Nov 9 • 23M

The First Female… Everything. A Surgeon’s Story

The New Q3: Dr Pat Roberts, Stanford DCI Fellow '22

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Appears in this episode

Avivah Wittenberg-Cox
You are likely to live longer than you think. Are you ready? Science has gifted us ever longer, 100-year lives. This impacts… everything! From couples and careers - to companies and countries. We’ll interview the experts who are exploring the consequences – and the individuals applying it to their own lives and choices. Generational and gender expert Avivah Wittenberg-Cox talks with people designing new ways of living, working and loving at all ages – across life’s 4 quarters.
Episode details

‘Look Like a Lady, Sound Like a Truck Driver’

Surgeon Dr Pat Roberts joins Avivah Wittenberg-Cox for this episode of 4-Quarter Lives. Pat had such an impressive first career, that deciding what to do afterwards was always going to be a challenge. She knew she wanted to be a surgeon from the age of five – and was one of the rare women of her generation to make it – not just through but all the way to the top of her profession. She credits competition with her three brothers, and sheer determination, and the ability to ‘look like a lady but sound like a truck driver.’ In all the ills of the macho workplace, she learned to give as good as she got. And managed to have three kids in three years in her late 30s to round it out.

An Illustrious Career

Across her 35-year career as a surgeon, she rose to be the first female Chair of the Department of Surgery at the Lahey Hospital at Tufts University, where her husband also worked. She always knew she wanted a second act but was always too busy with her first to think what it could be. She went to Stanford’s Distinguished Careers Institute programme to start exploring, and discovered a completely new side to herself. She admits she is still exploring, but along the way, through teaching and mentoring, she is already making a transition that gives both value and personal satisfaction.

For Stanford’s Distinguished Careers Institute: