Women Surgeons in the Military: Perspectives on Deployed Surgical Leadership

Pamela M. Choi*, Stephanie Streit, Katherine Wrenn-Maresh, Mary Stuever, Danielle B. Holt, Matthew D. Tadlock, Jennifer M. Gurney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: To review the history of women surgeons in the US military and juxtapose this history with five invited commentaries on deployed surgical leadership from women of various experiences, services, and ranks, to help prepare future trainees and those surgeons who have not yet deployed. Recent Findings: Throughout American history, women have played a significant role in serving the Armed Forces in both informal and formal roles including the Civil War and World War I, and World War II. The 1943 Sparkman-Johnson Act formally granted female physicians full appointments as reservists in the Army and Navy Medical Corps. It was not until 1972 that women physicians could receive a direct commission in the medical corps of the Armed Forces when Congress established the Health Professional Scholarship Program and authorized the creation of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Currently, women comprise approximately17% of the Armed Forces. Summary: Despite numerous challenges, military service, particularly during times of war, has provided opportunities for women in medicine and surgery to demonstrate various leadership qualities while caring for those who go into harm’s way. For those surgeons (women and men) who have not yet deployed, these five invited commentaries from women surgeons representing 75 years of collective active duty service provide several modern points of view on deployed surgical leadership.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Trauma Reports
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Female surgeon
  • Gender diversity
  • General surgery
  • Military medicine


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