“You Can’t Do That!” Cardiothoracic Surgeon tells All

Michele Bowles

On March 24 in Kreider Hall, Amy Hackmann, cardiothoracic surgeon at the University of Southern California, gave a public lecture that talked about how being a women made her obstacles to achieving her dreams even harder. “You can’t do that; you’re a girl,” is something Hackmann heard frequently while growing up with her dream to become a doctor.

Hackmann started medical school right out of high school. Even when she was in high school she never had a summer off, taking summer classes to reach her goals. She was a resident physician at the University of South Florida, the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.

“Since I was three years old, I have always wanted to be a surgeon,” Hackmann said.
Her dream began when she was three years old and broke her leg. She was amazed that someone could actually perform surgery on another person. From then on her parents were very supportive of her dream. They bought her many children’s books with doctor themes. They also bought her the game Operation.

Although her parents were supportive not everyone is her life was. Hackmann recalled numerous incidences when people tried to tell her that she could not accomplish her goals in life. She realized early in life that she was going to be discriminated for being a woman for the rest of her life.

People all around her were constantly reminding her how hard it would be to succeed in the medical field being a woman. These people included, her eighth grade teacher, a wife of a doctor, her patients. She was strong and determined through school and never let the things people said get inside of her head.

“Those unfair things that people said and did to me, made me who I am today,” Hackmann said.
Hackmann would like woman to stop letting people tell them what they can and cannot do. She says that if women find something that motivates them, they should pursue it. If they learn from the past, make sacrifices and have perseverance then they can break the barriers of inequality in the medical field.

“When you’re women, you can’t be just as good, you must be better,” she said.

Hackmann says that in the hospital people are constantly referring to her as a nurse. She said she almost finds it comical that people still assume because she is a women that she must be a nurse if she is in a hospital.

“There will always be people who will tell you that you can’t succeed. It’s up to you to prove them wrong,” she said.

Hackmann gave this lecture in honor of Women’s History month. A poetry reading in Kreider Hall on March 31 will end March’s Women’s History Month. The presentation will be held by Sandi Sheffey and Deborah Kinley.