Doctor paves way for black women

February 21, 2011 2:39:49 PM PST
Dr. Carla Pugh is an engineer and a doctor at Northwestern Medical Hospital, where she trains medical students for sensitive exams with her patented technology.

As assistant professor of surgery and director for advance surgical education, Dr. Pugh teaches med students how to do exams on the body's most private and sensitive areas.

"It is actually a lot of fun to be able to think of an idea, get a group of educators and people to work with you to develop advanced simulated technology that can help you achieve your learning goals," Dr. Pugh said.

In the simulation, Dr. Pugh created a number of breast tumors that the students then have to identify and treat.

"There is no limit to the size of breast cancers to the texture, to the cystic diseases, whether it is a firm mass, so we try to simulate every single patient possible," Dr. Pugh said.

"Dr. Pugh brings a unique combination of clinical acumen, engineering expertise and educational passion to the training of medical students and residents here at Northwestern University," William McGaghie, PhD, said.

Dr. Pugh is one of fewer than 300 black female surgeons in the United States.

"Finding a mentor or inspiration has not been an issue but it does make a difference if you see a female, for example, who has reached the top. It is exciting and you want to talk to that person and find out how they did it, and so I realized that I have an opportunity to provide some of that inspiration for other people," said Dr. Pugh.

Dr. Pugh says she still has a lot of work to do in the medical field to make it easier for budding surgeons to understand how to treat patients. She came up with the idea of using technology while working on a doctorate in education at Stanford University and obtained a patent for sensors and data accumulation technology in 2001.