#122: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Gail Darling

February 3, 2022

In this episode—which does not disappoint—Dr. Tom Varghese interviews Dr. Gail Darling, head of surgery at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. Dr. Darling reveals an “ordinary upbringing,” growing up in Canada with an accountant dad and a stay-at-home mom. Interestingly, her 12th grade English teacher was the person who recommended that Dr. Darling think about medicine as a career; before that, she was going to study English. She went on to become the first person in her family to attend University. The original plan was family medicine, but during the surgery rotation, Dr. Darling realized there was more opportunity to “make a difference and make things happen” in surgery. She liked “the pace and the people—birds of a feather.” This “giant” in cardiothoracic surgery shares her perspectives and thoughts about overcoming challenges associated with shattering glass ceilings, constant changes in cardiothoracic surgery, and the need to adopt a growth mindset in the quest for excellence. In reflecting on her career so far, Dr. Darling offers some wise words and sage advice for listeners: “Never give in; Don’t be limited by what other people tell you; Think about what drives you, what motivates you, what gets you up in the morning; Don’t let anything stand in your way.”

“Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks.