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Dr. Susan Veronica Karol





Year of Birth / Death

b. 1957


Medical School

Medical College of Wisconsin


Geography

LOCATION
Massachusetts


Career Path

Surgery
Dr. Susan Veronica Karol



Milestones

YEAR
1988
ACHIEVEMENT
Dr. Susan Karol was first woman of the Tuscarora Indian Nation to become a surgeon.
YEAR
1996
ACHIEVEMENT
Dr. Susan Karol was the first woman to be made chief of surgery at Beverly Hospital in Beverly, Massachusetts.


Inspiration

I was fortunate to have two women cousins, Dr. Janice Schmidt and Dr. Karen Deasey, who served as my mentors during my college years. Their medical school experiences at the time I was in college and their enthusiasm for medicine fueled my interest to become a doctor. With their encouragement, I applied to and ultimately attended the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.



Biography

Dr. Susan Karol is the first woman of the Tuscarora Indian Nation of Sanborn to become a surgeon, and the first woman to become Chief of Surgery at Beverly Hospital in Beverly, Massachusetts. She considers her career in medicine a lifelong learning experience and strives to bring compassion as well as skill to her surgical practice.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Dr. Karol has spent her career to date as a general surgeon helping patients as far west as the Navajo nation in Shiprock, New Mexico. She served as chief of surgery and anesthesia at the Shiprock Indian Hospital from 1988 to 1990. She then returned to Massachusetts, where she is currently chief of surgery at Beverly Hospital in a small town on the coast of northeastern Massachusetts.

Dr. Karol credits her medical career to her mother, Minerva Karol, "whose kind manner, empathetic ear, and ability to be non-judgmental" made her "my greatest mentor," and to her cousins, Dr. Janice Schmidt and Dr. Karen Deasey, "who served as my mentors during my college years. Their medical school experiences at the time I was in college [at Dartmouth], and their enthusiasm for medicine, fueled my interest in becoming a doctor."

Dr. Karol divides her time between a wide variety of professional responsibilities and family life. She and husband, William Stinson, a vitreo-retinal surgeon, have a 5-year old daughter, Laura, and work hard to balance their careers with parenthood. She was chief of surgery at Beverly Hospital from 1996 to 2002, has been a partner in Beverly Surgical Associates and medical director of the Hunt Breast Center in Danvers, Massachusetts, both since 1991. She has also been a consultant to Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Massachusetts, since 1992. She has also been an assistant medical director of specialty care and member of the board of directors, New England Community Medical Group, Inc., since 1996 and has been medical director of Stroke Prevention of New England since 2000. Dr. Karol is on the staff of Beverly Hospital and Hunt Hospital, and has been associate staff of the North Shore Medical Center, since 2000. She has also been a trustee of Northeast Health Systems, Incorporated, at Beverly Hospital, since 2001.

Dr. Karol says she was fortunate in not meeting any real obstacles to becoming a doctor, although her residency experience at the Medical College of Wisconsin was thoroughly rigorous and demanding. "I knew that if I worked my hardest, I would become a competent and caring surgeon." She continues to give her all to her career, and is immersed in the professional life of her community. She is a member of the Association of American Indian Physicians, the American Society of Breast Surgeons, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and a member of the American College of Physician Executives.



Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

I was fortunate, in that I did not meet any obstacles in becoming a doctor. I worked hard, studied hard, obtained a scholarship from the (U. S.) Public Health Service and thoroughly enjoyed my medical school experience. Though a general surgical residency at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester, MA, was rigorous and demanding of my time, I knew that if I worked my hardest, I would become a competent and caring surgeon.

How do I make a difference?

As a general surgeon, I make a difference in my patient's lives daily. My practice spans the gamut from surgical oncology and GI surgery to major trauma care. As a wife, I support my husband, Dr. William Stinson, who is a busy vitreo-retinal surgeon. As a mother, I look forward to teaching and playing with my five-year-old daughter, Laura.

Who was my mentor?

Beyond my cousins (Dr. Janice Schmidt and Dr. Karen Deasey), my greatest mentor has been my mother, Minerva Karol. Her kind manner, empathetic ear, and ability to be non-judgmental, has guided me through my early years and helped me become who I am today. Through my surgical training, I have had many gracious and generous physicians who took the time to teach and train me to be the surgeon I am today. Those doctors range from the residents with whom I trained, to those physicians with whom I work today—notably my one-time collaborator in the Indian Health Service at Shiprock, New Mexico, Dr. Don Rude. Being a doctor is a never-ending learning experience.

How has my career evolved over time?

Over the course ofapproximately fifteen years, my career has developed from a general surgeon on the Navajo reservation to the chief of surgery at Beverly Hospital in Beverly, MA. I have had the opportunity to perfect my surgical and clinical skills, develop my administrative talents, and help my patients cope and deal with their illnesses. I have been very fortunate.



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