Drive to train women as surgeons

October 22, 1999

Female medical students are being targeted by the Royal College of Surgeons, which has pledged to double the number of women consultant surgeons in the next five years.

The college looks after postgraduate training and qualifications. There are only 210 female consultant surgeons.

Barry Jackson, college president, said: "Our main target is to increase the number of women consultants from 5 per cent to 10 per cent in five years and to at least 20 per cent in the next ten years. These are ambitious but realistic targets. I am confident that we will meet them."

To raise numbers quickly, the college is targeting medical schools, where women made up 56 per cent of the new intake last year. The college is organising social events, coordinated by a student representative at each school, to give students the chance to talk to male and female surgeons in all specialties. Careers fairs will also take place.

The college wants to encourage women into branches of surgery in which they are under-represented. Almost 20 per cent of consultants in paediatric surgery are women compared with 3.2 per cent in general surgery, 1.7 per cent in orthopaedics and 1.2 per cent in cardiothoracics.

The college is also focusing on sixth-formers. "It is holding a roadshow to show that people like me can be a surgeon and a mother," said Su Boddy, who is an RCS adviser and a part-time surgeon at St George's in London.

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