, you WILL likely be the only or one of a few females in your department, even with more of us going into the field. And yes, when people are talking about you, they may use your gender to describe you...its human nature. If you were the only Hispanic on staff, it would not be unusual if someone was asking who you were, to have others reply, "you know, the Latina" (or whatever). That doesn't mean that they are using your gender in a derogatory fashion to describe you, IMHO. Doing anything that isn't common for your gender is going to generate some interest...strangers will be more interested in your lifestyle, family, etc. than they will your colleagues. You have to have a thick skin.
  4. washkeep

    washkeep ProudFieldFairy

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    I recently became interested in surgery and have been talking around. Actually, I'm also really interested in trauma and burn surgery. I did meet a female resident who was going into trauma surgery.. her husband is in forestry.

    I've been concerned about lifestyle, but I've been talking to some surgeons who say there are a lot more options b/c surgeons are so in demand. Anyways, I heard there's now an equivalent to the hospitalist in medicine... acute care surgery. It's like shift work- taking call for other surgeons who don't want to take call. Also there are more options to work better hours in private groups.

    I've also heard there are women-friendly residency programs... however I'm not sure which ones these are. I heard that UW-Madison is pretty woman-friendly. But I kinda like that surgeons are kinda crude and honest.

    Personally, I feel like we've spent so much time and work getting to where we are... and intern year is pretty bad no matter what you do... so I wouldn't want to make a life-long decision based on a couple more years of hard work. I ultimately want to be happy for life not just the next couple of years.
  5. idigtrauma

    idigtrauma

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    It depends on what you mean by "women friendly". If you mean you work hard and do your job and it's not a big deal that you have ovaries, then there are plenty of places to consider...I can specifically say that OHSU in Oregon and Mercer University in Savannah are quite estrogen laden...
  6. vasca

    vasca En la era postpasambre

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    I knew 2 female trauma-ortho residents. Not many women are willing to do it because of the hours they have to pull in (4 years of no chance of having kids is more than what most women in any country are willing to take, they'll be in their early 30's when they finish residency). It's also a machist reisdency and men will treat them like crap just because they are female. Many women just can't bear feeling second rate with all of the socially acceptable anti female hatred out there.

    It's also a difficult residency. You have on call every 3rd day working 24 hours nonstop (at least in Mexico) for 4 years. Few vacations, low pay. Most women simply become Dernatologists or Ophtos because they want social lives and less work. Ophtos have nice working environments too.

    Also, you need a strong body and many women (like myself) look like porcelain dolls that can be broken by just touching us. I'm tinier than most figure skaters!!! Kind of hard to operate on a patient's leg when the leg weighs more than you do. I have been told however that even smal people can still operate pretty decently on big patients if they either get strong assistants or with good maƱa.
  7. Trinity12

    Trinity12

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    Hey Washkeep,

    It's not a "couple more years of hard work". It's a lifetime of hard work. Just wait until you're actually in residency and up all night with your pager going off like crazy, work the whole next day, then have to drag your ass out of bed at 5:30 the next morning and keep going for the rest of the week.... or the rest of the month if you're in a surgical program where you have to round on your patients the weekends you're "off". It's hard. Especially when you talk to friends who are in family med and are working 8-4 no call and are almost done while you still have 3 more years to go plus another 1-3 of fellowship if that's your thing.

    I'm in a "lifestlyle" surgical specialty so it's not as rough as gen surg. Most of my friends are in surgical programs and we're all exhausted. As staff, it does get better, but then you're not protected and go home post call (not that we do as residents anyway).... on my last call (which was crazy busy for my program) we finished our last case at 3am. My staff still had his full day in clinic the next day so we were there together, yawning like crazy all day. All my staff are tired, they work their butts off and have trouble with balancing family and work. And they're all men.

    Anway, I don't mean to be totally negative but it's tough (but worth it... I hope).
  8. runrunrudolph1

    runrunrudolph1 trauma surgery

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    Last edited: Sep 4, 2010
  9. dragonfly99

    dragonfly99

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    General surgery actually has a higher %age of female trainees/residents than several other fields, including ortho and cardiology. Trauma surg there are fewer women than some other surgical fields, and it seems to vary a lot depending on where you train (i.e. women seem to cluster in certain surgical programs and noth others). This seems to be true in other fields with few women...it may be that certain programs don't like to choose women, and/or that women avoid certain programs, not wanting to be "the only one".

    I second Trinity's comments about the difficulty of the surgical lifestyle, however, particulary during residency. I worked hard in IM, especially during 1st/2nd year, but general surgery residency would be a different animal (and even more demanding). Most of the female surgeons I know have kids, though, if they want them. You just can't think you're going to be the Brady Bunch mom with 5-6 kids, driving the car pool and baking brownies every day.
  10. juliedi

    juliedi is legit.

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    Bump!

    I don't have any specific question, but I'm an incoming MS1 with somewhat of an interest in general surgery so I thought I might revive the thread. Any female surgeons out there care to give their two cents?
  11. DrCoffeeBean

    DrCoffeeBean

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    I want to go into gen.surg or trauma surg. Currently I am going into my final year of med school in UK and doing USMLE steps.

    Personally I don't have a problem of being described as a female, it is only natural that a woman would stick out to a degree in a male-dominated specialty.

    With regards to the family... Well, I still haven't answered this question for myself. I don't know if I will have the energy to 'have it all' when it would come to having children.

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