In honor of National Women Physicians Day, we recognize our female surgeons at University Surgical Associates and share their perspectives on the path to a healthcare career.

National Women Physicians Day

On February 3, we join healthcare organizations around the nation in honoring National Women Physicians Day. The event celebrates the birthday of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in America to earn her medical degree.

At University Surgical Associates, we’re fortunate to have several female physicians on our medical team. They are:

Neelima Katragunta, MD, FACS – vascular surgeon

Julie Koffron, MD, FACS – HPB surgeon

Shauna Lorenzo-Rivero, MD, FACS, FASCRS – colorectal surgeon

Lisa A. Smith, MD, FACS – pediatric surgeon

Beth Snell, MD, FACS – breast surgeon

Laura E. Witherspoon, MD, FACS – breast surgeon

To inspire the next generation of female physicians, we asked our surgeons who inspired their career path and what advice they would give to aspiring doctors.

Lisa A. Smith, MD, FACS

Pediatric Surgeon

Dr Lisa Smith

Q: Who are the women physicians who most inspire you?

I trained in a time where there were few female surgery residents and even fewer attendings (Dr. Laura Witherspoon joined the group during my residency), so I found a mentor in [USA founder] Dr. [Phillip] Burns. He recognized me as a surgeon first and also a woman. Inspiring women physicians? All of them—it’s tough to be a surgeon, whether you’re a man or woman, so they’re all good.

Q: What advice would you give young women interested in becoming a physician?

There’s always more to do than time to do it, so make your priorities and adjust them as life dictates.  You can do it all, just not all at the same time.

Shauna Lorenzo-Rivero, MD, FACS, FASCRS

Colorectal Surgeon

Q: Who are the women physicians who most inspire you?

The first female physician who inspired me was my pediatrician. I knew both men and women could be physicians; however, I decided to become a surgeon in the 3rd grade when the father of one of my classmates came to class to help us dissect cows’ eyes. He was an ophthalmologist. That’s the day I came home and told my parents I was going to become a surgeon. I don’t really think about gender as an obstacle. To me, both men and women are inspiring and can be great mentors.

Q: What advice would you give young women interested in becoming a physician?

My advice to ANY young person interested in becoming a physician is to believe in yourself and never give up. The road will be long and arduous, but the only way to get there is to keep on going. You will have set backs and some bad days, but you will have some AMAZING days, too. It is worth it, but only YOU can do it. If you give up, then medicine is not for you.