A profile of female academic surgeons: Training, credentials, and academic success

Amy D. Wyrzykowski, E. Han, B. J. Pettitt, T. M. Styblo, G. S. Rozycki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The objective of this study was to determine the profile (credentials, training, and type of practice) of female academic general surgeons and factors that influenced their career choice. A survey was sent to female academic surgeons identified through general surgery residency programs and American medical schools. The women had to be Board eligible/certified by the American Board of Surgery or equivalent Board and have an academic appointment in a Department of Surgery. Data were analyzed using the SPSS program. Two hundred seventy women (age range, 32-70 years) completed the survey (98.9% response rate). Fellowships were completed by 82.3 per cent (223/270), most commonly in surgical critical care. There were 134 (50.2%, 134/367) who had two or more Board certificates, most frequently (46%, 61/134) in surgical critical care. Full-time academic appointments were held by 86.7 per cent of women, most as assistant professors, clinical track; only 12.4 per cent were tenured professors. The majority of women described their practice as "general surgery" or "general surgery with emphasis on breast." The most frequent administrative title was "Director." Only three women stated that they were "chair" of the department. The top reason for choosing surgery was "gut feeling," whereas "intellectual challenge" was the reason they pursued academic surgery. When asked "Would you do it again?", 77 per cent responded in the affirmative. We conclude that female academic surgeons are well trained, with slightly more than half having two or more Board certificates; that most female academic surgeons are clinically active assistant or associate professors whose practice is "general surgery," often with an emphasis on breast disease; that true leadership positions remain elusive for women in academic general surgery; and that 77 per cent would choose the same career again.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1153-1157
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Volume72
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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