National symposium focuses on increasing the number of women in surgical careers
The University of South Florida and Tampa General Hospital are sponsoring an upcoming 1-day symposium geared toward women who are or hope to become surgeons.
Sharona Ross, MD, the program and course director of the National Women in Surgery Symposium, views the event as a positive response to gender disparities in the surgical profession. Experts at the symposium will discuss the issues and challenges confronting women as they seek to advance in the field, and to share their successes and advice for breaking the glass ceiling in surgery, according to a University of South Florida (USF) Health press release. The symposium is scheduled to be held on February 27 in St. Petersburg Beach, Fla.
Commenting on the symposiums focus, Orthopedics Today editorial board member Lisa K. Cannada, MD, said, Right now, women make up a measly 3.5% of 16,201 fellows. There has not been a significant improvement in the recruitment of women in medicine over the past several years.
Success strategy needed
Ross said that with planning and support, young women can successfully mix a rewarding career in surgery with family and motherhood. Multi-tasking is a definite strength many women bring to the table, she stated in the release.
Orthopedics Today Editorial Board Section Editor Carol C. Frey, MD, told OrthoSupersite.com that women choosing a career in surgery should be aware that the training is longer and once in practice, the hours tend to be longer than more predictable specialties, such as family medicine. [You] will spend less time with your children. That is just a fact you cannot get around.
Vascular surgeon Julie A. Freischlag, MD, one of the three female chairpersons of academic surgery programs in the country, will be the keynote speaker at the symposium and discuss gender-specific findings from an American College of Surgeons-commissioned study.
Depending on the subspecialty, 30% to 50% of surgical residency program applicants are women, Freischlag noted. We, leaders in surgery and academic medicine, need to push back against the attitude that surgeons are the jocks the NASCAR drivers and football players of the hospital, and women do not belong in such a rough-and-tumble sport, she stated in the release.
Cannada said that the problem of few women in orthopedic surgery stems from a lack of exposure in the first 3 years of medical school to musculoskeletal education and orthopedics.
Lack of exposure means there are not role models for medical students interested in a career in orthopedics, Cannada told OrthoSuperSite.com. Certainly, one cannot look for a female department chairperson of orthopedics and, if there are not women faculty in orthopedics who truly are role models and mentors, we cannot make an impact. For those female residents and orthopedic surgeons, the time is now to realize that any positive exposure and communication to women in medicine can make an impact. I encourage all women in orthopedics to take the time to make a difference, she said.