International Women's Day: Personalised scrub caps for women surgeons

  • Published
Gill CribbImage source, Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital
Image caption,
Gill Cribb said patients often assumed she was not a surgeon

A group of female surgeons are heading up a new initiative to stop them being mistaken for non-surgical staff.

To mark International Women's Day they have produced personalised theatre scrub caps to promote women in surgery.

Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) in Oswestry, Shropshire, said approximately 12% of surgeons across the UK were female.

Gillian Cribb had the idea, saying many people assumed "if you're not male, you're not an orthopaedic surgeon".

"It is becoming less so, but sometimes patients are surprised," she said.

"I will talk to a patient in clinic about an operation and they will ask who is doing it, they assume because you are female you won't be the surgeon."

The hospital trust said in the sub-speciality of trauma and orthopaedics, the number of female surgeons dropped to less than 6%.

Image source, Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital
Image caption,
About 12% of surgeons across the UK are female

Miss Cribb, a consultant orthopaedic and oncological surgeon, said: "When we are in an operating theatre for a whole day, we work with different people we don't know.

"There are introductions, but in theatre we don't have badges on for infection control. People can forget what your name is, that is where the movement with the caps started.

"But there is an extra bit in terms of women in surgery.

"If the caps have the job title people do recognise you are an orthopaedic surgeon, which is particularly important for trainees, who often don't have the confidence to say, 'I am surgeon'."

She said 25% of her new trainees were female.

"It is nice able to see it is changing," she said. "When I was training, I had very few female surgeons to look up to so I'm delighted I can be a role model for local, female registrars."

The Royal College of Surgeons said: "Women have long been under-represented in surgery, but this situation is gradually improving as more women succeed in the profession.

"Our Women in Surgery network is on a mission to improve that further."

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