"As a young child, I was obsessed with superheroes. Who wouldn’t want to have superpowers and help those in need?!"
In honor of National Women Physicians Day, Rania Habib M.D., D.D.S, a Board Certified Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon for Cleft and Craniofacial Surgery from Minnesota shares with us just how much she loves to help those in need and what challenges she has faced along the way.
WHY DID YOU GO INTO MEDICINE?
As a young child, I was obsessed with superheroes. Who wouldn’t want to have superpowers and help those in need?! I knew I wanted to be a surgeon from a young age. I was the first to grab the first aid kit and bandage up anyone in need. As I explored the various fields in medicine and dentistry, I was always drawn to surgery. I am fascinated by anatomy and the delicate intricacies of the human body. Surgery gives me the tools I need to heal people with my hands, the closest job I could find to being a real-life superhero.
DOES BEING A WOMAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE IN HOW YOU APPROACH YOUR CAREER & WHY?
No. My family taught me that I could achieve anything I dreamed if I was passionate, dedicated, hard working and disciplined.
DO OTHER PATIENTS AND COLLEAGUES PERCEIVE YOU DIFFERENTLY BECAUSE YOU’RE A WOMAN & HOW?
Unfortunately, yes. Surgery is a male dominated field and my curly hair makes me look extremely young. I am rarely identified as the surgeon unless I identify myself as the surgeon. Female surgeons are often held to a different standard than our male colleagues. Studies across all surgical subspecialties have shown implicit and explicit bias towards female surgeons. I must be hypervigilant about my language, tone and facial expressions or else I am labeled as: insert explicit language here.
WHAT IS A PERSONAL CHALLENGE YOU FACE AS A FEMALE PHYSICIAN?
As a female surgeon who is a dual degree DDS and MD with a busy schedule, it has been difficult for me to meet Mr. Right. I have not yet found a good match who is comfortable with my professional degrees and schedule. I am a hopeless romantic, so I know he is out there somewhere.
WHAT IS A PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGE YOU FACE AS A FEMALE PHYSICIAN?
Acceptance for who I am as a surgeon without regard to gender. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is only 8% female and we must prove out talent on a regular basis. My goal is to let my excellent outcomes speak for my ability as a surgeon. Another personal goal is to reduce the gender gap in my field by educating the public about the many facets of OMFS and encouraging more females to enter the field.
WHAT CAN (and DO) YOU DO THAT HELPS EMPOWER YOU TO BE THE BEST FEMALE PHYSICIAN YOU CAN BE?
Mentorship. In addition to constant education, I reach out to my senior OMFS mentors when I have a difficult surgery or patient to bounce off ideas and make sure I am approaching the surgery correctly. When we expose ourselves to multiple solutions to the same problem, it makes us better and ensures delivery of top notch care. I also provide mentorship to students wanting to enter OMFS to help them succeed and ensure that I am helping groom the next generation of surgeons. Nothing is more empowering than education.