Women In Robotic Surgery: Importance Of Upskilling Women Surgeons

Research has shown that female surgeons are associated with lower mortality rates, fewer complications, and shorter hospital stays than male surgeons. Hence, increasing the number of women in surgery can improve patient outcomes

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the need for more women in surgery. Despite the increasing number of women in medicine, surgery remains a predominantly male-dominated field. This lack of diversity has significant implications, both for patients and for the profession as a whole.

Research has shown that female surgeons are associated with lower mortality rates, fewer complications, and shorter hospital stays than male surgeons. Hence, increasing the number of women in surgery can improve patient outcomes. This is believed to be due to a range of factors, including better communication skills, greater attention to detail, and more patient-centered care.

In my experience and as the Founder President of the Association of Gynecological Robotic Surgeons of India (AGRS), healthcare is evolving rapidly with the advent of technological advancements, and the demand for surgeons skilled in robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) is increasing. As a gynaecologist, I started my journey with minimal access surgery 25 years ago initially with laparoscopy and then Robotics since 2012.

Being persistent in learning new technical skills, I have personally witnessed the importance of upskilling to RAS and how, by doing so, female surgeons can enhance their career opportunities and be at the forefront by adopting the advancements in surgical technology. Since my exposure to da Vinci-RAS technology for the last one decade, my skillset as a surgeon has expanded, enabling me to treat larger number of patients with complex gynecological problems and allowing me to give them better clinical outcomes. 

In addition, upskilling in robotic-assisted surgery can also help close the gender gap in the male dominated field of surgery. Mastering RAS by young women medical graduates can help them break the glass ceiling and close on the gender gap so clearly visible in surgical specialty and become successful surgeons. Today, as the Clinical Lead for Gynecological Robotic Surgery across the Apollo group of Hospitals, transferring skills to younger gynecologists and helping them set up their journey with da Vinci RAS is a responsibility I take seriously.

This March we take this opportunity to reflect on the stellar progress made by women in the acceptance and usage of surgical technology. One of the most advanced surgical technology available in India today, is the robotic-assisted surgical (RAS) system. Here are a few women surgeons from across India who have excelled in the use of advanced medical technology like RAS and contributed significantly as women surgeons in India, and thereby advancing the Indian healthcare ecosystem.

Dr. Kanika Batra – Senior Consultant, Gynaecologic Oncology, Max Healthcare

Robotic-assisted surgery has the potential to revolutionize the way surgeries are performed in India. However, the underrepresentation of female surgeons in this field poses a significant barrier to the adoption of this technology. Upskilling myself has impacted my practice in a significant way and I have honed my passion for RAS over the years. Empowering female surgeons with the skills and knowledge of robotic-assisted surgery is not just a matter of gender equality; it is a necessity to ensure that all patients in India have access to the latest and most advanced surgical techniques. By investing in training and

familiarization programs on advanced technologies such as the da Vinci platform for female surgeons, we can create a more diverse and inclusive healthcare system that delivers better outcomes for all. There are multiple avenues where women are rising to the forefront and the adoption of technologies like RAS should not be left behind.

Dr. Gayathri Deshpande – Senior Consultant - Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Nanavati Max Super Specialty Hospital

With technology seeping into our everyday lives, it is no surprise that the healthcare industry is at the forefront of evolution through robotics. As demand for surgeons skilled in robotic-assisted surgery continues to increase, upskilling in this technology can enhance the career opportunities for female surgeons. 

By gaining expertise in this innovative surgical technique, female surgeons can stay at the forefront of advancements in surgical technology and play a critical role in shaping the future of the healthcare industry. Gender diversity and representation in the healthcare industry, particularly in the surgical field, have been a long-standing issue.

 Women are significantly underrepresented in surgery, with only about 25 per cent of practicing surgeons being female. The reasons for this could be factors such as lack of access to training and mentorship opportunities, and work-life balance challenges. 

I believe that it is our responsibility as surgeons to invest in upskilling ourselves with knowledge and practice on RAS, with platforms such as da Vinci, allowing the surgeons to provide dedicated assistance and quality care to patients that come into their centers. 

By promoting greater gender diversity in the surgical field, we can help to address the implicit biases and barriers that have historically limited opportunities for women in this field.

Dr. Seema Wadhwa – Associate Director, Obstetrics And Gynaecology, Robotic Surgery, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Mohali

Surgical technology is evolving at a rapid pace, with robotic-assisted surgical systems emerging as a promising area of innovation. As the healthcare industry continues to embrace these technological advancements, it is essential for surgeons to remain up-to-date with the latest developments in surgical technology.

As the National Faculty of Ethicon Institute of Scientific Education (EISE), I am actively involved in training doctors in Advanced Laparoscopy and conducting Live Operative Surgical Workshops. Through my experience I believe that by upskilling to robotic-assisted surgery, female surgeons can stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive in a rapidly evolving industry. 

My practice with the da Vinci systems made me realise that robotic-assisted surgery is an innovative technology that is becoming increasingly common in surgical procedures. With Artificial Intelligence coming into picture, Robotic Assisted Surgeries will be a breakthrough in Surgical procedures. As an expert and in my 23 years of Gynecology practice, I believe that these 3 surgeries benefit the most with the precision of Robotics and are even better than Laparoscopy as of today.

1. Fibroid removal and repair of the uterus for Infertility patients

2. Advanced Endometriosis

3. Gynae cancer surgery

With the ability to treat a larger number of patients and provide a higher degree of quality care, RAS is now a highly sought-after skillset in the surgical field.

Dr. Swapna Misra – Director, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Fortis Hospital, Mohali

Upskilling to robotic-assisted surgery can help to break down the barriers that have limited women's opportunities in surgery. As one of the first female doctors to perform a large amount of robotic surgeries in Punjab using the Da Vinci Surgical System, I believe that medicine is a field which requires dedication

and perseverance. Female surgeons can demonstrate their proficiency and showcase their expertise, potentially leading to career advancement and greater recognition within their field. Additionally, by increasing the representation of women in surgical fields, we can create a more inclusive and diverse healthcare industry. 

The more female surgeons focus on upskilling, the larger their reach of treatment and better the impact on the disease burden of the country. There are multiple apprehensions in this new domain, however, we must keep abreast with novel technologies like these.

In conclusion, there is a clear need for more women in surgery. Increasing diversity and inclusivity in surgical specialties can lead to better patient outcomes, drive innovation and collaboration, and help to address the gender gap that exists in medicine. 

The mind set of all needs to change to achieve this. The hospital management, male colleagues, patient and public perception and above all we need young women medical graduates to believe in themselves the they can excel in all fields including surgery. This can bring the best and brightest minds to work together in advancing the field of surgery.


Around The World