Balancing Act

Post by Alden M. Parsons, M.D. of Rex Thoracic Specialists.  Dr. Parsons is a published researcher and experienced surgeon. She is also a compassionate doctor who brings her expertise to patients at Rex Healthcare.


I understand now, having been in practice for a few years, that there’s a reason why there are only 200 female cardiothoracic surgeons in the United States. Balancing the demands and stress of a growing thoracic surgery practice with the needs and expectations as a mother, is not easy.

There is a reason that cardiothoracic surgery lags behind every other medical specialty in the percentage of women that have entered the field. The acuity of issues that need to be addressed on a daily basis can be quite stressful. On top of the juggling that’s required to manage a household with small children, it is clear why this is not a choice a lot of women make.

But I can honestly say: Life is full. The “balance,” as much as I am able to achieve it, is an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable place to be. In fact, without a doubt, this is one of the best times in my life.

In recognizing the importance of time and balance in everyone’s lives, our new MDC program hopes to do just that for cancer patients.  The Rex Thoracic Multidisciplinary Cancer program brings together specialized physicians all at once for one coordinated care program for the patient.  It allows me to be a part of somebody’s life at a critical point. Hopefully we can turn an experience that is potentially extremely painful and frightening into a process in which the patient feels extremely well cared for.  I hope our work can set an example for future generations of physicians, especially female surgeons.

We have been fortunate in the resources that Rex has provided to be able to provide the kind of care that any physician would enjoy being a part of; the kind of care in which the patient is truly the focus. The development of our team has put into place a group of people who happen to each have the distinctly perfect skills to really take our level of care to new heights.

Each team member adds a different layer to that success. Our PA, Ross Goldbaum, has 15+ years of experience in thoracic surgery and is a true partner in our care. Our nurse navigator, Bryant Washington, has worked at Rex for 20 years, has an amazing bedside manner, critical care skills needed for thoracic patients, and knows the Raleigh community like the back of his hand. These two are keys to our success with almost every patient.

The remainder of the MDC team is also pivotal. My partner, Rich Gillespie, brings expertise from Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, an extremely high volume minimally invasive and chest wall surgery center. Our MDC administrative team has been extremely detail-oriented in making sure patients get exactly what they need, and has skillfully tracked the data that we have needed to help our program expand. The expertise and backgrounds of each physician team member has afforded us the ability to provide services that the medical community in this area is continually surprised to find out that we can offer outside of an academic setting.

Hopefully, the future will create more opportunities for female cardiothoracic surgeons. In the meantime, I am fortunate to be able to be working every day to stay on the front end of that curve.