Raising Nerd’s Women In Science
Associate Chief of Spine Surgery, Newton-Wellesley Hospital
Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Tufts University School of Medicine
“….there are hidden opportunities in every interaction. People will tell you that you cannot do it…you can!”
Dr. Jessica Aidlen is an orthopedic spine surgeon who is trailblazing the way for other women surgeons. In addition to being a role model for future women in medicine, she also teaches orthopedic residents and spine surgeon fellows sharing her expertise and experience with the next generation of surgeons. A top recommended and rated spinal surgeon in the New England area, she also has published research and is mother of 2 young children.
How did you discover you wanted to be a spinal surgeon?
Growing up, I was always interested in math and science. My dad was an engineer and always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be, and taught me the importance of doing what you love. I was an athlete and an artist too so orthopedic spine surgery is truly the perfect combination of art, engineering/physics, sports, teamwork, leadership, and helping people.
What advice would you give to girls interested in pursuing your specific field?
Never give up on your vision, but make yourself well-rounded – pursue hobbies and meaningful connections with people, there are hidden opportunities in every interaction. People will tell you that you cannot do it…you can!
Talk about the challenges you faced as a trailblazer in your field.
It was a long road to truly break into a male-dominated field and I still face challenges every day with being a busy surgeon mom and the constant balancing act. I have been challenged by the concept of the “imposter syndrome” – the feeling that perhaps I don’t actually belong here because I am a woman. Then I reflect on the fact that I truly love my career, I have made a huge impact on the lives of many people around me (not just my patients!), and I continue to gain respect from my family, my community, and most importantly, myself.
“People will tell you that you cannot do it…you can!”
Where do you anticipate the next big opportunity for girls in your field and what can they do to position themselves for success?
I anticipate the next opportunity for girls in our field to be in leadership and innovation. Girls can get involved early, in high school, making connections with mentorship programs (such as the Perry Initiative) that educate and advocate for advancement into surgical careers. Developing female leaders in orthopedic surgery provides a unique opportunity for important changes in the field and in our society as a whole.
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Celebrating Women in Science
February 11th is International Women & Girls in Science Day, so please join us in honoring these amazing women by sharing their stories and reminding every girl interested in STEM that with the desire, access, and a little persistence, they can do anything!
To read more about our tribute to the Women of Science, click here.