I Look Like a Surgeon, and #ILookLikeASurgeon

“A good surgeon has the eye of an eagle, the heart of a lion, and the hand of a woman…”– 15th Century English Proverb

IMG_1152

#ILookLikeASurgeon, operating

#ILookLikeASurgeon, a new hashtag on Twitter and the movement it has inspired, has resonated deeply with me.

I look like a Surgeon. There is so much more behind this seemingly simple statement of fact. I am not just stating that I have excelled and I have achieved and I am accomplished by being a surgeon. In saying I look like a surgeon, I am saying that it is normal for me to be a surgeon; that it is normal for me to be seen as a surgeon; that it is normal for me to command the respect and authority of a surgeon; and ultimately, that it is normal for others who look like me to aspire to be surgeons.

I look like a Woman. And in that statement, in the moment I am visualized, there is an instantaneous assessment, judgement, and conclusion about who I am and what I am capable of. Even more importantly, about what I am not capable of. It dictates where I can go, what I can wear, what I can say, and even how I say it, especially if I value personal safety.

With the genesis and appearance of the hashtag #ILookLikeASurgeon, I have felt an overwhelming sense of connection and community, validation and gratitude. #ILookLikeASurgeon has spread across Twitter and the Internet, crossing continents and spanning the globe. #ILookLikeASurgeon has inspired surgeons and others, and is garnering the attention and support of media outlets, our medical and surgical organizations, and our healthcare institutions.

Yet this very public, open, and global movement has affected me in a very personal way, touching me at my very core. #ILookLikeASurgeon represents many things to me. It says “I am here,” “See me.” It is me claiming my profession, the profession that I and all surgeons work and sacrifice so very hard to attain and maintain. Finally, as a physician and especially as a surgeon, my profession is not merely a job or a career, but a fundamental part of who I am. No matter where I may go or what I may do, being a physician and being a surgeon is part of who I am. In a very palpable and real way for me, with #ILookLikeASurgeon I am claiming myself as well; this is me. Continue reading