The Surgeon Minute

When Your Daughter Wants To Be A Surgeon

When Your Daughter Wants To Be A Surgeon
Many parents like the thought of their child becoming a doctor, but aren’t in love with the years of training required, nor the expense of earning a pricey medical degree. Medicine has it’s allure, with financial reward and the challenge of helping other people – but, it can take a toll on family life. For all these reasons, parents may be conflicted about whether it’s worth it to help a child become a surgeon.
Even so, renowned plastic surgeons Dr. Pat McGuire and Dr. Caroline Glicksman recommend that parents counsel children to follow their heart and head, on a course to the operating room.

Should My Child Say Yes To Medicine?

What does your child want to be when he/she grows up? It’s the oldest question in the world and one that’s tricky for parents. It’s difficult for a parent to advise a child to follow a practical route that could offer financial stability or push them to seek out a passion that could be more difficult to attain, less secure at times or ultra competitive. Medicine is one of those career paths that may prompt a lot of discussion and some trepidation because it so often requires gritty confidence.
“It’s competitive,” says Dr. Caroline Glicksman, a plastic surgeon in New Jersey. She remembers being the only woman during her entire course of training. “You are always outnumbered by men, but if you enjoy working with men, you are smart and work hard, it’s a great field to be in.” Look for qualities like confidence, empathy and self-motivation. These are important qualities for a plastic surgeon, or any doctor to possess. If your child has these characteristics, that’s a good start.

Don’t Be Intimidated By Numbers

For decades, plastic surgery was dominated by men, with only a few women willing to step into the arena of specialty medicine. That’s changing, albeit slowly. There were very few women when Dr. Pat McGuire became a plastic surgeon and even fewer left-handed surgeons. “It’s really unheard of, so I had to work very hard to prove myself, and I did and earned respect,” says McGuire.

She is a board certified plastic surgeon in St. Louis, Missouri, who follows the numbers closely. She says more women are getting into medicine, but too few are tackling surgery. “Medical schools are over 50 percent women, surgical residencies are 30-50 percent women, but there are still not many women surgeons.” McGuire says women opt for other specialties once they leave med school. “They are becoming gynecologists, pediatricians, general practitioners – that’s where women are going, not plastic surgery.”

Stats for female surgeons.

McGuire thinks it’s a noble profession, with rewards for the right person and would also cheer on one of her two children, if they decide to pick medicine. “A lot of physicians will say they don’t want their kids to be doctors, because it is a difficult road, but I would want one of my kids to be a physician.”

Why Pick Plastic Surgery?

Parents may have to advise their medically-minded children that the big paycheck will have to wait. Dr. Caroline Glicksman says she sat on the sidelines, watching her friends earn money and work odd jobs, while she trained and studied. “Plastic surgery is a long haul,” she explains. Glicksman says the hardest part is always watching her friends have fun and hang around, while she would have to study.

Female surgeons have to sacrifice.

Having children may also have to be put on hold. Glicksman and McGuire say it’s important to talk to wanna-be docs about family. “It’s also a lot for women putting off family until their thirties, and that’s a life decision,” says Glicksman. Still, with all the hard work and time poured into career, Glicksman, a mother of four, says she would like her children to be doctors, if they want. “If you have a passion for it, if you love what you do go for it, if not it’s going to be a miserable road.”

Ultimately the decision has to be put in the hands of the emerging adult, who must have a passion for helping others and be pretty good at math and science. Glicksman says in the ever-changing world of health care there is uncertainty and that is also a consideration, but if the passion is there, it’s hard to deny. “It may not be the smartest thing moving forward, but you can probably make a wonderful living, and you have to be happy every day in what you do,” she shares.

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