North Coun­try Sur­gi­cal As­so­ci­ates Wel­comes Vir­ginia Mcdougall

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Nancy Gunn, Spe­cial col­lab­o­ra­tion New­port, VT

The work of a sur­geon is one of skill and pre­ci­sion. Steady hands can mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death. North Coun­try Sur­gi­cal As­so­ci­ates in New­port wel­comes their new­est sur­geon to their team, Vir­ginia McDougall M.D.Dr. McDougall ar­rived at the prac­tice in April, join­ing sur­geons Larry Sis­son and Mark Meredith. She brings with her an ex­ten­sive med­i­cal back­ground. “Dr. McDougall has set­tled in and is keep­ing busy,” Linda Quarmby said. “The community has been very re­cep­tive and we the staff en­joy work­ing with her. Dr. Sis­son and Dr. Meredith are very happy to have her here shar­ing the work load in our very busy sur­gi­cal prac­tice.” Linda is the prac­tice man­ager for North Coun­try Sur­gi­cal As­so­ci­ates. The New Orleans, Louisiana na­tive’s jour­ney to be­com­ing a sur­geon is an in­spir­ing one, one that meant hard work and per­se­ver­ance, as well as bat­tling a sys­tem which of­ten dis­cour­aged women from be­com­ing doc­tors, to say noth­ing of as­pir­ing to be­come a sur­geon. The child of a work­ing class fam­ily, she learned what hard, hon­est work was all about at a young age. Her fa­ther was in the meat busi­ness in ad­di­tion to jug­gling other part-time jobs. Her mother was a sec­re­tary. Dr. McDougall was the first per­son in her fam­ily, in­clud­ing among her first cousins, to grad­u­ate from col­lege. She is quick to note she is proud of her roots and has never tried to hide who she is be­hind her mul­ti­ple de­grees. And she has great re­spect for peo­ple who la­bor with their hands. “My brother used to joke, ‘we didn’t have a lot of money, but we al­ways had a good cut of meat on the ta­ble,” Dr. McDougall said. The chil­dren also had very sup­port­ive par­ents.Dur­ing high school, she de­cided

to at­tend Louisiana State Univer­sity School of Medicine (LSU) to be­come a nurse. How­ever af­ter a year of col­lege, she told her ad­vi­sor she had sec­ond thoughts, and re­al­ized she wanted to be­come a doc­tor. Fe­male physi­cians weren’t un­heard of at the time, but nei­ther were they as com­mon as they are to­day. “Ev­ery­one ba­si­cally pat­ted me on the head and told me to go be a nurse,” Dr. McDougall said, em­pha­siz­ing she ad­mires the hard work and ded­i­ca­tion of nurses. She fol­lowed their ad­vice and went on to earn a Bach­e­lor De­gree in Nurs­ing, then went on to be­come a pe­di­atric nurse and a nurs­ing in­struc­tor. Even­tu­ally she earned a Mas­ter’s De­gree in Nurs­ing from the same univer­sity. Al­though she found both jobs re­ward­ing, she still yearned to be­come a doc­tor. She cred­its her best friend from high school for con­vinc­ing her to pur­sue her dream, at least in a round-about way. The friend who de­cided to fol­low her dream and re­turn to col­lege to be­come a lawyer, tried to con­vince her to be­come a lawyer.“I told her ‘but I don’t want to be a lawyer,’” she said. “I told her ‘I want to be a doc­tor.’”Watch­ing her friend set off to pur­sue her dream con­vinced Dr. McDougall to ful­fill her own. She again ap­plied to LSU, this time to be­come a doc­tor. She was 34 years old and was ac­cepted when she was 35. Her plans were to be­come a pe­di­atric car­di­ol­o­gist, but while per­form­ing rounds in var­i­ous hospi­tal de­part­ments, she be­came fas­ci­nated with surgery. She earned her doc­tor­ate’s de­gree in 1994, and went on to per­form her res­i­dency in Gen­eral Surgery at LSU.

“I was 44 when I fin­ished my res­i­dency at LSU, the same school that shot me down at age 21,” she said proudly. “I couldn’t have done it with­out my fam­ily, in­clud­ing my for­mer hus­band.”With­out a doubt Dr. McDougall is a mi­nor­ity as a sur­geon. Only 10-12% of gen­eral sur­geons in the United States are women. How­ever, she said dis­crim­i­na­tion has never been a ma­jor is­sue for her from col­leagues or pa­tients. She is hum­ble yet proud of the rep­u­ta­tion she has earned in the oper­at­ing room and with her pa­tients.“One thing pa­tients con­sis­tently tell me is I’m a doc­tor whom they un­der­stand,” she said, not­ing she doesn’t talk in med­i­cal lingo which of­ten con­fuses pa­tients. “I think that is im­por­tant.”In an ear­lier chap­ter of her life, Dr. McDougall was a self-pro­claimed adrenalin junky. She en­joyed the chal­lenge of try­ing to save the lives of peo­ple in crime-rid­den sec­tions of New Orleans, with some pa­tients suf­fer­ing from mul­ti­ple gun­shot wounds.Fast for­ward in time, her pas­sion is still found in the oper­at­ing room sav­ing lives; how­ever, she no longer needs the adrenalin rush she once found in the south. She is ready to set­tle to a more re­laxed pace. When she vis­ited North Coun­try, she said she knew the hospi­tal was just what she was look­ing for. The mother of two grown chil­dren, with a daugh­ter in Louisiana, and a son in Maine (his girl­friend is a sur­gi­cal res­i­dent at Maine Med­i­cal Cen­ter), said she has re­ceived over­whelm­ing sup­port from her col­leagues at North Coun­try Sur­gi­cal As­so­ci­ates, throughout the hospi­tal, as well as from the pa­tients. “My re­cep­tion here has been un­be­liev­able,” Dr. McDougall said. “Ev­ery­one has not only been wel­com­ing but peo­ple from the hospi­tal as well as oth­ers in the community have all of­fered help in one way or an­other…so very re­fresh­ing.”

Wel­come to North Coun­try Dr. McDougall!

Photo cour­tesy

Vir­ginia McDougall, gen­eral sur­geon, joins North Coun­try

Hospi­tal Med­i­cal Staff.

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