The Journey of a Female Surgeon – How do I Get This Right?

01 Apr 2021

By Eanas Yassa

Being a female surgeon – how do i get this right?

Don’t be too happy, patients think you don’t understand the seriousness of their problem

Don’t be too serious, patients think you can’t handle stress and don’t care about making them feel better

Don’t provide answers, you seem like a “smarty pants” or “know it all”

Don’t admit when you don’t have the answer, you seem too uncertain or unable to do the job

Don’t threaten the men with your knowledge, voice or experience; you need them to like you

Don’t threaten the women with your knowledge voice or experience; you need them to like you

Don’t be pretty, it makes patients not trust you

Don’t be ugly, it makes patients not like you

Don’t be too well dressed, it gives people the impression you think you are better than them

Don’t be poorly dressed, it gives people the impression that you don’t think they are worth getting dressed up for

Don’t talk about your family, it makes you seem not focused on the patient and not strong enough for the job

Don’t hide that you have a family, it makes you seem like a bad mother and not caring

Don’t have a family, it distracts you from patient care

Don’t be childless, it makes you cold and unrelatable

Don’t admit you have help at home; people will question how you can leave your children at home with a stranger

Don’t hide that you have help or people will think you are too “perfect”

Don’t… Don’t… Don’t…

Don’t forget about the patient experience and likelihood to recommend…


Don’t believe the critics, the biggest and meanest can be hiding inside you

Don’t try and please everyone — be proud of who you are and what you bring

Don’t forget you are a powerful person

Don’t forget to smile… but not too big

Dr. Yassa is a vascular surgeon practicing in Grand Rapids, MI, at the Spectrum Health Frederik and Lena Meijer Heart Center. She is the Section Chief of Vascular Surgery and the Associate Program Director for the MSU/Spectrum Health Integrated Vascular Surgery Residency and Fellowship. She has a focus on advanced open and endovascular aortic surgery for thoracoabdominal dissection and aneurysm pathology. She was fortunate to be encouraged to advocate for herself and others from a young age and was mentored by many pioneering women in medicine and surgery in her career. She is an advocate for the intentional development of leadership skills in women and men at all stages of their careers.

Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.

One Reply to “The Journey of a Female Surgeon – How do I Get This Right?”

  1. This blog entry touched me deeply. Thanks so much for writing it Dr. Yassa. I can’t believe it took me close to three years to see it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *