Where are these women surgeons today?
In 1992, the predecessor of this magazine, Signs & Symptoms, published a cover story about women medical students and residents going into surgery. Three of the women, pictured below, represented three-fourths of the chief surgical residents at Brown that year; Naji Baddoura, MD RES’92 was the lone male. At the time, about 8 percent of general surgeons nationally were women.
Last summer, three of the self-named “girl surgeons”—Marlene Cutitar ’83 MD’86 RES’92, Karen Vaniver, MD, FACS RES’92, and Jean Daley, MD RES’92—posed again for the camera. Cutitar is a breast surgeon at Randall Surgical Group in Providence and clinical assistant professor of surgery at Alpert Medical School. Vaniver is a plastic surgeon and principal physician at Lourdes Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery in Pasco, WA. Daley is an assistant professor of medicine (research) in the Division of Cardiology at Brown, studying tissue injury. Tara Sweeney MD’93, a medical student at the time of the story who wasn’t at the reunion, is an ophthalmologist in private practice at White Plains Eye Surgery in New York, where she specializes in cataract surgery.
The number of women entering general surgery has climbed steadily since those days; they now account for more than 35 percent of trainees in the United States.
“I think that Brown basically made me think beyond gender or race,” Sweeney says. “I never thought about being a woman as so many mentors, including the three incredible women who are in the photo, supported us equally. We were taught to pursue our interests and to develop our talents and skills irrespective of age, gender, or race. That experience was and remains a real education.”