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Women in Healthcare

If You’re Skilled, Passionate, and Committed, You’d Make a Great Vascular Surgeon

Photo: Courtesy of Richard Catabay

Vascular surgery attracts some of the best physicians. The surgical specialty requires extensive training to repair the body’s veins and arteries and save lives and limbs. 

The profession is intense and very rewarding, said Dr. Misty Humphries, a vascular surgeonat the University of California, Davis. 

“Being a vascular surgeon means you can touch people’s lives every day and change the rest of their lives,” she said. 

Hard but rewarding work

Some medical students might shy away from surgery because they think it is difficult, she said.

“But my [work] is no harder than seeing 25 patients in a busy clinical practice day-in and day-out, or reading 100 radiology studies on a given day,” she said. “All doctors are busy, but as a vascular surgeon you are busy [working on] cool cases and changing lives in an amazing way.”

A new future

Dr. Humphries treats vascular patients in the clinic, performs surgery, and is also a researcher, offering her the best of all worlds. And, while today the field is composed mostly of men, that is changing. 

TheSociety for Vascular Surgeryestimates that 13 percent of vascular surgeons are female, a number that has doubled since 2011 and will continue to increase. The 2018 ”Report on Residents” by the Association of American Medical Colleges indicates that 43 percent of current vascular surgery residents are female. 

“Women who come in and are willing to push for change have the opportunity to make the field look totally different over the next 10 years,” Dr. Humphries said. “We need those types of women. We have many, but we need an army.” 

Reaping the rewards

The reward for being talented and forthright will be a career that is challenging, fascinating, and life-affirming. 

“I love everything about it,” said Dr. Humphries. “I sit with my patients and discuss treatment options. I hold their hand as they make tough choices. I hug them and their families when things go well and when things go bad. I am also a program director, so when one of my trainees does a case on their own for the first time and nails it, my heart sings because I know they have it in them.”Read more about women in vascular surgery:

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