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National career symposium offers strategic advice to attract, advance women in surgery

Tampa, FL (Feb. 17, 2011) -- The 2nd Annual National Women In Surgery Career Symposium will be held March 4 to 6 at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach, featuring two of the few women chairs of academic surgery programs in the country as speakers.

Keynote speakers will be Julie Freischlag, MD, The William Stewart Halsted Professor, Chair and Department of Surgery Surgeon-in-Chief, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Nancy Ascher, MD, PhD, Isis Distinguished Professor of Transplantation and Chair of Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco.

The conference is spearheaded by the Tampa-based Women in Surgery (WIS) Initiative founded last year by Sharona Ross, MD, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of South Florida and general surgeon at Tampa General Hospital. The organization is among the first in the country dedicated to steering more women toward careers in surgery and fostering a peer network and mentorship for current and future women surgeons.

At medical schools across the United States, including the University of South Florida College of Medicine, more than 50 percent of all students are female. Yet only a fraction of those women actually choose to pursue careers in surgery; even fewer end up in surgical residencies, opting instead for specialties like pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, dermatology or internal medicine. Barriers cited as deterrents to entering surgery include lack of role models, perceptions about an "old boy's club" culture and sexual discrimination, and a work environment unfriendly to family life.

Concerned about improving the odds for attracting more women to surgery, Dr. Ross is working with a growing number of students and professional colleagues to develop the WIS organization into a nationally-recognized resource.

Last year, more than 200 attendees from across the country attended the first annual WIS symposium in St. Petersburg Beach, FL. This year, WIS is focusing part of the program to nurses considering the field.

Keynote speaker Dr. Freischlag will discuss how women can be empowered to pursue leadership positions in surgery and the future of women in surgery. Dr. Ascher will address professionalism in surgery and the importance of networking.

Experts from across the country will discuss the issues and challenges confronting women as they seek to advance in a changing, but still male dominated, field and share successes and advice for breaking the glass ceiling in the operating room.


Contact: Ralph Lalone
University of South Florida (USF Health)

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