#127: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Jenna Romano

March 3, 2022

In this episode, Dr. Tom Varghese interviews Dr. Jenna Romano, from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan Health. Listeners will discover fascinating personal details about this surgeon leader, including that she considers herself a “lifer Midwesterner;” while in college, her plan was to become a veterinarian (thanks to Dr. Bob Bartlett, that plan changed); and she was the first in her family to “dip” her toe into the medical field. Throughout her unique, “rare as a unicorn” journey, Dr. Romano has overcome stigmas and changed paradigms, and she’s done this by confidently wearing her emotions on her sleeve. “I don’t hold back. If there’s something I believe could be different or better, I speak up—for better or for worse,” she shares. At the time of this episode recording, Dr. Romano had just been named Second Vice President for The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), putting her in line for the STS Presidency. She will be the first woman to hold this position. Still “trying to catch her breath” over the exhilaration surrounding the new role, Dr. Romano explains what went through her mind and the first thing she did after receiving the phone call inviting her to accept the position. And what about the future of cardiothoracic surgery? Dr. Romano says the specialty is “not going away,” but will need to be more flexible and dynamic in the years ahead. “Just think—when you see a more diverse picture going forward, how much more greatness we’re going to achieve.”

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