To mark International Women’s Day 2023, Dr Sheela Rao of The Royal Marsden discusses the women who have inspired her most during her career, valuable advice and the main challenges facing women in healthcare today.
Dr Rao is a Consultant Medical Oncologist specialising in gastrointestinal cancers and has a clinic at The Royal Marsden Private Care at Cavendish Square.
What advice would you give to women thinking about a career in healthcare?
Healthcare is an evolving field with so many interesting, challenging and rewarding career options, so find an area you are truly passionate about as this focus will help you to develop your career. Do not be afraid to approach seniors and mentors early on and express your interests and goals, this is
your career after all, so it’s important to get as much advice as possible.
As a woman, what are the biggest challenges you have faced along the way?
The biggest challenge for me was addressing my work-life balance and having three children, it was a constant juggle but nevertheless very achievable. When I first started working, there were fewer
women in senior or leadership positions who could help me to navigate my career pathway, thankfully there are so many more now and therefore there are many tried and tested routes to finding the best work life balance for you.
Who are the women who have inspired you the most during your career?
There have been many women in medicine who have inspired me along the way. One of these people was my first consultant when I was working as a house officer early on in my career, she was a steely determined colorectal surgeon in a male dominated arena, who not only garnered so much
respect from all her peers but was so kind and encouraging to me. Since then, I have been very fortunate to work with many inspiring women here and around the world.
What is you International Women’s Day message?
We must continue to raise awareness of gender inequality and bias and strive to improve on this year on year. We can only do this by standing together collectively as women and supporting and learning from one another.