“I didn’t have any female mentors in my residency, so I embrace the role of mentor as much as I can, and I advocate for my patients and staff even when I’m labeled as a “difficult surgeon.”
In honor of National Women Physicians Day, Dr. Amani Jambhekar, MD, an Oncology Surgeon from Texas shares with us how being a female physician has made a difference in her career and personal life, and some of the challenges she faces every day. #ThisFemPhysicianCan
WHY DID YOU GO INTO MEDICINE?
I went in to medicine to give back to underserved communities. Since then I could participate in medical mission trips as well as donate unused surgical supplies to hospitals in Africa.
WHAT IS A PASSION PROJECT OF YOURS?
My passion project is using my IG and TikTok to educate about women in surgery. We are an underrepresented minority. There are no other actual general surgeons/surgical oncologists who are female on TikTok and very few on IG.
WHAT IS AN AWARENESS CAMPAIGN THAT IS MOST PERSONAL TO YOU & WHY?
Breast cancer awareness because I’m a surgical oncologist. We rock pink scrubs every day because the month of October is not enough.
WHAT ARE SOME FUN FACTS ABOUT YOURSELF?
I’m an excellent writer and photographer! I also am almost finished with my MBA!
WHO IS THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSON IN YOUR CAREER OR LIFE & WHY?
My residency program director Dr. Jim Rucinski because he never gave up on me and always rooted for me even when I was bullied and ostracized for being a female surgery resident with a strong personality. In my residency, the female residents experienced bullying from the male residents. This was so significant that multiple women dropped out of the program and one actually tried to hurt herself.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE TO FUTURE MDS?
Stay true to who you are and always remember medicine is a team sport. Look out for your colleagues and they will look out for you.
FAVORITE MEDELITA PRODUCT & WHY?
The Vandi Lab Coat is my favorite because it’s very roomy and has plenty of pockets to store my things.
DOES BEING A WOMAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE IN HOW YOU APPROACH YOUR CAREER? WHY?
Yes. Studies have shown women spend more time with patients and are more empathetic. Studies about female surgeons have shown a slightly lower complication and readmission rate. However studies have also shown when female surgeons experience a complication, they are more likely to be punished harshly by referring providers who will then send patients elsewhere. I know I am a better surgeon because I’m a woman, but I have to be careful because the consequences for me are different than the 80% of male surgeons in my field.DO OTHER PATIENTS AND COLLEAGUES PERCEIVE YOU DIFFERENTLY BECAUSE YOU’RE A WOMAN? HOW?
Every day I have patients who ask if I’m their nurse or ask me to tell them exactly where I did my training and for how many years. I proudly wear pink scrubs, makeup, and paint my nails. I am changing patient AND other healthcare provider perceptions about women in surgery . . . One patient at a time.
WHAT IS A PERSONAL CHALLENGE YOU FACE AS A FEMALE PHYSICIAN?
Personally, I find it difficult to prioritize everything I need to with my own family, when I am involved in my MBA classes and so many ongoing conversations with people at work. This includes wedding planning for me now - it is hard to find time to fit it in!
WHAT IS A PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGE YOU FACE AS A FEMALE PHYSICIAN?
A professional challenge I face is other doctors don’t always want to call me “Dr. Jambhekar” or shake my hand. Instead they will call me by my first name and try to hug me. I find this unprofessional and try to make the best of the situation but I wish it never happened. I always correct them and tell them I prefer to be called by my last name.
WHAT CAN (and DO) YOU DO THAT HELPS EMPOWER YOU TO BE THE BEST FEMALE PHYSICIAN YOU CAN BE?
I stand up for myself, my patients who are mostly female, my staff, and other women. I mentor many young women who want to become surgeons and am happy to edit college essays and personal statements and give them advice. I didn’t have any female mentors in my residency, so I embrace the role of mentor as much as I can, and I advocate for my patients and staff even when I’m labeled as a “difficult surgeon.”