“Always take care of yourself.”
The advice Anne Rosenberg, M.D. received from a colleague after she returned to work from her own surgery sticks with her to this day. In our Q&A, she explains how she’s known since second grade that she would be a surgeon, and how believing in herself helped her enter medicine and succeed in her career.
Q: How did your professional journey begin and what would you say was your defining professional moment?
A: Well, it seemed like just the way life was supposed to be. Wasn’t everyone a surgeon? Didn’t everyone operate on people and fix them? As a second grader, that is what I thought, and when people asked “What will you be when you grow up?”….. I simply answered “a surgeon.”
People chuckled, because back in the day, women were not supposed to be doctors and certainly not surgeons. So there I went along my way, through a small private Quaker school where freedom of thought was fostered along with a moral code of respect, integrity, tolerance and “never settling.” Then onto a small women’s college where again, there were no limits to what a woman could achieve. Our brains were nurtured and challenged. Things changed when I entered the male-dominated world of medicine, but as I knitted and needlepointed my way through lectures and soaked up all of the clinical experiences on the rotations, I evolved into a physician, caring and compassionate. I took those qualities with me through the five-year rigorous surgical residency and never let the “bastards get me down.” Twenty-seven years, and two grown sons later, I am a “Top Doc” in breast surgery, better prepared by the trials of the process, learning every day from my patients and the world around me. I was a renegade, persistent and determined.
Q: What are the characteristics that you believe defines a great company?
A: Great companies are not great just because of their financial success. They must also contribute to the community, set an example of integrity, creativity and hard work, and inspire the people who work there.
Q: What are your top 3 tips for a woman who is ready to make their next career move?
A: 1. Be confident. 2. Be humble. 3. You cannot advance without taking risks.
Q: What is the top piece of professional advice that you’ve received from a mentor and why do you think that advice still applies to today’s business environment?
A: My mentors mostly gave me that generic support and told me to stay the course. One piece of advice I vividly remember came from a surgical attending when I was a resident. I was scheduled to have surgery for an ovarian issue and was only worried about returning to work and fulfilling my responsibilities. He took me aside and reminded me to take care of myself, and remember that once I was back at work no one would have any consideration for the fact that I had just had surgery. So remember to ALWAYS TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!
Q: What is the one thing you make time for in your daily life that helps keeps you refreshed and positive?
A: My sons kept me focused on life’s priorities. My personal hobbies, horses, ballroom dancing, gardening, knitting—kept me balanced. It wasn’t easy but it was worth every minute!
Q: Can you name a leader for whom you have great respect and why?
A: Sandra Day O’Connor…. she is just amazing, and a real person!