Martha Jefferson Healthwise--October 3rd

Dr. Katherine Trahan explains her approach to health care and what makes her unique in her field of general surgery. She explains that after she got into medicine she started to realize that she was good at anatomy and dissecting, it came naturally to her. If one of her classmates needed helped picking out a nerve she could go right to it and find it. Dr. Trahan started to see the barriers in place for women who wanted to go into the field. It was difficult if you wanted a family and life outside work. So that was as much a motivator as anything. If you tell Dr. Trahan she can't do something it gives her more incentive to try harder.

Dr. Trahan’s approach to medicine is technically exactly like her male counterparts. She can do all the things that they do. They do surgery the same way, they work up cases the same way. But there is one main difference, she can't walk out of the office and stop thinking about her patients. She is always thinking about how she may treat them better. Being a female and a mom brings a different perspective while treating someone. Her approach for many of her cases is as a mom anc she can relate to the mom who's dealing with a sick child. She can anticipate their questions. Also she is a wife and she can anticipate the wife questions that come from a family member.

The typical day in the office is atypical, everyday is a little bit different. Right now her practice is doing a lot of community outreach. They are just getting off the ground with the practice and spend a lot of days just meeting people and talking about what they do. A typical day for Dr. Trahan at work when she is having an operating day is coming in at seven to perform an operation at 7:30 and will have five or six surgeries from then on. In the afternoon it is a lot of visiting with patients.

Residency has changed a lot since I was doing it. Now they only work 80 hours or less a week. My typical time when I was in residency was 120 hours a week. I worked from June to January without a day off. I missed a wedding and funeral and was afraid to call in sick. That's just the nature of the job. All of that has changed now. And because of it they're attracting more women to the field b/c it's a more normal schedule.
Some women who might have wanted to be surgeons in the past are now seeing that they can do it all b/c of the 80 hour work week.

The biggest challenge facing a woman is probably the same thing that faces a lot of women who work outside the home.
Whether you're a doctor, lawyer or business woman it's the fear that maybe you might not be as good as the men. And not fitting in. the biggest challenge is a women's own preconceived notion in her mind that she can't fit in. If she feels that way, she won't fit in. a woman can do everything a man can do and they should know they can do it.
And I think in surgery some women are afraid they can't do it because of the way it's always been. That they can't ask to work part time, or ask their employer for flexibility because they might be seen as weak or not as hard a worker. Specifically in surgery women need to have a thick skin to get past the gender bias.

It's amazing what they body can do. And it's an amazing feeling to fix people. I'm just glad to give my daughters a role model. Someone who's strong and working hard and is determined to practice in a field that is mostly dominated by men. It's funny though, it's important to them that I wear polka dot shoes so I look like a girl to them when I walk out the door. I look down the road to our future and I'll be able to provide them with an education. It's also extremely rewarding when one person says thank you.
Or when my daughter asks me to come to class and do a career day. That's what makes it all worth it. It's a relief to know that I can take care of my kids educationally, be able to take care of my mom and dad, if something bad happened I can take care of their needs.


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