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Melissa I. Chang, MD, MSE, FACS, FASCRS
Dr. Melissa Chang was born and raised in a small suburban community of East Los Angeles, CA. She eventually moved to the East Coast to attend Johns Hopkins University, where she earned her undergraduate bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering and a Master of Science in chemical and molecular engineering. She then went on to attend Tufts University in Boston, MA, for medical school and completed her General Surgery training at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, NY, during which she also spent 2 years as a research fellow at Boston Children's Hospital, with plans to become a Pediatric Surgeon. Things changed, and she completed her Colon and Rectal Surgery Fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. As she tells it, “In trying to ‘figure it out,’ I made my way to Boston for medical school where I first fell in love with Colorectal Surgery during my surgical clerkship at the Lahey Clinic; during my research years where I returned to Boston is where I met my husband (Morris, a lifelong Bostonian); and meeting one of my future partners at a fellows' robotics course is how I ended up in Michigan.”
Melissa is a doer. She is clinically busy, actively involved on multiple committees nationally, and has several publications in peer-reviewed journals. This is no surprise to anyone who knows her. When asked about the origins of this drive and how it translates to present-day success, she notes: “As children of first-generation immigrants of Taiwan, my brother and I were destined to fulfill the Asian-American dream of becoming a lawyer and doctor. My brother is a lawyer. No one in my family had been a lawyer and doctor and we received little guidance in how to do it, except for ‘keep your head down and work hard.’ I remember Googling one day in training: what am I going to do with my life? My experiences have led to my interests in robotic surgery and surgical technology, education, and gender equity in surgery. By sheer determination, grit, and a lot of luck, I am here now. I would say that much of my life has worked out this way: I wasn't really sure how to get there, sometimes I wasn't sure what I was doing, however, I met accomplished, kind, and patient individuals along the way who have shepherded and supported my journey. I still haven't completely figured out what I'm going to do (or how). However, I have increased courage and commitment after the birth of my daughters (Eva and Eleanor) to make this world a better place for them and our future. And I know I will get there, like everything else, bit by bit, step by step.”
On a personal note, it has been wonderful to watch her evolution since I met her when she was a Colorectal Surgery fellow at Mayo Clinic into a leader in our field over such a brief period. This volume is filled with grit, honesty, struggles, and success. I learned a lot throughout each of the articles, and the authors truly made me re-evaluate many aspects. I am hoping you will similarly glean their respective passion for medicine and the additional barriers and considerations our women surgeons need to face while you are reading this volume. More importantly, I hope we can collectively work together to change the future.
On behalf of the readers and staff of Clinics of Colon and Rectal Surgery, I sincerely thank Dr. Chang for serving as a Guest Editor and for providing us with a superb and thought-provoking issue on Women in Colon and Rectal Surgery.
Article published online:
27 February 2023
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