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WOMEN SURGEONS : Who are these heroines who save lives and give a second breath to the sick?

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Open fractures, injuries, tumors, or malformations: The surgeon is a genius restorer, who with the help of her hands and surgical tools makes incisions and sutures to treat organs, diseases, or deformities.

She is the operating theatre’s undisputed chief and is dedicated to healing patients and saving lives. Depending on her area of expertise, she repairs trauma, treats infections, inserts prostheses, or performs organ transplants

Despite all these feats, several clichés still exist :

  • Mission impossible! Incompatible! Why? Because women are impressed by situations, they are sensitive to conditions and helpless in the face of an unexpected situation!!!

  • Surgery requires a great deal of physical strength. The woman often lacks it…!

Unlike in general practice medicine, the proportion of women in surgery is much lower than that of men. The gender gap remains large but tends to narrow over time with changing attitudes and gender equality in modern societies. Currently, surgeons mainly perform pediatric and gynecological-obstetric surgeries.

In France, women surgeons represent only 16.8% of general surgery and in Germany, only 3% of surgical management positions are occupied by women. While medical students in France represent 70% of students, only 30% choose the profession of the surgeon.


Several types of surgery exist, depending on the organ to be operated on:

  • Infant surgery: saves the lives of babies and infants. It gives them hope of survival despite organ malformations or malfunctions.

  • Maxillofacial surgery and plastic surgery : correct the errors of road accidents, birth defects.

  • Gynecological and obstetric surgery : saves many lives of women and infants. With cesarean sections, implantation of the uterus, removal of uterus for some, removal of cysts, etc.

  • Ophthalmological surgery : treats vision problems with lens implants or other operations

  • Plastic and cosmetic surgery : Decompress people from very apparent complexes or correct facial features and/or body parts to give an image as desired by the patient.

  • Orthopedic surgery : diagnoses and treats severe injuries to the bones and musculoskeletal systems, such as a bone fracture or hip fracture.

  • Vascular surgery : treats diseases of the arteries, veins, and vessels of the thorax, arms, and legs.

  • Urological surgery : Urology is the field of medicine that applies to the kidneys, the urinary tract of men and women, and the male reproductive system.

  • Digestive surgery : operates the organs of the digestive system. Neurosurgery: supports the diagnosis and surgery of nervous system disorders.


  • Marie Wilbouchewitch-Nageotte, the world’s first surgeon

Born into a middle-class Russian family, Marie Wilbouchewitch (1864-1941) studied medicine in France. She failed the boarding school competition in 1887 and with great perseverance succeeded in 1888. She was appointed to the pediatric medical and surgical services of Georges Felizet at Tenon Hospital, then Louis-Alexandre de Saint-Germain at the Sick Children’s Hospital. This surgeon remains in the history of French medicine as the first woman to have completed the internship.

  • Francine Leca, the first cardiac surgeon

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Born in 1938, Francine Leca is the first woman to become a heart surgeon in France. Specialized in pediatric surgery, she was appointed in 1989 as head of the cardiac surgery department at Laennec Hospital, before taking over as head of Necker Hospital until her retirement in 2006. Always active, Francine Leca now divides her time between fundraising and trips to Syria or Yemen to train cardiologists. She founded an association to treat poor children with heart defects. Francine Leca received the Legion of Honour and the National Order of Merit.

Being a surgeon requires a certain amount of self-control and an excellent knowledge of medicine and the human body. In the operating room, the surgeon must be thorough, competent, and precise. It is a highly responsible profession that requires cold blood and considerable physical and nervous resistance.

To work as a surgeon, it is, therefore, more than necessary to be passionate and break the clichés around the profession of the surgeon. To do this, you must have a lot of motivation but also show young high school girls inspiring models of women surgeons so that they can identify and turn to this exciting profession.

Written by Soumya D. and Ornella S.


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