Paying it Forward to Women in Orthopedics

Paying it Forward to Women in Orthopedics

Sonya Sloan, M.D.

I have learned to appreciate the saying, “If you want to hear God laugh, then make a plan.” When it came to my aspirations to become a doctor and a surgeon, God’s sense of humor was in over drive. No one looked like me in residency. No one had a background like me. But perhaps that was my saving grace; because no one had a drive like me, to make it and be the first African-American female Orthopedic Surgeon at a top residency program in the United States.

I didn’t plan for it, that is, each step that would lead me to be who I am today. But I did pray for it. To be successful and a positive image for others like me. And I do believe that sometimes blessing will chase you down from behind. But please heed my warning. Be careful for what you ask the all mighty for, you may get more than you bargained for.

You will never be able to script each phase of your life or career. I think there in lies the intrigue and the desire to keep going. We as women, who are fighters and or perhaps ‘never say give up’ chicks with M.D.s, just keep going. We have a tenacity that won’t allow us to stop. We have a craving for success that cannot be curved. And more than anything we know that we know, we have a date with destiny that won’t let us quit until we have achieved what we set out to accomplish.

So what does a woman, physician, and or surgeon do with drive, tenacity and a date with destiny? She succeeds and then learns to pay it forward. This term has changed the world since the movie “Pay it Forward” aired on the big screen in 2000. Random acts of kindness and philanthropic endeavors have increase exponentially just with the idea of a heroic gesture with nothing expected in return.

You have probably been part of this movement as giver or recipient, and sometimes unbeknownst to you. In light of the current atmosphere we live in today (Women’s Movement, #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter) everyone owes someone something. Make no mistake you did not get to where you are on your grades and good looks alone. There is always someone standing in the background, your shadows, or the recesses of decision-making board rooms. These people intercede on your behalf. Not always because you deserve it or ask for it. These people are the one who know that sometimes it takes a gentle push or strong nude to usher the frequency of your success in a positive direction.

Take a moment and just think of every man and woman who spoke life into you, encouraged you and or prayed for you. Recall every face who helped you be who you are today. And don’t forget those who wanted to see you fail. I call them the nay-sayers or “needed-haters”. These are the people who can and will teach you more than others do at times with undo stress with a refined outcome.

So no… I didn’t give you 3 helpful hints for huge success as a female who wants to go into Orthopedics. But realistically you already know it.

  1. Bust your ass
  2. Play the game (and yes sweetheart-it is a game of chess…pun intended)
  3. Read and share my book the Rules of Medicine, a medical professionals guide to success.

And then remember, you got this. I am here to remind you that you can do it…I did!

Lastly and most importantly, pay it forward please. I promise you, there is another young woman who is watching you, looking for advice, support, mentorship. Or perhaps she just needs a hand up in a world where society is continuously building walls for the glass ceiling that already exists. Just make sure you give her the right tools, like a hammer or mallet to shatter that ceiling.