ABS President – Julie Doughty
Why did you choose to pursue a career in your surgical specialty?
I chose a career in surgery as I loved my surgical placements as a medical student and house officer. I did my elective in Orthopaedics in Madras (now Chennai) and fell in love with surgery following this. I loved the fact that in most situations surgery results in a resolution of a problem.
I chose breast surgery as it is a branch of surgery where good communication skills are essential. Breast Surgery has seen enormous changes over the past fifteen years.
What sort of challenges or stereotypes have you experienced as a woman in your field of work (if any)?
I have not encountered any challenges being a woman. The mentors who encouraged me whilst I was training were both male surgeons. They taught me to work as part a team, look for the potential in everyone and enjoy work, and that is what I try to do.
It is now the norm for a woman to choose a surgical career and ensuring flexible training is essential. More females than males now attend medical school and this has now been the case for several years.
What are the most effective ways to encourage more women to pursue careers in our respective areas of surgery?
ABS is a very active association with its trainees at its core. We support all of our trainees especially over the last year when training has been hugely affected by Covid-19.
Trainee - Claire Louise Rutherford: ST7 Oncoplastic Registrar, West of Scotland
Why did you choose to pursue a career in your surgical speciality? What (if any) challenges did you gave regarding this decision?
Oncoplastic surgery has been my speciality of interest from a very early stage in my career. I have been fortunate enough to have mentors who have encouraged and inspired me to pursue my ambitions in this field.
Oncoplastic surgery is an incredibly dynamic and diverse speciality, requiring a detailed understanding of surgical oncology alongside Oncoplastic surgical techniques. Patient care is tailored by the Oncoplastic MDT where decision making is supported by expertise in oncology, radiology, pathology, plastic and breast surgery. Most importantly, it is a speciality that considers every aspect of the patient experience including the physical, sexual and psychosocial.
What sort of challenges or stereotypes have you experienced as a woman in your field of work?
The main challenge which I encounter on a regular basis is that of being mistaken for another member of the team, and the surprise expressed when I introduce myself as a surgeon. I have experienced this from both patients and other health care professionals. Although this can be frustrating and tiring, it is a misconception that I hope is gradually changing.
What are the most effective ways to encourage more women to pursue careers in surgery? How can we best support current female surgeons?
It is truly wonderful that there are currently several female presidents representing various surgical disciplines. I hope that this is encouraging to others, and demonstrates that surgery is a viable and attainable career. Having supportive, compassionate mentors to emulate is of the upmost importance.
The Association of Breast Surgery is a fantastic organisation. Within the ABS is the Mammary Fold, a national association run by trainees for trainees, for which I am the Scottish Representative. These organisations have a wealth of resources for both patients and professionals including courses, guidelines and webinars - most recently ‘Promoting a Career in Breast Surgery’.
Find out more about the experiences of women in surgery at the following Associations/Societies: