Sharona Ross, MD, describes herself as “a 43 year old woman who wanted it all!” All included becoming a surgeon and having four children. Born and raised in Israel, she had to join the military immediately after high school. She says her military service prepared her well for her life today. “I learned to be independent, focused, organized and think outside the box. I learned how to lead people and developed problem-solving skills. All in all, my military service provided me with the necessary tools to build and shape my future.” So does Dr. Ross have it all? Read on.
What do you think is the secret to your family’s success?
I believe that communication, realistic expectations, and planning are key in any relationship. I met my husband Jack in Israel on the first weekend following my military service. We lived together for two years and decided to get married and build our lives together. From day one, I told him and his mother that I’m going to medical school to be a surgeon. I also told them that I don’t cook, clean or do laundry, setting the expectations from the beginning. During college, medical school and residency, I had my four children. Despite all odds, Jack and I managed to successfully complete both medical school and law school while having children.
The key to having a successful relationship with my children is centered on spending quality time with them. Weekends are dedicated to my kids. I spend time with each one of my kids individually. This allows me to appreciate them for their uniqueness and everything that is going on in their lives. Their ages’ span over 11 years so one-on-one time is especially important. Pursuing my dreams professionally does come at a price. Fortunately, technology has allowed me to experience some of my children’s highlights from afar. Having videos of a good shot during a sports game or a song at a music recital allowed me to stay involved, even if by proxy.
What is your biggest fear?
Growing old! I am fortunate enough to have achieved many of my life goals and, in a way, this makes me feel old. To circumvent this fear, it is essential to develop new goals and dreams to work toward.
What advice would you give to other women?
Pursue your dreams! Make them a reality. As Golda Meir once said, “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”
What is your proudest moment?
One of my proudest moments is when my eldest son got into college. He independently worked through each one of his applications and got accepted to all of the schools to which he applied. I couldn’t have been prouder as his mother.
What is your biggest achievement?
One of my greatest achievements was doing my first operation as an attending surgeon. This was the culmination of so much hard work: learning English as I worked toward my undergraduate degree, graduating top of my class in medical school and completing a surgical residency and two fellowships – all in all 15 years of training. The operation was an anti-reflux operation and I knew that I would be able to improve my patient’s quality of life. I remember celebrating this achievement with my family that same night. They too celebrated the work and the sacrifices that they had also gone through to help me get to that point.
What makes you happy?
A productive day at work! When I’m able to help a patient, I feel fulfilled. Surgery for me is a calling. Actually, when I go home after a productive day and hang out with kids, now that is the perfect day.
How do you relax and take time for yourself?
Between work and family, I don’t have much time for myself. I do try to work out every Sunday. I would like to relax with a weekly massage, riding my Harley or simply read a book but that rarely happens.
What else would you like to share with our readers? About being a mom, about your work?
Maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes a balanced, low-fat diet and exercise. Health is the most important investment you can make. I also think that it is important for other women to know that it is possible to achieve your personal goals and have a family. Being a surgeon was my goal from a very early age. I did everything in my power to be the best surgeon I could possibly be. This same passion carries over to my family. Having such veracity for both my family and job has helped me achieve a fulfilled life.
How do you enjoy or draw information from the magazine?
I have at times felt guilty for having such a demanding career with four kids at home. Seeing other people highlighted in your magazine who have the same demands in their lives has made me feel part of a community of hardworking parents.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids in the Tampa Bay area?
There are so many — play sports, visit museums, enjoy the theater and go to amusement parks. Clearly to achieve what I have, you must have a competitive nature. My children have this same competitive spirit. Family sport days always prove to be lots of fun!
Who is your biggest inspiration or role model?
My biggest inspiration is my patients. At my surgical practice, Southeastern Center for Digestive Disorders and Pancreatic Cancer, we see patients that have acid reflux, achalasia and cancers, mostly of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver and gallbladder. The fortitude that our patients have is truly inspirational. Often, as they are under my treatment, I get to know their families very well. Seeing families come together during this trying time helps me also appreciate my family.
One of my role models is my partner Alex Rosemurgy. His dedication, commitment and, most importantly, his excellence in the field of surgery are all qualities I strive to emulate. Unfortunately there are not many women within the field of surgery and, for this reason, I have created the International Women in Surgery Career Symposium. This year will be our fourth annual conference. Through this conference, I have met many other incredible women.
Learn more about the International Women in Surgery Career Symposium at www.women-in-surgery.com.