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Women in Surgery

Actress Christina Chang Knows What It Takes to Make Dreams Realities

Photos: Courtesy of Sony Pictures

What made you want to pursue a career in acting?

I wanted to dance ballet originally, but when I was unable to pursue that seriously I needed a another creative outlet. Acting in school plays became a place I could do that, and it carried into college. My junior year, I just dared myself to pursue it professionally, not allowing myself to major in anything else so that I wouldn’t “fall back” on that.

What has your experience been like working on the show “The Good Doctor”

I love working on this show. Our crew is fantastic, and our cast all get along and have fun on and off set. We have a great group of writers that are smart and work tirelessly to deliver heartfelt scripts. David Shore is confident in what he does, and it’s nice to be led by someone who knows what they’re doing and is kind — the combination makes for an all around lovely environment to be in. I feel fortunate to have landed on a show with such good people!

How would you describe your character, Dr. Audrey Lim?

She’s a sassy smart aleck who shoots from the hip and has serious chops as a surgeon. She’s also an adrenaline junkie, which is not who I am in real life. I like that about her.

Have you discovered more about yourself since starring in the show?

Every character I play is an opportunity to discover more about myself, and specifically with Lim, I’m being reminded that being brave is important. It takes courage to be vulnerable, which is an area I think not only Lim but all of our main characters struggle in. I’m inspired by her ability to stand up for what she believes in, so I continue to use her as my guide.

How does it feel playing the role of a women trauma surgeon?

It’s amazing: Lim gets to be on the front lines! She’s also tested on a daily basis
to remain calm and focused while she leads some of the most panicked people in dire situations through their hell and into their recovery. I can only imagine saving lives has got to be a very rewarding feeling.

What is your perspective on having more women surgeons in the medical field?

I’m all for it. There’s no reason women can’t go toe-to-toe in the OR with their male counterparts. It’s alarming that in the U.S. only 19.2 percent of surgeons are women, and that number is even smaller on a global scale. I’d like to help raise some awareness around that.

Do you think it’s important to bring more diversity and inclusion in the surgical space?

I think it’s important to bring diversity and inclusion to any space, as we’re better humans when that happens. In the surgical field, I would imagine having access to a larger pool of expertise and experience can only broaden a surgeon’s perspective, which will increase their ability to understand and heal their patients.

Why do you think it’s important to encourage and empower women to pursue a
career in surgery?

Clearly, women are underrepresented in this field. Yet, women make up about half of the medical school graduates and are just as skilled as men in surgery — it’s only logical we encourage their surgical aspirations. Of course, I can’t speak to the immense pressure of having one’s personal and professional life collide with that many hours in the OR, especially if one decides to have a family; but, the answer isn’t to discourage a woman from a surgical career. If she’s qualified, then she’s qualified. Let’s get rid of some old narratives and create a shift in the work culture. Women can’t do it all on their own, but men can’t either, so let’s all cheer each other on as humans wanting to save other humans’ lives.

What is something you want viewers to get out of watching ”The Good Doctor”? Out of your character Dr. Lim?

Hope. Dr. Shaun Murphy (played by Freddie Highmore) represents this larger idea of what is considered “other.” Through him, the audience experiences a version of what it’s like for someone with certain limitations to work hard at life and in love. We can all relate on some level to being misunderstood, and we root for the people who are clamoring to get there. We’re all out here doing our best, trying to make something happen for ourselves; and while it’s not always easy to find a solution, it sure helps when people are kind. If we can all help each other along, then we’ve got hope. As for what they may get from Lim, I’d like viewers to see that she fights for the underdog, she fights for what she believes in.

If you hadn’t decided to become an actor, is there another professional path you would have wanted to do?

I’ve always felt strongly that, if I didn’t pursue acting, I would go into social work working with children. I still feel a tug in that direction, honestly.

Who is someone that inspires you? Is there someone you look up to?

I think the prior question is a perfect segue: my mom. She worked with children for 40 years, tirelessly looking for ways to nourish and guide their experiences. She had the patience of Job, as they say. I so admired that quality in her and try to call upon it when I’m parenting my daughter!

What made you want to participate in our “Women in Surgery” campaign?

I know what it’s like to work hard for something in an arena that doesn’t always welcome equity. Since being on the show, I’ve become aware of the struggle female surgeons face and I want to participate in a campaign that can offer support to women who are worthy of joining their male counterparts in a field that very much needs them.

What is one piece of advice you would offer to women interested in becoming surgeons?

Given I only play one on TV, I wouldn’t presume to give any woman advice on becoming a surgeon. However, I do know what it’s like to want something badly and work hard for it, so I would say: keep your focus on the dream, and be a trailblazer for the young women coming up behind you — they’re watching you. Be the mentor you wish you’d had. Be brave!

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