Health in the Highlands
Your Appalachian Guide to Healthy Living
3 Ways ETSU Health Brings a Woman’s Touch to Surgery
We’ve all heard someone say that a place needs “a woman’s touch,” meaning that it needs that extra bit of décor that turns a house into a place that feels like a home or a business into a welcoming venue.
While the idea of “a woman’s touch” is a dated gender stereotype, there is a truth to the need for women’s presence and influence in every field, including health care. ETSU Health supports gender equality in every discipline and is striving to help diversify the workforce within specialties where women are underrepresented.
Women accounted for less than 40% of active physicians in 2021, according to the latest Physician Specialty Data Reports. The Association of American Medical Colleges notes that women are at even more significant minorities in surgical specialties, often making up less than 10% of active surgeons.
Here’s what ETSU Health is doing to change that trend.
1. Employing Female Surgeons
ETSU Health is proud to employ many of the female surgeons who practice in our region. ETSU Health’s Surgery team includes:
- Ophthalmologists Drs. Judaun Alison, Janet Brown and Anne Eberhart;
- Dr. Trevy Ramos, a general surgeon who specializes in surgeries of the liver, pancreas and biliary system;
- Dr. Natalie Scott, a general surgeon who specializes in breast surgical oncology and benign surgical diseases of the breast;
- Dr. Lesli Taylor, a pediatric surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive surgery, pediatric trauma and surgical infectious diseases;
- Trauma surgeons Dr. Sheree Bray, Dr. Diane Cobble, Dr. Christy Lawson, Dr. Lou Smith and Dr. Keelin Roche;
- And OB/GYN specialists Dr. Sheri Holmes, Dr. Ann Grouse, Dr. Olga Sarkodie, Dr. Karen Ballard, Dr. Molly Oxford, Dr. Bethany Reynolds and Dr. Alison Cronin.
"I still feel like we are chipping away at the remnants of the glass ceiling. When first entering into the field of medicine, I remember thinking — despite being warned about potential inequities — 'There is no way this learned group of people could possibly have intentionally fostered gender inequity.' I was wrong. However, throughout my 12 years of training this has drastically been changing.
"Thankfully, it is less pervasive each passing year. I've come to work at ETSU, an institution that makes gender equity a priority. It is also so important to me that I can be a role model for future women surgeons."
"As a woman in surgery, I wear many hats. I am a surgeon, an educator, a mentor, a colleague, a wife, a mother. I love the intricacies of balancing all of this together. Each helps make me better.
"I am a more compassionate physician, because I know how I want my family to be treated. I am a more intentional wife and mother, because I get daily reminder of how precious life is. There is nothing in life more precious to me than a big family hug after a long day in the OR.
"I am thankful for those women and men before me that made it easier for me to walk into the operating room. I hope I am showing those coming up behind me that while balancing surgery, marriage and motherhood isn’t easy, it’s worth it."
"Women have all the skills to be surgeons: stamina, grace under pressure, the ability to give attention to detail, the ability to multitask, the ability to prioritize competing demands, empathy and vigilance.
"There is no better feeling than when all these skills flow together in the operating room to benefit a patient."
2. Training the Next Generation
ETSU Health’s flagship health science college, Quillen College of Medicine, boasts a robust Surgery residency for training the next generation of surgeons. Residents work within local medical facilities to prepare for a medical career in general surgery, trauma and critical care, pediatric surgery, plastic surgery, surgical oncology, and ophthalmology.
Surgical residents finish with a strong foundation and are well prepared to launch a variety of surgical careers. Graduating residents meet the American Board of Surgery surgical case experience requirements in the defined categories. ETSU Surgery training provides a rich and diverse clinical training experience.
While women made up less than 36% of U.S. and Canadian surgical residents in 2017-2018 (the latest published report from AAMC), 17 of ETSU Health’s 30 surgical residents are female.
3. Encouraging Future Women in Surgery
Quillen College of Medicine also now has a thriving chapter of the Association of Women Surgeons, with 40 medical student members. The organization is a way for female medical students to learn about what a woman would experience in the surgical field and to find mentors.