Monday, June 1, 2015

Book Announcement: Being a Woman Surgeon

by Jane Zhao, MD

Preeti John, MBBS, MPH, FACS, is the editor of Being a Woman Surgeon: Sixty Women Share Their Stories, an anthology of stories and poetry from 60 women surgeons around the country. The anthology will be the first of its kind. It was created after Dr. John found herself being asked by one female medical student after another about her personal pursuit into surgery. It was then that she realized what a dearth there was of first hand accounts from women about life as a women surgeon. In retrospect, this is not entirely surprising. Despite the numerous strides made toward gender equality in the 21st century, women still comprise little more than 20% of the surgical workforce. As a result, many women take heart when they can connect with other women surgeons. Now, thanks to this anthology, the tradition of passing on stories from one woman to another—as well as our male counterparts—is easier than ever.

The authors of this anthology include but are most definitely not limited to the following surgeons: Nia D. Banks, Patricia J. Numann, Susan E. Pories, Kathleen Yaremchuk, Martha A. Zeiger, Joan Huffman, and Sylvia Marina Ramos.

Compiling this anthology has been a labor of love for Dr. John over the last couple of years. I remember as a medical student receiving e-mails about this up-and-coming anthology. It is an honor for me to now as a resident be the one to introduce this anthology by Dr. John on the Association of Women Surgeons blog.

Here are what some of my favorite role model physician authors have to say about the anthology:

"Dr. John has carefully collected an illuminating anthology of experiential writings from women surgeons. Her contributors vary in surgical specialty, years of experience, and personal situation. This rich and literate collection will prove fascinating reading for anyone interested in the world of medicine." - Carol Scott-Conner, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS, author of A Few Small Moments.

"An extraordinary collection of essays written by an even more extraordinary group of women, this book offers an unparalleled view of what it is like to be a woman surgeon. It is the book that I wish I had as a medical student and that even now I find inspiring." - Pauline Chen, MD, FACS, New York Times columnist; author of Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality.

"This is a poignant and moving narrative collection from women who each in their own way were pioneers in their field of surgery. The story of the courage, physical strength, stamina and, most of all, the mental fortitude required to complete surgical training is beautifully conveyed here. This collection will hopefully both inspire and make the path easier for the next generation of surgeons, both women and men." - Abraham Verghese, MD, author of Cutting for Stone, The Tennis Partner, and My Own Country.

"This book is an enthralling read. It is all too rare to hear the stories of surgeons, and even rarer to hear those of women surgeons. Yet here they are, told straight out, fearlessly, by residents and retirees alike. The stories are by turns funny, heartbreaking, flabbergasting, infuriating, inspiring-and at times all of these at once. Each voice here is singular and fascinating. But the collective effect is overwhelmingly moving. You want to hear more." - Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, FACS, staff writer for The New Yorker, author of Complications, The Checklist Manifesto, and Better.

"An inspiring compendium of stories that challenged a generation and defined an era. Being a Woman Surgeon will be the archival account of the women who dared to radically advance the world's greatest profession." - Marty Makary, MD, MPH, FACS, author of Unaccountable.

To listen to an audio from Dr. John and some of the contributing authors, click here.

Being a Woman Surgeon: Sixty Women Share Their Stories will be published June 1, 2015 by Gordian Knot Books. It will be 337 pages and sold for $29.

Dr. Preeti R. John is a critical care surgeon who works at the VA Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. She is also faculty at the University of Maryland. She is triple board certified in General Surgery, Surgical Critical Care, and Hospice and Palliative Medicine.


Jane Zhao is a general surgery resident at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. She obtained her medical degree with a scholarly concentration in Clinical Quality, Safety, and Evidence-based Medicine from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and completed her undergraduate studies in Medicine, Health, & Society at Vanderbilt University. She was the 2012 recipient of the Shohrae Hajibashi Memorial Leadership Award and chaired the AWS Blog Subcommittee from 2013 to 2014. Her interests include healthcare social media, quality improvement, and public health. She can be followed on Twitter.


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