Meet the female surgeons who are calling for a change in medical culture.

#ILookLikeASurgeon is making a big difference in the medical community.

For the past two months, surgeons from across the globe have been tweeting under the hashtag #ILookLikeASurgeon.

They're calling out unequal treatment in the workplace, offering support for one another, and showing the world what a diverse operating room could look like.

The viral movement was founded by Dr. Heather Logghe.

The general surgery resident at the University of North Carolina Health Care tweeted the hashtag after watching Twitter users challenge engineering stereotypes through #ILookLikeAnEngineer.


logghe.jpg

Logghe, the surgeon who created the hashtag, with her family. Her daughter celebrated her first birthday in the intern room at the hospital. Photo used with permission.

“It is hard to find role models that remind you of yourself as a woman in surgery," Logghe told Today. “It's been so traditionally male and unfortunately so many of the female role models have had to conform to the male stereotypes to survive."

Unfortunately, Logghe's thoughts about the lack of female power in the operating room aren't unusual.

Despite earning advanced degrees and entering the workforce at rates comparable to (and sometimes exceeding) men, women still face gender-based challenges in their careers. Female surgeons know that as well as anyone because women make up only one-third of surgery programs in the U.S.

After Logghe tweeted her thoughts at #ILookLikeASurgeon, she realized that other female surgeons experienced challenges in the operating room just like she did.

One of the most common experiences that these surgeons referenced? Colleagues and patients often assume that female surgeons are nurses.

One female surgeon suggested using this standard reply:

The hashtag has also provided female surgeons with the opportunity to "meet" female surgeon role models.

One Twitter user pointed out that this is especially important for a field where where most professional mentors are still male.

As the hashtag blew up, surgeons of other minority groups joined the call for a culture change, too.

Surgeons told stories of uncomfortable work environments for people of color and surgeons with disabilities. They also discussed the challenges of balancing work and life with family, something that resonated not only with surgeons, but with male and female doctors in other fields and med students as well.

“I've heard from many men who want the [medical] workplace culture to change so they can lead fuller lives and be fully present parents," Logghe told Upworthy.

The coolest part of #ILookLikeASurgeon? It's actually changing things in the medical community.

Medical journals and organizations have now expressed their support of diversity in the operating room, and #ILookLikeASurgeon is expected to be a major theme in the upcoming Association of Women Surgeons conference, too.

Plus, this online movement shows us that surgeons (and engineers, and game developers, and professors) can look like just about anyone.

Cheers to you, Dr. Heather Logghe!

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In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

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Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

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Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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