As part of our Women in Surgery Series we spent a few minutes with an aspiring Trauma Surgeon Nisha Mallya. Born in Yorkshire, Nisha went on to study medicine in the South of India before returning to the UK to undertake rotations in Trauma and Orthopaedics, Accident and Emergency and General Surgery. She is currently a clinical fellow in General Surgery for NHS Wales.
Hi Nisha, it’s a pleasure talking with you today.
So, have you always wanted to be a surgeon?
No – Even though I’d always enjoyed surgery throughout my training, I didn’t feel like I quite ‘fit’ into any particular speciality.
Interesting, so why trauma surgery?
Well, shortly after qualifying I was caught in a life-or-death situation, involving tear gas and riots, that eventually helped me realise where I ‘fit’ - Trauma Surgery. I haven’t looked back since.
Wow that sounds like a powerful experience – life changing even.
We talk a lot about role models in the field and their role in the development of budding surgeons. Who are your role models and why?
In terms of colleagues, there’s: Jennifer Wheat, an ST6 Upper GI Surgeon. She epitomizes the kind of surgeon I’d like to be and is always there for me when I need her; Barry Appleton, a colorectal/general surgeon and my current educational supervisor - a very honest, down-to-earth surgeon who takes a great interest in all his trainees; Ujjal Choudhuri, a Trauma an orthopaedic surgeon who helped me a lot when I first started working in the NHS and gave me the best guidance I’ve ever been given in my life!; Martin Griffiths, a trauma and vascular surgeon. When I attended a Trauma Surgery taster session in London, Mr Griffiths depicted the kind of leadership skills I’d like to possess, while remaining a surgeon who deeply cared about his patients and staff.
My other role model is Serena Williams. The reason why is, I think, perfectly summed up in this video:
Do you feel that women are equally represented in your speciality ?
No I don’t. I feel that surgery is still a very male-dominated field….but it’s getting there!
What do you think is the biggest challenge for women in surgery?
Sometimes in certain specialities there is a feeling of disempowerment, just for being female.
What do you think the Royal Colleges and GMC could do to encourage more women into a career in surgery?
I actually think that the royal colleges and the GMC are currently doing quite a bit. With time we will see whether this has an impact or not.
Last but by no means least, what advice would you give to a woman considering a career in surgery?
You have a voice - make sure you use it.
Nisha, thank you for your time today it’s been great.