Because of long hours and physical requirements, orthopedic surgery is a field that has long been dominated by men. But Sanford Health now has its first woman orthopedic surgeon.
"I have had patients who have said, 'You are the one doing my surgery?' I'll say, 'Yes.' I know what's going on in their head," Sanford Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Hillary Becker said.
Orthopedic surgeons are traditionally men. In fact, Becker is the first orthopedic surgeon at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls.
"Traditionally surgery has had long hours where people essentially live in the hospital. That's expected of them. They take a call every other night" Becker said.
Becker says in the past many women have been turned off by that because they don't feel like they can raise a family and put in the long hours at work. Becker has two children, herself. Her husband stays at home with the kids.
"He does stay home. I'm blessed to have a husband who is willing to do that," Becker said.
Another reason why more women are becoming orthopedic surgeons might be because of improvements in technology.
"Doing a hip or knee replacement can take some physical strength, but new advances and tools and techniques and gentler tissue handling allows for people of all sizes and shapes to be able to do them," Becker said.
Not only are women just as capable of being orthopedic surgeons, some patients, like Michele Swedlund, actually prefer having a female doctor.
"They can relate to me better. They probably do more of the same things I do," Swedlund said.
While not all patients opt for a female surgeon, Swedlund says it's at least nice to have a choice.
"Having a female was great. I actually kind of teased her a little bit when she told me she was the only one of being a member of the boy's club," Swedlund said.
Becker says the 12 male orthopedic surgeons at Sanford are all nice and helpful to her. But she believes more women will continue to have the title of orthopedic surgeon in the future.