Scrubbing in and Standing Out
Miss Samantha Tross – Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon
Becoming a Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon was the culmination of years of preparation and training. It was also the beginning of a new chapter as an independent practitioner. Finding out I was the first black female orthopaedic surgeon in the UK was an interesting added dimension and responsibility to the role. I remember going around to the Royal Colleges inquiring as to whether this was actually the fact. The various Royal Colleges of Surgeons that cover the UK confirmed it – certainly they were not aware of anyone else before me.
Recently, a colleague was asked if “this kind of thing” mattered anymore. While such things don’t affect my day to day work, indirectly, it is increasingly evident, that it does provide encouragement to younger generations. Those who are aspiring surgeons or doctors-in-training. So in turn, it does matter to me. As they find it empowering to know there are female black consultant orthopaedic surgeons already in post. It emboldens them to pursue this avenue, if it is indeed their career of choice.
Having worked closely alongside other black and minority ethnic background healthcare professionals, we have been able to enable and uplift each other as we care for our patients. Those who are in the wider black community, including my patients, have also directly told me they find it particularly heartening to have someone caring for them who looks a bit like them! Having someone who is open to and instinctively understands the cultural dynamics related to their experience enhances the care they feel they receive.
When juniors and students ask me how best they can apply their efforts into pursuing a career in orthopaedics, I initially check with them to ensure that this is really what they want to do. As soon as they confirm this, I encourage them to be undaunted in the pursuit of that goal. There will be obstacles and they are not to be put off by them. That is par for the course. They need to be unafraid to work hard. They need to ensure they are well rounded by engaging in activities outside of their curricula. Equally as important is to engage with building their portfolios, getting involved in regular audits, quality improvement projects and publications. In order to distinguish themselves from the pack. A mentor, someone who is just a few steps ahead, is also of added benefit, to assist and encourage them in their pursuit.
One of my most recent achievements is being the first woman in the UK to perform a robotic-assisted hip replacement. My position of leadership has afforded me such opportunities and has been a great platform.
Self development is imperative. I have a constant desire to improve myself. To be the best that I can be. There are qualities that I continue to hone to help equip me for further leadership opportunities. I remain curious, wanting to try new things and learn new skills. Both my curiosity and a desire to better myself means I am always aiming to push the envelope. While I am not sure what the next goal is as yet, I remain alert, always looking for an opportunity to try and stretch the boundaries and engage in new and improved ways of doing things.
Remaining motivated has helped me stay resilient. My parents were the first leaders I sought to emulate and who continue to be an inspiration. My siblings also inspire and challenge me. I have also been driven by seeing other people excel.
Being awarded accolades such as winning at the Black British Business Awards 2016 and more recently listed on the Powerlist 2019 (the list of the 100 most influential people of African and African Caribbean heritage in Britain) are other ways that I have found motivation – being around others who are achieving has spurred me on to achieve greater heights.
Samantha Tross is a Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon. She works at London North-West Healthcare NHS Trust and HCA Chiswick Outpatients and Diagnostic centre & Princess Grace Hospital. Her specialist interests are in Hip and Knee Replacement Surgery (primary and revision surgery), minimally-invasive hip surgery and robotic-assisted hip and knee surgery.