Featured Thoracic Surgeons: Monthly Features

Today’s Women in CT Surgery

Here we will feature women who represent the wide breadth of practicing thoracic surgeons in our field today.  We look forward to highlighting new women on a monthly basis, showing the great strides in patient care, research, humanitarian work, patient advocacy, and leadership being accomplished by women in our field.  We take pride in showcasing the fantastic women in CT Surgery, setting phenomenal examples both in and out of the operating room.

This month’s featured surgeons:

Drs Julia Swanson and Stephanie Fuller 

Julia Swanson, MD

“I never thought of myself as a pioneer.  I grew up loving science and people and pursuing medicine just made sense.  I was exposed to cardiac physiology early and loved how logical it was.  Surgery attracted me with its definitiveness and once I was involved in operations and had the opportunity to fix a patient I was sold.   Cardiac surgery naturally followed.  I paid no attention to the fact that I did not have a single female mentor or attending until my super fellowship – my 11th year of post-graduate training.  I ultimately returned to Oregon where I began my training and became the first woman Cardiac Surgeon in Portland, Oregon.  A city with 8 hospitals that perform cardiac surgery.

I find the population of adult congenital heart disease patients incredibly rewarding to care for.  The number of adults with congenital heart disease now surpasses the number of children with congenital heart disease in the US.  These are the patients who were brave and underwent operations at the advent of congenital surgery.  They have incredible stories to tell.”

Dr. Swanson is truly a renaissance woman, with a phenomenal range of skills both clinically and outside of work.  She is quite the powerhouse of an all-star.  She was nominated by Dr. Lauren Kane, who shares the following laudatory remarks:

“Julia Swanson is a wonderful surgeon and amazing human being that I am privileged to call my friend. She has an impressive career path, with training at some of the best institutions across this country. She is now in practice with a special interest in adult congenital and mitral valve surgery. She practices a wide range of cardiac operations on all age groups. Her patients love her. She is also a runner that knocks out a 50 mile run, no problem. Finishes the Ironman New Zealand like it is not that big a deal (it really is a BIG deal)! Always impressed with her great attitude, enthusiasm for life, love of the outdoors and being an excellent cardiac surgeon. Proud to call her a friend and colleague.”

Dr. Swanson completing an Iron Man competition

Dr. Swanson operating

Dr. Swanson and her fiance Mark

Stephanie Fuller, MD, MS

“Upon first meeting us, patients are thrust into a world of chaos, anxiety and fear.  Taking care of the whole patient and making them feel as comfortable as possible given what they are going through is as much a part of the job as performing  the procedures with excellent technical results.   It gives me great satisfaction knowing that I operate for two reasons: to give someone a better quality of life or a longer life.  It is truly a privilege to do this for a living.

Yes, the career involves a lot of sacrifices, emotional rollercoasters and dedication but the rewards are immense.  As an academic surgeon, it’s an honor to positively influence, inspire and help build future cardiothoracic surgeons.  I’ve been fortunate to have great mentors and opportunities.  For this I am forever grateful and really hope to give back to the next generation.

And of course this would be impossible without the love and support of my family and friends.  Lucky to have their never-ending encouragement and patience!  Do what you love and love what you do!”

Dr. Stephanie Fuller is an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.  She is also the Surgical Director of the Philadelphia Adult Congenital Heart Center and the Program Director for the Congenital Cardiothoracic Surgery Training Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  She is a fascinating woman boht in and out of the OR.  She expresses a commitment to rhino conservation, which is one of her passions, and considers riding horses to be her lifeline.  She was nominated by Dr. Lauren Kane, who states the following:

“Dr. Stephanie Fuller is an accomplished congenital heart surgeon and associate professor in the division of cardiothoracic surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and triple board certified. She is a genuine, unpretentious and wonderful human being. She treats the full spectrum of congenital heart disease from the neonates the day they are born to the survivors of congenital heart defects who have needs into adulthood. She is well published and has given talks and lectures around the world. Her contributions to our understanding of neurodevelopment outcomes in complex congenital heart surgery are invaluable. She is active nationally in our societies and a powerful contributor to the field of cardiothoracic surgery. She is sought out as a mentor to many young doctors and students. I am grateful to have her both as a friend and colleague.”

Dr. Fuller riding a horse

Dr Fuller dehorning a rhino in South Africa

Dr. Fuller operating

For our full list of Past Features, click here.

 If you’d like to submit a nomination for a surgeon feature, you can do so below or at this link.

Featured Surgeon Nomination Form

Please use this form to nominate women thoracic surgeons for a feature on the WTS website. Qualified nominees may be practicing surgeons in adult cardiac, congenital cardiac, or general thoracic surgery. Your nominations are greatly appreciated!