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Ysbyty Gwynedd doctor inspiring the next generation of female surgeons

A doctor at Ysbyty Gwynedd is inspiring young women to become the next generation of surgeons.

Mrs Faiza Ali, who is an Ear Nose & Throat (ENT) Speciality Doctor at Ysbyty Gwynedd, has been visiting schools in the region to encourage students to consider a career within surgery.

Mrs Ali, who joined Ysbyty Gwynedd’s ENT department in 2015 as a Junior Doctor and later became a Speciality Doctor in 2018, is participating in the ’30 schools for 30 years of women in surgery’ initiative led by the Women in Surgery forum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS). The initiative aims to increase awareness amongst school students around careers within surgery.

“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Women in Surgery initiative at the RCS and it’s a real privilege to be visiting schools in Gwynedd and Anglesey to provide these educational talks for students.

“Not only are the talks aiming to increase awareness around careers available in surgery it is also to challenge perceptions of who can become a surgeon.

“I chose surgery as I like the intellectual challenges it brings and the quick results we get. There is nothing more rewarding than performing an operation and seeing a patient’s life improve almost immediately the majority of the time, this is extremely satisfying and unique in medicine.

“However, I think at every step of my journey I was told by different people everywhere that I should choose a lighter job being a mother and wife and that surgery would be too much for me.

“Only recently I went to see a patient just before her operation and I was asked when the surgeon would arrive, to which I replied that I was the surgeon.

“This came as a surprise to this patient as I believe people still have a perception that the majority of surgeons are men. This is something I want to change and I’m very passionate about promoting positive female role models in the field and also encouraging other younger women to pursue this career,” said Mrs Ali.

Her recent talks at Ysgol David Hughes in Menai Bridge and Ysgol Friars in Bangor have been a resounding success with positive feedback received from the young students.

Ysgol Friars' Headteacher Neil Foden said: "Dr Ali's visit to Ysgol Friars allowed our students to learn more about a potential career in surgery. We believe that this important initiative by the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the NHS helped increase our students’ knowledge and understanding of a potential career in the NHS/healthcare industry as well as access to surgical careers. The talk provided an insight for our students into this potential career path, and we hope to avail ourselves of the opportunity to host again in the future.

“We have strong links with Ysbyty Gwynedd with parents of many of our students' parents working there.

“The Covid pandemic has shown how important the NHS is to this country and we were pleased to host an opportunity for our students to learn more about careers in surgery which will be rewarding for them and invaluable to society."

The ratio of male to female consultant surgeons in the UK is approximately 8:1 and Mrs Ali, who is also a mother of three children, is supporting the Women in Surgery’s mission to change that.

She added: “My message to the young women who want to pursue a career in surgery is that if you have a dream to pursue a career in surgery then just go for it and never give up.

“You should always believe in yourself and nothing should stop you, failures may come your way at some point but learn from them and start again.”