Dr. Lauren Kane practices as a Congenital Cardiac Surgeon at The Heart Center at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, University of Central Florida. Dr. Kane attended medical school at the University of Texas Houston and completed General Surgery Residency at University of Texas Southwestern Dallas. Following this she went on to complete a fellowship in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Emory University, and fellowship in Congenital Heart Surgery at University of Southern California at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. She has served as faculty at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio and Baylor College of Medicine before her current position at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. Dr. Kane serves as the President of the Women in Thoracic Surgery organization, is active in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, Southern Thoracic Surgical Association, and was recently awarded the Carolyn Reed Traveling Scholarship, during which she gathered international surgical experience in her travels to India, Japan and England. Dr. Kane is chair of the patient education website for Society of Thoracic Surgeons and enjoys participating in the education of both patients and physicians.
welcome to essential wisdom. Inspiring future female physicians. A podcast for engaging and informing the next generation of women in medicine. My name is carried a bow. I'm 1/4 year medical student at the Frank H. Netter, MD. School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University. Essential Wisdom is a podcast for discussing the joys and the challenges off being a woman in medicine through the sharing of stories and advice by women who mentor us. Take a seat with me at the desk of the mentors. Come along, tow, walk the holes of the hospitals to experience residency and life as a physician personally, as we get to know these phenomenal physicians and scientists. Hello, everyone, and welcome to essential wisdom inspiring future female physicians. My name is Carrie, and I'm thrilled that you decided to tune in to dive into this great conversation with Dr Lawrence Caine. Dr. Caine practices as a congenital cardiac surgeon at the Heart Center at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children University of Central Florida. Dr. Caine attended medical school at the University of Texas Houston and complete a general surgery residency at University of Texas, Southwestern Dallas. Following this, she went on to complete a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at Emory University and Fellowship in congenital heart surgery at University of Southern California at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. She has served as faculty at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio and Baylor College of Medicine before her current position at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. Dr Caine serves as the vice president of the women and Jurassic Surgery Organization. She is active in the Society of Jurassic Surgeons Southern Jurassic Surgical Association and was recently awarded the Caroline Reid Traveling Scholarship, during which she gathered international surgical experience in her travels to India, Japan and England. Dr Caine is chair of the patient education website for Society of Jurassic Surgeons, and she enjoys participating in the education of both patients and physicians. Dr. Caine, It is an absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Welcome to essential wisdom. Thank you so
much. It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for inviting me.
It's a pleasure to have you and I'm so excited that we'll have this opportunity to share your story today. The way that I like to start off all of the conversations is just by asking you to tell us about your path to becoming a female physician.
Okay, um, I just had a interest in the way the body works, the way the physiology works. And so when I started college, I started with the idea that I would do a bunch of science classes and see if I liked him. Uh, that doesn't really mean you do or do not belong in medicine if you do or do not like your science classes. However, I did like him and I went forward and pursued taking the M cat, which is a test to get into medical school. And I did find on that and then applied and got in. I had no physicians in my family or, uh, anybody I knew. So it was a little bit of, ah, a unknown that I was going to, but it But it seemed to be kind of the direction that I felt called to go to. I really liked him. Did great in those courses that, um you take before you go to medical school. So that was that was how I came a medical student in the physician.
Would you say that? Um, pursuing medicine was something you ever wanted when you were a child or prior to college
umpire, Ecologist, but not so much as a child. I think probably in my mid to late 18 years, e thought a vague abstract. I thought of going into medicine, but again, not knowing anyone and not having an exposure to any of it. I wasn't 100% sure. And that and I should say right now that I'm totally the person who would not claim a major until i e. So I wouldn't claim that that's what I did you until I was doing it.
I love that. I can relate to that. Trying to understand all of your opportunities before picking the one exactly, Um, when you were in college and making that decision who was influential in your choice and in your path toe, you know, taking the, um, cat and getting this whole application cycle done.
Um, interestingly, it was one of my early classes that one of my professors, you know, pulled me aside and just said, What is it that you think you want to do with your life? And I said, I think I want to be a doctor and he said, Well, you need to get Thio a good college and apply and get going because you're really good at this. Not really. Is what sparked me to think. Oh, well, maybe I could do this. And, uh and then from there, you know, it just was it was more a SZ faras the application process, just the pre med office that help kind of may figure out the steps the take for medical applications.
Did you have any female mentors at the time or or would you say that they were mostly male mentors,
mostly male, actually worked in a basic science lab with a PhD, a male that we worked very closely together.
So one of the things that I have kind of come across when I'm talking to everybody about this is like we love and appreciate all of armor. Male mentors. Many of mine have also been in my young path here, But, um, one of the things that I've consistently heard from people is that it's difficult to find women to look up to, to emulate in defining and understanding where you're trying to go in the field, because there aren't as many women ahead of you toe looked toe Look. Toward what? What are your thoughts on that?
Well, I came in at a time that that was very true. There were a lot of women ahead to look too, and I did not see that for myself. A barrier? Um, I utilized what I had, which was mostly male mentors. Um, um, So I don't think that anybody should ever feel they're limited by not having that. I think you can definitely achieve what you want to achieve without having a female mentor. However, I think it's a really nice addition if you d'oh! And I think it has some really special roles to play. In addition, if you do, and I think it has some really special roles to play, if you're lucky enough, toe have that. I was very determined, you know, I knew what I wanted to accomplish and really just I don't think anybody could stop me, so, you know, from that standpoint, But I I'm excited that their arm or more women going into surgery in general. But even going into cardiothoracic surgery and congenital, which is my particular area, I think it's really exciting and I think it's a really good change because there's a lot of barriers whether they're just mental barriers, physical barriers that have think having more women in the field will help break down.
Do you think you could talk a little bit more on the experience than of choosing surgery as your profession?
Sure. Um, that's it may sound silly, but I remember being a first year watching the fourth years graduate. Okay, I was like, Oh, I wish I knew what I was going to go into. I wish I knew what I was gonna do cause I didn't know at that point and somebody said to me, Just a random comment. You'll go into what your personality fits. Then I said, Oh, well, what is my personality fit into? You know, I would, I idea. But then, when I rotated on my rotations, I love surgery. I liked everything else that I loved surgery. I was, my friends would say to me, Oh my God, you're glowing and you're on to something is wrong with you. I just I could have spent 24 hours a day every day and wanted more. And if you think about what you do is a medical student on surgery. That's a little hard to imagine. Part of it was I felt like I belonged in that group because I my personality, did match theirs, and my drives did match theirs. And so I think that that comment was actually more accurate than you think about wanting to go into something that your personality fits into.
Absolutely. Um, I don't I think that it might be a stereotype, but every time I've run into it, it holds true. I can relate to that. Even just having come out of my 30 rotations and and seeing the way that myself and my classmates have started to peel off into our respective choices and makes a little sense,
yeah, it really Yeah, if you look at it really fit, that's pretty well,
um, so what was it like then, for you choosing cardiothoracic surgery? I
loved it. I thought it was really interesting. I actually decided on it a little late. The very first month of my fourth year, I finally admitted that that was what I was going to do to myself and everybody else was really interesting, because faculty in general surgery. We're coming out of the woodworks to talk me out of it. Well, um, nobody had a good thing to say about it. Everybody told me all the negatives with it, and I just had to listen to my gut and listen to myself because I'm the only one who's deciding for me with no ulterior motives, whether they know it or not. So everybody wants what they think is best for you. You're the only one who really knows what is best for you. So I pursued it despite being You're quite aggressively pursue Thio to talk me out of it. And I'm really glad I did.
Yeah. If you remember back to that time, was there a field that people were urging you to go into rather than cardiothoracic?
Yes. They were pushing me hard to go into vascular surgery, but my program director was a vascular surgeon, and so they would try to push people they felt were good into my field. Okay. And then, mind you, I can't remember the exact number. There were 13 of us residents in my class, and I want to say seven of them went into Vascular.
Wow. Oh, my gosh,
due to the intense, you know, pressure. But,
wow, the availability of certain types of surgeons does really impact. Um, what you might go into.
I think so. And I think. And I think when I say it, it pressured them. I think that the tactic was Maur complimentary. Like you're so good. We want you in this field. But a lot of people came to that, and I really just listen to me and my heart and didn't It was flattering toe have them trying to get me to do that. But I knew in the end I was the one who had to wake up and do it every day.
Absolutely. Um, so it sounds like most of your career path decisions have been really self driven, um, in, like, determined by your priorities yet which is which is also very much so,
trusting my own instincts. Yes. What do you
think was one thing you wish you knew when you were either, ah, medical student or a resident that you look back on and say, Wow, it would have been really helpful to know this.
You know what I think? The best piece of advice that goes kind of along those lines that I would give anybody who is asking or once the listen is Do what you get excited about what you're passionate about, and I think that that and I know it sounds silly with everything I just said. But there was definitely a lot of am I picking the right thing? Is this the right thing? How do I know where? Because, as you know, is a medical student. You're always having to pick things before you really have all the information. And so, you know, there was still doubt or wonder or, you know, I'm going with my gut. But, gosh, it better be right. Don't pick what sexy. What makes the most money? What you know, has the best prestige would ever pick what you get excited about. And you'll really enjoy your career.
I love that. That's such important advice. And I mean, I need to listen to that, and so do so many people that I know
it takes. It takes some bravery to listen to your your own in their voices sometimes.
Absolutely, absolutely. So in that same like vein, when you chose congenital cardiac surgery, did you have the same people saying, Oh, no, don't do it. Or was that just really natural? I
didn't have any naysayers at that point. A ce faras the people around me. Might the people training me? Um, they did not speak poorly of it. I would hear in Maurin a general term that there's no jobs in congenital. It's, you know, hard to get into more. Most people fail in the 1st 5 years and going, you know, So I had those kind of districts and things, but those were all actually true, so close to, you know, Yuri is going away, and it's a dying field and all that, which is not true. The warnings. I heard I didn't take him the same way because they're there, actually true. But in the end, it's really what I wanted the most, and I felt it was important to me to go for it. There's there's a good business piece of advice that I'd hear sometimes in medicine, and that's there's always room for the best at the top. Ah, right or in the like that? Yeah, so I said, Well, I'll just have to be one of the best
and I will
always be room for me.
That's amazing. I don't need a
partner, wasn't sure. But that's what
I really like it. I really like it, um, in your path of going through that and choosing something that's so unique and truly to a lot of people, something I think it's like, I can't even believe that, you know, you do surgery on baby hearts. Um, what is your greatest reward for what you do every day?
So there's no way to say this without being corny, but I The greatest reward is the relationships with Children and their families. Hands down. The greatest reward is to see, you know, a family take, take their child, which is the hardest thing in the world for them to the operating room, bring them back to him and get him home in a better state than they were when they came in. Um, you will forever be in that family's memory, and they're in mind, though I have families in touch with me from from the very first months of my practice. That is truly the most rewarding thing, and to me, that I get out of my field is just It's an incredible I tell all the families and it's so true, I said. Once I operate on your child's heart, you're in my heart family. I will always, always be here for you. I've always been there for anybody who needs me. Afterwards, I have so many families stay in touch with me, even asked me about procedures that their kid's gonna have that have nothing to do with hearts. One of the most precious was one of my One of my sweet families asked me I could be the emergency contact further Canjar child in case something happened, both of them at work.
Oh my gosh,
So that's rewarding.
I'm like speechless. That's so beautiful. It's in such a crazy gift to be a part of these people's lives in such a profound way
in such a profound way, why it is so rewarding. That is really, um I feel very blessed and lucky to do what I d'oh and get the have these connections with people. You know what? Why? I remember saying in the first year med school Oh God, I hope I don't lose my compassion, right? And somebody somebody answer me when I said that and said, Well, if you're saying that you won't ever lose it because you're already thinking about it and it's really it comes so natural to me. TV compassionate and empathetic and connect with my family's. And I connect with them, almost all of them in a way, and almost they all know because they can see it. And they can feel it that I can hear about them and their child. You know, it's not just another surgery that I'm doing. I actually know them and I know their child, and I care. And that really, really helps them get through.
It's it's honestly just seems like such an incredible time to be a part of these young babies and young families that are going through something that probably is so overwhelming to them. Yes, yeah, I'm going
to bring some level of peace, you know?
Yeah. Yeah, specifically, um, as a female in the field, what would you say is either beneficial or specifically challenging?
Um, I think this faras challenges go. It's the it's kind of generic. Across all of, um, Mel dominated fields E. I guess it's a good way to put that that there's all kinds of direct biases and indirect biases. And, um, you know, you're people will treat you different than your cog colleagues. Um, you can say you can ask a question of somebody in a very kind, you know, normal way. And they get very defensive and irritate Yo, and actually ridiculous. In the in, your male partner could act asked the exact same question, the exact same way. And it's let me find out for you and let me do this for you. So there's there's those type of obvious things, but it's also, uh, the the good side. The good side is that so many people that you work with colleagues, um, your nurses your you know, scrub tax. You're in sociologists, all the people that you work with every day. There also a lot of really hungry for just to work with a good person, a good human being. He's going to treat them well, you know, and and see them and acknowledge them. So I think some of the things that get attributed to female traits um, but sometimes our actually a really neat benefit and affect you in a different way. Um, in a good way you're allowed to show you care. You're allowed to give hugs when the families want is a female physician. Sometimes that's a little bit easier
in terms of the positive side of that. I love that. You said you can give hugs because I've actually never heard someone say that before and it's so true. I've definitely seen so many female physicians give hugs and knives many male positions. It's very acceptable. It's
more acceptable for us. So if somebody wants to reach out to hug me, I'll love him. That's also
yeah, on the challenges side of this. Is there a way that you overtime have learned to deal with it or dispel some of the issues surrounding yourself?
Um, yeah. I think over time you mature and you figure out that that really, really you know, silly old saying if you get catch more flies with honey than you know what. So I think once you just get a little bit more comfortable with yourself in your position and your knowledge and your you know your place, you don't It just doesn't bother me in a CZ much, Um, and I have I'm a lot better at dealing with it with a positive response that tends the unarmed people. And, um, you know, And if it's something a little bit more agree, just not just somebody you know, being reactive to you or what not, um, if it's something a lot more unconscious bias or just flat out inappropriate. You know, I've learned that being stern, that being kind works best for me. So I don't have to be. I don't have toe, ignore it or, uh, defend myself or, you know, whatever I can do say, that's just absolutely not okay. When I started general surgery, it was a very, you know, toxic environment and the tougher you are, the better. And I feel like when I looked back and once I started cardiac and I looked back at my general surgery experience, I feel like I was a lot harder then I needed to be, I think, very quickly after a Finnish general surgery, I kind of realized, Oh, wait, you can put up good boundaries without having to be so act as tough, you know you can you can learn how to stand up for yourself in a more positive way.
And that happened in your cardiothoracic residency or fellowship.
Yeah, I think so.
Okay. Interesting. Yeah, I, um That's something that I I certainly wonder about. And I'm sure our some of our listeners do if you're choosing a field where you know it is male dominated, um, one will I lose? My compassion, I guess, is the question then to will I lose some of my own feminine characteristics or need to become born tough? And then how do I recover that at the end. And so that's really interesting that you brought that up.
Yeah, I think it's definitely it's definitely recoverable. But if I know have it to do all over again, you know, the wisdom that I gained through all the years and all the experiences I didn't ever really have to be who I wasn't. I think if I had it to do all over again, I would not be as harsh in that process. In the early process, I could have accomplished the same thing without the harshness. Well,
thank you for sharing that. I think that's really great advice and something that's beneficial for me and for I'm sure other people out there, um, in terms of where the field is now. It's certainly better in terms of how many women are are there. And I'm speaking about just surgery in general. Um, do you think that the do you think that we're continuing to improve in our treatment of women? In some of those biases that do
exist? I think they're I think if you ask somebody that was even more, you know, experience than I am or further along than I am. I think we definitely improved at the same time. Improved doesn't mean that there aren't some pretty severe places that you can go and experiences you can have, but definitely I think it's better.
Some of the idea for creating this podcast was really to talk about these topics so that our women who are planning their careers are informed about what they're looking ahead at. And, um, you know, just education, like we talked about with your interest in education. Like I I feel that education when you're young about these things, is part of, you know, distilling down some of the issues. And I wonder if, um, you would have any advice for, say, a pre medical student who's in college how she couldn't start to build some of these traits of, like, stern but kind, um, at a young age, or how how she can develop towards becoming strong in that way.
That's a good question. So I'm not sure I did that. Well, e, I don't think so. It would be worth while to look into, like, I happened to read books a lot if I wanna learn about something. So, you know, I might read a little bit more about boundaries and, um, about how to how to be effective, you know? And so there's a whole bunch of books out there that there are good at just telling you are kind of helping you put together your own idea of how you would like to function. And I call a lot of I find a lot of the books that I like under more of a business type section. Leadership books. Um, not so much management, but somewhat management. Um, things like that in learning how to set your set. Your boundaries, I think, is probably the best thing to start, as opposed. Thio. Yes. Go volunteer. Go be exposed. Go Shadow people do all of that see if you actually like it, but then on the working on yourself side is has become comfortable in your own skin.
I love that, and I love that you mentioned the business side of things because, um, like not that I mean a wrapping, a book or anything, But I recently bought this book by the Harvard Business Review. They're all business books that have this information that called women at work, and it's excellent. It's a combination of essays about female characters six and how we navigate being at work. And I think it's interesting. I wonder if the business field is a little bit farther advanced in discussing these topics, And we might be, I
think so. And I've read a lot of books like that, Um, and I maybe even read that exact one you're talking about. That is really interesting, and it's great to read about others. People's experience. One of the my favorite titles of books was solving for X and the Y Domain, but that's okay, title of that. So I had to read it. It was really just us is really more of somebody's kind of either of their master thesis or something where they interviewed 16 successful women, um, in the stems. And in that science and engineering and mathematics, Yeah, so and just ask them this series of questions similar to your podcast. And so it's kind of interesting reading through the way those women dealt with and and succeeded. So that's probably what I would recommend.
I went to a women's college, and that's what kind of gave rise to my whole passion for understanding women's role in the workforce and how we can continue to improve. So, um, access toe women physicians and women mentors is important. And, um, obviously gave rise to this podcast. Okay, so that's my That's my soap box. I'll get off of it. I
think it is important. I don't think anyone should let it hold them back if they don't have access to a woman. Mentor accepted. But I do think it's it's a really wonderful thing, you know. And so I agree with you. I think it's it's great, thank you, and we need to be supportive of each other, and we need to help each other get through this
absolutely in understanding. You know, this process of deciding a career, you know, setting your goals. I think that setting priorities is one of the more difficult things. So I I ask this kind of general question, How do you set priorities in your life?
Um, I suppose by what's important to me. It's kind of a simple, simple answer, but I'll give a good example of while I was in training for the nine or so years and paint my schedule was so variable and, uh, not really in my control. So my taking care of myself, My fitness was something that was very hard to have, a kind of constant deal. So I decided that as soon as I was in my career and not training anymore that I have to make that a priority, though I have, and I make sure I get that in. It's that it's the me time. It helps in so many levels that helps. Mentally, it helps. Physically, it's it's really wonderful. So I I set priorities. You know that of things that are important to me, it's important to me to be fit. It's important for me to have, um, down time, and it's not people talk about work, life balance and I'm not so sure that balance is really the right thing to strive for. But I do think you have to have something in your life on a regular basis that restores you and rejuvenate you. And that doesn't necessarily mean an equal amount of this and that, and it doesn't necessarily mean, you know, a particular time dedicated to it. But if when you step away from work, you engage in things that restore you and that the general revives you kind of makes you excited again about life than that I think is a priority to me. And that is something that will keep you going and keep you sustained. And if you listen to the advice you gave it the very beginning, which you love to know what you're passionate about, then your work will actually be part of that.
So I was going to say, if you hadn't have said that, I was gonna say, It's I feel like the relationship that you're talking about with these families and these kids. Is that to you? It sounded like,
Yeah. I mean, I feel like my job. Why would I do for a living? Actually, I get a lot, um, of that reinforcement in my life that makes me happy. So it's really cool, because I don't actually have to get away from my job to get that. And that's why I want to say yes. I say it's not really a work life balance. If you get that out of your job, then that's amazing. And that's great. You know, you don't have to have a mass of yo's time set aside outside of your job. Um, but I love my family. I love travelling. I love, and I think it's important to take part in it and not not wait to live until you're done working. So
speaking of traveling, would you tell us a little bit about your amazing travels on your Carolyn Read Grant scholarship? Oh,
my gosh, that was so wonderful. I was so excited to get that Grant. So I My proposal for that was that I wanted to be exposed to congenital heart surgery around the world. Okay. And I set up, um, visits a week each one in Japan, one in India, New Delhi and one in London, England. And so I went and spent a week with surgeons that do control heart surgery in each of those countries. It was it was really amazing. It was such a incredible trip. They were all so welcoming, Um, and so happy to have me there in observing in the O. R and spending time with them. I really It was just so it was so neat to see the differences and the similarities. Ah, monks are field across very different environments, so wow. Yeah, it was incredible, though. Japan was very the places I went had a lot of really nice, you know, up to date technology. That was their very nice, orderly O R's and things like that and then going to India. It was in a in a private hospital, but it was his kind of bare bones and definitely seemed, you know, very awkward, Canfield To what? I'm used to it. All the regulations stuff in America, so but the surgeries were wonderful, and it was it was struck me it there was just how much they could do with so few. Resource is really, um, and what good care they took care of their patients with, you know, a fraction of what I have at my disposal in America, so that was really inspiring. What
is a piece of advice that you have for women who are in college preparing for medical
school? I know that this is really what you want to do. Don't do it for anybody else, not for your parents, not for any other reason, but do it if you really want to do it. You're dealing with people when they're not at their best when you're in medicine for the most part, so make sure you want to be a doctor, you're in college and you're thinking about medical school in. You know, of course, everybody knows you're supposed to go volunteer and, you know, get around medicine so you can see if you even like it. But don't be afraid to go to a medical school that's in your town or in your area and meet some medical students and talk to them and ask them about what it's like and see if you can learn about it that way as well.
In terms of women who are in medical school now, maybe either selecting residency choices or trying to really figure out what they're interested in, I know you already said, You know, do what you love is there? Is there any other thoughts you might offer for advice in terms of figuring out where you're headed,
all of all of the other things that we all think you're so important at that at that stage, really, they all work out. They will so worrying about having Children or having a family. You can have a family no matter what you pick. If you want to do cardiothoracic surgery, everyone will say it's so impossible to have a family. It's not. It's not impossible at all. However it may, it may change what kind of practice you're interested in. Um, you can work a 1,000,000 hours doing family practice for surgery. You can work reasonable hours doing either. It depends on what your goals are, and what you want are your career. You can create what whatever environment that you're looking for. It's out there that your goals in the chief
thank you, Dr Kane, for coming to speak with essential wisdom, inspiring future female physicians. This was an absolute joy of a conversation to AB, and I hope our listeners truly appreciate and just delight in having this conversation as much as I did. So thank you, Dr Kane, for coming to speak with me and thank you to the listeners for tuning in for this fourth episode. This was the 2nd 1 of our surgeons, and next week we'll be featuring two research scientists who serve as advisers and mentors to pre medical students as well as medical students. So I think that you'll enjoy that from it. A little bit of a different perspective, Um, so thank you for tuning in. If you're interested in following what that's a little bit more, please check us out online. You can find us at an essential wisdom, inspiring physicians dot com at essential wisdom dot bus sprout dot com. Or you can subscribe that apple podcasts or on Spotify podcasts. So please do that. If you're enjoying this, would you please consider sharing this podcast with a friend? It's really important to disseminate this information to talk about the role of women in medicine and how it's continuing to change over time. And I would just love if we could share this message with other women planning their careers and other women maybe even separate from medicine So if you've got somebody in your family who's in college, who's in premed, maybe a medical student, maybe a resident, maybe not somebody in medicine at all. Please share this podcast. And if you're even feeling more excited, please leave us a review on apple podcasts. All of your feedback is very much appreciated. Thank you, everyone. Have a great Monday.