Leading the Way

From the Fall 2019 edition of Vanderbilt Medicine Magazine

The 20 residents in the Department of Neurosurgery are in good hands, under the guidance of residency program director, Lola Chambless, MD’05, HS’12, associate professor of Neurosurgery.

In 2012, Chambless became the first female faculty member in the department and the first female neurosurgery attending physician in Nashville.

“I knew that Vanderbilt was a place that treated female staff the same way they treat male staff, and I think it is important that residents have a female role model,” she said at the time.

Chambless came to Vanderbilt School of Medicine as a Canby Robinson Society Scholar, the recipient of a full-tuition scholarship for four years. She stayed for her neurosurgery residency and then completed a specialized fellowship in minimally invasive/endoscopic surgery for brain tumors at the Centre for Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery in Sydney, Australia. Her clinical interests are in all aspects of intracranial neurosurgery for the treatment of benign and malignant brain tumors, with a special focus on minimally invasive endoscopic techniques. She is also on the board of the Congress of Neurological Surgery (CNS) and chairs the CNS Leadership Institute.

The mother of two daughters, Harper, 7, and Sims, 5, Chambless has written about the need for balance within the demands of neurosurgery, particularly as it relates to childbearing. She encourages female residents to seek mentors and explore options when planning for a family.

“Recognize that every pregnancy is different. When you seek advice from mentors or support from friends, remember that you will need to be flexible in this process. Becoming a mother is a major identity shift, especially for women who have chosen to spend their professional lives in a male-dominated world. Allow yourself to grow into that new dual identity and accept that your needs may change in unpredictable ways,” she wrote in an article for AANS Neurosurgeon.

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