When School of Medicine graduating student Alessandra (Alex) Moore begins her surgery residency this June, she will represent the third generation of surgeons in her family—and she will be following both her father and grandfather’s footstep by training in the operating rooms of Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Moore said she didn’t feel pressured by her parents to pursue medicine, even though her grandfather Francis D. Moore, who has passed away, was a former chief of surgery at the Brigham, and her father, Francis D. Moore Jr., is currently the Brigham’s chief of general surgery. Even her mother is a CT (computerized tomography) technician.
“Both of my parents love their jobs, and that did affect my career decisions. I wanted to love what I did for a living. And I wanted to help people,” said Moore. “My parents have always tried not to influence what we wanted to do in our lives. But on Match Day, my dad was very happy.”
Growing up on a farm in Medfield, Mass., she was the only one of the six children in her family to show an interest in medicine, mostly when helping out with the many minor medical issues with all the animals on their farm. She said of her siblings, “the rest of them are actually kind of squeamish.”
Moore said she has a warm relationship with her father, which will be important because he will be very involved in her training. When investigating where she might train as a resident, she did consider the challenges of working with a family member. She even consulted with 2011 UMMS alumnus Eddy Arous, MD, who trains at UMass Memorial with his father, Elias Arous, MD, professor of surgery.
“I loved all the residency programs I visited, but at the end of the day, Brigham & Women’s was where I fit best. It was a unique opportunity and it will be valuable in a very personal way,” she said. “You learn from your father in a very different way.”
She’s not too concerned about living up to her father’s and grandfather’s formidable reputations at the Brigham. “They showed me what I’m capable of, but I feel like I’m a very different person.” The most obvious difference is that she is a woman in a profession historically dominated by men, but she said the landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. The residency programs she investigated are now at least 50 percent female, and there are many more female surgeons than ever in the profession.
Moore said she also had many great female role models at UMMS, including Anne Larkin, MD, associate professor of surgery, Laura Lambert, MD, assistant professor of surgery, and her Learning Community mentor Jennifer Bram, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics.
She is looking forward to starting her new adventure, after a trip to Japan to visit her youngest brother who is in the U.S. Navy.
“I’m excited and nervous,” she said. “I’m very happy to be a surgeon, but there’s lots of responsibility. This place has been great about increasing our responsibility gradually to prepare us. But suddenly your signature means something.”