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08 Mar 2017

Female surgeons inspiring students to be bold for change

Celebrating Wednesday’s (March 8th) International Women’s Day, San female surgeons provided local Year 11 school students with what they hope will be a life-changing experience at the San Hospital.

San Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Michelle Atkinson and Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon Dr Payal Mukherjee invited Abbotsleigh students to experience first-hand life as a doctor, in their rooms and in an operating theatre.

International Women’s Day promotes education and mentoring for young women with a theme of ‘Be Bold for Change”.

The doctors want to encourage more young women choosing medicine as a career to go into surgery.

“Only a small proportion of women make it into surgery, and an even smaller number choose orthopaedics” says Dr Atkinson.

 “International Women’s Day reaffirms we should all provide young women with experiences to make sure they choose the careers they will really enjoy.”

The surgeon introduced the students to the skeleton she uses for training.

“Modern technology means there is no reason why women can’t practice orthopaedics.

When I was a student I enjoyed practical things like motor mechanics and woodwork and I was always fascinated by the thought of diagnosing and instigating treatments for different conditions, so studying to be an orthopaedic surgeon ticked all my boxes.

Restoring people to movement is really a joy.  I wanted to share with the students the kick I get from surgery. I want them to have that light bulb moment that I had. “

Dr Payal Mukerjee who has been an ear nose and throat surgeon for 6 years and is the mother to a young daughter says she wants to ensure young women get the chance to take up leadership roles in medicine.

“I want young women to be the best they can be regardless of gender. They shouldn’t hold themselves back. The opportunity for education and experience is everything. If we can open their eyes it will open the frontiers for them and help them go forward.”

Year 11 Abbotsleigh student Sarah Chang is interested in orthopaedics surgery.

“It was an amazing opportunity” she said after her time in theatre.  “It reinforced my aim to do medicine. Seeing doctors’ rooms and what goes on in theatre, having them talk to us about the technology, seeing how the process works, gave me a real idea of what it actually takes to be a doctor. It was very empowering.”

Student Isabella Anderssen has been considering a career in paediatrics.

“The doctors were awesome. Caring for people is such a collaborative process and it was clear they love what they do. I’m so grateful they want to try and encourage us. “

The surgeons said it reaffirmed their own careers.

“The student’s excitement was infectious” said Dr Mukherjee.

“Seeing the hope and the promise in their young eyes makes me excited to share what I’m doing as a surgeon.  I’ve had great mentors in my career. Now I’m paying it forward.”

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