Dr. Natalie BrittNatalie Britt, M.D., FACS, vowed in medical school that she’d never become a surgeon. When she fell in love with the specialty during a third-year rotation, she purposely picked the worst surgical schedule during her fourth-year elective rotation to make surgery seem less appealing. It didn’t work.

Dr. Britt knew that she wanted to pursue medicine while in high school in Austin, Texas, and an internship that exposed her to hospital-based careers solidified her goal. Her intention was to specialize in pediatrics or critical care. What she thought she didn’t love about surgery was the lifestyle, but by the third day of her second surgical rotation, she was hooked.

“I just loved surgery,” Dr. Britt said of surgical rotations. “I loved being in the O.R. I loved the intense nature of it, the pace. I tell people that I became a surgeon against my better judgment.”

Now, she can’t imagine doing anything else. Dr. Britt has worked with Envision Physician Services for about five years, including roles in elective and trauma surgery — her true passion.

“Trauma surgery suits my personality,” she explained. “I do better in stressful situations. That’s where I feel most calm. It’s where I thrive.”

She admits that the hours can be long. There are difficult conversations with family members and days when the outcome for the patient isn’t what the trauma team had expected. But each day brings new challenges and new successes.

“As a surgeon, you have the opportunity to make an impact on peoples’ lives, whether you’re able to fix the issue or provide compassionate care to a patient while they adjust to the realities of their new situation,” she said.

She remembers when an amputee returned to the hospital during a trauma survivors’ event. The patient thanked Dr. Britt’s team for saving her life and said she’s able to continue to care for her children thanks to their lifesaving work.

“It’s so rewarding when you get a win. “Those cases make all of it worth it.”

Being a Woman in Medicine

For Dr. Britt, a newlywed, her gender is not a factor in her career.

“I don’t want the fact that I’m a woman to define me. I don’t want to be known as a female surgeon. I want to be known as a surgeon.”

While she knows some women have been discouraged from becoming physicians, her family supported her goals.

“My parents told me I could be anything I wanted to be, but I don’t think everyone is that lucky,” she said.

Dr. Britt’s advice for women thinking of pursuing a career in medicine: “Don’t create divisions where there don’t need to be any. Don’t put limits where you don’t need them. Don’t focus on being a female doctor; strive to be a good doctor.”

She encourages women in the field to surround themselves with other physicians who are excited about what they do to insulate themselves from the naysayers.

“If you have a passion for medicine, if you’re interested and excited about it, if you see value in the work and see that you can affect people’s lives and make your mark on the world through medicine, there’s nothing better.”