UK HealthCare

'Behind the Blue': Surgical oncologist Emily Marcinkowski on women in health care

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 27, 2023) — As a young child, Emily Marcinkowski, M.D., spent a lot of time in the hospital, but not as a patient. Her mother, a single parent, worked as an operating room scrub nurse, which led to Marcinkowski spending a fair amount of time in the OR and offices during her mother’s shifts.

It was that exposure to medicine and surgery that inspired her to become a surgeon herself. In a field of health care that is largely dominated by men. Marcinkowski says it never occurred to her to not be a surgeon simply because she is female.

Today, Marcinkowski is a surgical oncologist at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, specializing in breast cancer, soft-tissue sarcomas and skin cancers. She says she likes surgery because of the closer relationships that surgeons have with their patients, and how that is of specific benefit in regards to working with breast cancer patients, who are often concerned with how their diagnosis and treatment affects their sexuality and self-identification.

Marcinkowski also teaches classes as an associate professor in the UK College of Medicine, where she strives to pass on her enthusiasm for her work to a new generation, along with the importance of students having the mindset of investing in themselves.

On this episode of "Behind the Blue," Marcinkowski talks about her drive to be a problem-solver, how surgery presents her with tangible problems she can act upon, the importance of greater diversity and patient-based inclusivity in the medical field, and more.

"Behind the Blue" is available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Spotify. Become a subscriber to receive new episodes of “Behind the Blue” each week. UK’s latest medical breakthroughs, research, artists and writers will be featured, along with the most important news impacting the university.

For questions or comments about this or any other episode of "Behind the Blue," email or tweet your question with #BehindTheBlue. Transcripts for this or other episodes of "Behind the Blue" can be downloaded from the show’s blog page.

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