Home E-Weekly February 27, 2018

Female Surgeon Speaks Out Against Sexual Harassment in the OR

Published: February 27, 2018

Christina Jenkins SPEAKING OUT Christina Jenkins, MD, says she was subjected to suggestive comments throughout her surgical residency.

Christina Jenkins, MD, was mortified when an attending surgeon leaned in close over the OR table and said she knew "how to spread good." At the time, she was expanding a surgical clamp underneath a skin graft during one of the first cases she performed as a surgical resident.

It was the first, but unfortunately not the last, time Dr. Jenkins would be subjected to sexually suggestive comments and advances from her superiors. Her chief resident allegedly said he could ease some of her workplace demands if she agreed to have sex with him. Dr. Jenkins, who says she was subjected to numerous other lewd comments during her residency, didn't report the incidences because she was afraid speaking up would lead to more stress during an extremely stressful time in her training and prevent her from receiving recommendation letters she needed to further her career.

Dr. Jenkins, who is now a colorectal surgeon and faculty member at Loma Linda (Calif.) University Medical Center, is one of several surgeons and nurses who shared their sexual harassment stories with NBC News. She's now wondering, along with countless other women in health care, when medicine's #MeToo moment will happen.

Elizabeth Raskin, MD, a colorectal surgeon who works with Dr. Jenkins at Loma Linda Medical Center, says she also put up with lewd comments when she began working in the OR as a surgical tech. She's now determined to be part of a revolution that ends surgery's male-dominated culture and wants to protect all female healthcare workers from sexual harassment.

"In the wrong hands, power manifests as overreaching power, which will dictate what's going on outside of the operating room," she told NBC News. "It's made me realize what I don't want to be like and to be an advocate for women."

Daniel Cook

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