'Go get that cup of coffee': Central Texas' 1st female thoracic surgeon serves up career advice

Erica Carbajal - Print  | 

As the first female thoracic surgeon in central Texas, Rachel Medbery, MD, of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons in Austin, Texas, shared advice for women working in male-dominated fields during a recent episode of Becker's Healthcare cardiology podcast. 

Here is an excerpt from the podcast. Click here to download the full episode. 

Editor's note: This response was lightly edited for length and clarity. 

Question: What are your top three pieces of advice for women aspiring to be clinical leaders in male dominated specialities?

Dr. Rachel Medbery: The first thing I would say is don't listen to the haters. What I mean by that is I have been told so many times throughout my life that I'm either too nice to be a surgeon or that I'm "crazy" for being a surgeon or that I'm crazy for going into cardiothoracic surgery. That's just somebody else's opinion, and I would just encourage people [to not] listen to that. If you have a dream and there's something you want to do, it doesn't matter what others think. Don't let them try to talk you out of it if that's what you really want to do with your life. 

The second thing I would recommend to people is that small opportunities can really lead to big rewards. For example, if somebody invites you to go get a cup of coffee, definitely go get that cup of coffee because you never know what might come of that relationship. Some of my biggest successes have come from a small introduction. For example, I met a woman at a conference that I went to almost 10 years ago and she ended up being not only one of my biggest mentors throughout my career, but made other introductions that opened so many doors for me over the coming years and I didn't know it at the time, but that small opportunity led to a really big reward. 

The last thing I would recommend is that it's OK to ask for help. You do not have to be superwoman and do it all. What I mean by that is if you need somebody to do your laundry, clean your house, cook your meals or help you raise your kids, it is OK to ask for help, because I don't think that you can overextend yourself and be successful. I think you really have to be careful of trying to take on too much, otherwise you might lose sight of your true goal. 

 

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