Dr. Magliato describes the rewards and challenges of being a cardiothoracic surgeon, a profession that demands skill, endurance, toughness and compassion in equal measure.
Heart surgery, writes the author, is “the biggest boys club of them all.” A 46-year-old mother of two who received her qualification ten years ago, Magliato is blunt about the challenges she has faced. She explains how she and her surgeon husband juggle the demands of their 24/7 careers and child care, and she acknowledges the existence of sexual harassment in the hospital. “[S]exism is alive and well in the field of medicine,” she writes. “Ask any female doctor. It’s our dirty little secret.” The author has had to fight discrimination at every step of her career, beginning with her first days as an intern in general surgery, when she assisted in a heart operation and held a living heart in her hand. “My mind was reeling with the possibility that I could touch the human heart every day,” she writes. “What an incredible honor and privilege.” In addition to addressing the difficulties facing women in her field, Magliato is a vocal advocate for women as patients. Because women have different symptoms than men, she writes, their heart disease is frequently not recognized until it is too late. In fact, “in a survey done a mere four years ago, fewer than one in five physicians recognized that more women die of heart disease than men each year, and among primary care physicians, only 8 percent knew this fact.” Magliato is a courageous, successful doctor with admirable goals and an impressive résumé. Though her writing could use some polish, her story is inspiring.
Bold and educative.