Women In Trauma collageThe UAB Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery celebrates Women in Medicine month by highlighting women in UAB's trauma, burn, and wound care services.

The American Medical Association’s recognizes Women in Medicine Month in September. The awareness month was created to recognize the growing number of women in the profession.

“We're proud of the many exceptional women in our trauma service," said Jeffrey Kerby, M.D., Ph.D., FACS, director of the Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. "The women selected for this series exemplify excellence in their different roles and units. Without their commitment to our high standards of patient care, our trauma system would not be as strong as it is.”

UAB Hospital was recently re-verified as the only American College of Surgeons Level I Trauma Center in the state of Alabama.

Below, meet eight women in different essential positions within UAB's trauma, burns, and wound care services that are pushing medicine and patient care forward with their passion and expertise. The women featured include a surgeon, nurses, advanced practice providers, an occupational therapist assistant, a trauma registrar, and a clinical care coordinator.

UAB Women In Trauma

Sarah Ashouri, MSN, CRNP

Sarah Ashouri, MSN, CRNP

Role at UAB: Nurse Practitioner, Trauma and Burn

Years of experience: 6 years at UAB

What was your journey to your current position? "I ended up in nursing after volunteering a lot in different settings in high school. I knew I wanted to do something to help people and make their lives easier. I felt like I could make a big difference as a nurse and it has been one of the best decisions I ever made. I wouldn't change it for anything. I started as a baby nurse on TBNU in 2016, where I realized how much I loved the excitement and the challenge of trauma and burns. I have been at UAB ever since. It honestly feels like home to me. I finished my master's in 2019 and stayed on the burn team as a nurse practitioner for almost 3 years. I never thought I would find something I was so passionate about that I would never want to do anything else...so now I work part-time with trauma as a nurse practitioner on the weekends so that I can prepare to apply to medical school next cycle in hopes of becoming a burn surgeon."

What makes trauma/burn different than any other service line? "For me, trauma/burn keeps me humble. You see things you never thought you would ever see, you build relationships with patients through their darkest moments, you can dance with them when they walk the halls for the first time after a major injury...and it's beautiful. Then 5 minutes later someone curses you out for no reason and you are task with the decision of with how you respond and connect with that patient, the staff, and the situation. There is a little bit of everything here, a lot to learn, and things are always exciting."

What do you like about your job? "I like the patient population, the challenge of the injuries, and the opportunities to learn that come with it. My challenge is always managing my time between home, school, and work...I really want to give high-quality care, be a clear communicator, write great notes, and teach my nurses when I can and that causes my work to bleed into other areas of my life."

Is there a quote you live by? "In nursing, everyone is all about Florence Nightingale. I once read her quote "how very little can be done under the spirit of fear" and I wrote it all over my notebooks. I had never done anything related to healthcare before becoming a nurse (besides being one of my grandma's caretakers) and I was scared of making a mistake. I try to apply that quote to everything and use my fear to fuel my actions...if I'm scared I might make a mistake then I try to read more so I have knowledge. If I don't know what to do regarding a situation, I ask someone I think will have wisdom to help me. The goal is to never be so paralyzed by fear that it prevents me from doing the right thing."

Leah Attaway, RN, BSN

Leah Attaway, RN, BSN

Role at UAB: Trauma Clinical Care Coordinator

Years of experience: 20 years, 18 at UAB

Describe your journey to your current role. "I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but I realized how much time they spend in school and how much of their life is involved with it once they are done with school. I wanted family to be more of a priority for me. Nursing is a flexible career to have a family as well. After graduation in 2002, I worked at Shelby Baptist Medical Center in their general ICU. I thought I wanted to move away from ICU and the bedside, so I interviewed for a perioperative job at UAB. But during the interview, I admitted that I thought I needed to have more "real" experience. And they said, we'll take you right over here in Trauma. i probably would have never chosen Trauma but I guess God had a better plan for me than I did."

How do you find meaning in the trauma field? "These people are having crises moments. It's a difficult field, but it's needed. It's not for everybody. I wanted to help the people I could help. Not everyone is appreciative, but you feel that you can make a difference there, even if they don't recognize it or appreciate it at the time."

What do you like about your job? "As a bedside nurse, i enjoyed getting to work with a pattern of people - you get close to them. That type of job makes you close to people. The types of situations you're in, and having to depend on people for help because you can't do that yourself. There was a lot of camaraderies, it was like a family. In my role now, I enjoy that I have a lot of autonomy and good relationships with the physicians and patients. A lot of my role is helping people navigate life post-injury. We do anything we can do to ease things for people or give them the information or the resources they need. I'm thankful for being trusted."

What are some qualities that make for a good trauma nurse? "Persistence, being self-motivated, not being afraid of challenges, courage, having an open mind. Remember that it's not 

Is there a quote you live by? "If anything is worth doing, it's worth doing well. It's from my mother and my first-grade teacher. That's important, even in minuscule things - things that people don't see as important are important. 

Kim Barton, RN, BSN

Kim Barton, RN, BSN

Role at UAB: Trauma Registrar

Years of experience: 21 years at UAB

What was your journey to your current position? "In high school, I thought I wanted to go into forensics. As I learned more about that field I was drawn into ER and Trauma nursing. It still involves a mystery that needs to be solved and I felt like I could better help people in nursing. So from the moment I was interested in nursing, my focus has always been related to trauma nursing in some way. I was always intrigued by the energy and adrenaline of caring for emergent patients, where you could make an immediate difference. I graduated from UAB School of Nursing and got my dream job working night shift in the UAB Emergency Department, where I worked for 5 years. Then I moved up to the TBICU where I worked for 6 years before coming to the Trauma Registry about 10 years ago."

What makes trauma/burn different than any other service line? "I feel like trauma touches everyone. We are all just one accident away from being a trauma patient. It happens quickly and unexpected. Trauma nursing is an intense and challenging field but also very rewarding.  I enjoyed being able to help patients and their families during this unexpected time of need. Now as a registrar, my interaction with patients is not as direct, but I can still play a part in improving their care."

What do you like about your job? "I like to solve mysteries. I enjoy reading a chart from start to finish, trying to figure out how did they receive their injuries, what all injuries do they have and what did we do to help them.  By gathering all these details in the registry, we can improve patient care and also help with injury prevention."

Share a favorite memory on the job. "There are two patients that I took care of who still stop by to visit me once in a while. Seeing them living life to the fullest makes me happy, knowing that I played a small part in their survival and recovery. It’s a reminder that we do make a difference every day in the lives of our patients and their families."

Tywanda Coates, MSM, BSN, RN, CNML

Tywanda Coates, MSM, BSN, RN, CNML

Role at UAB: Nurse Manager - Trauma Burn Intensive Care Unit

Years of experience: 36 years at UAB

What was your journey to your current position? "I knew I wanted to be a nurse after meeting my older sister’s best friend Brenda when I as 14 years old. She had a personality that set her apart from her other friends I had met. There was just something about her. When I learned that she was a nurse, I decided that I wanted to be one too. Nursing presented an opportunity to help people during their most vulnerable time. I started out as a Nursing Assistant in 1986 when I decided to take a break from Nursing School and worked fulltime on 5SW, then when I went back to school, I worked on SICU part time until I graduated Nursing school in 1988. I started my Nursing career in SICU, worked as staff nurse for 3 years, then became the night shift Charge Nurse until the TBICU opened on JT 15, I then transferred to the TBICU where I was the night shift Charge Nurse. I interviewed and was selected as the Nurse Manager for TBICU in October 2006. I had never considered going into a leadership role other than being the night shift charge nurse. When the position became available, I felt this was a natural transition given my clinical experience, proven leadership experience and desire to make a difference."

What makes trauma/burn different than any other service line? "Trauma patients experience may have a huge emotional impact on their life and their family, which may require a large amount of emotional support both during and after hospitalization."

What do you like about your job? "One - playing an integral part in the development of new nurses. Two - my role in assisting in ensuring patients receive the high-quality patient care they deserve and need, along with finding ways to improve day to day processes. Three - seeing patients recover who you thought would not.

What is challenging about your job? "Ensuring staff know that you have their best interest at heart, as well as ensuring safe, quality patient care. And staffing, morale, retention, burnout, and hiring the right people and coaching and mentoring a diverse (different generation) team."

How do you practice self-care when you're not on the job? "I separate from work when I am off, do not answer email, but I can be reached by pager or phone if needed. I have friends outside of work, so I am not always talking about work when I'm off. I mow lots of grass and I enjoying cleaning up and organizing things around the house."



Role at UAB:  Traum Nurse Practitioner

Years of experience: 15 years, 2 at UAB

Years of experience: 15 years, 2 at UAB

What was your journey to your current position? "I grew up saying I'd never be a nurse... then I started volunteering at a pediatric oncology camp in Mobile, AL (Rap-A-Hope, look it up, it’s an amazing place! :)) during my first degree and knew this is what I was meant to do. I started out in Adult Hematology/Oncology and Adult Bone Marrow Transplant; I worked as a travel nurse for several years and then worked as a staff nurse in Boston for about 3.5 years. I decided to move back to Alabama in 2017 to be closer to family. I have a dual degree as an AGACNP and FNP, so I wanted to work with kids before I graduated. I worked in the Pediatric ICU at Children's for 4 yrs until I finished school and then started my NP career in UAB Trauma."

What is challenging about your job? "You can't just focus on what's going on inpatient. Trauma patients may need help with rehab (whether physical/mental or for addiction), may need for us to help them find a safe place to go, they may be homeless, so many different variables. It definitely takes teamwork to put all of the pieces together."

Do you think being a woman makes is particularly challenging or beneficial to have a job in trauma medicine, or both? "I love that there are  multiple female Trauma Attendings that are amazing surgeons and are great role models for future female physicians.  I think there will always be a bit of a stigma surrounding women and leadership/dominant roles, but these women continue to be bold and brazen and help forge the way for others and show just how wrong that stigma is."

What advice would you give to other women pursuing a career like yours? "Believe in yourself. Be emboldened and go for what you want. Don't let negative people hold you back. There may be a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to accomplish what you want,  but it will be worth it in the end. And lastly, people can take away a lot of things from you, but they can't take away your work ethic. To me, work ethic says so much about who you are. Never lose that."

Kimberly Hendershot, M.D., FACS

Kimberly Hendershot, M.D., FACS

Role at UAB: Trauma Surgeon, Professor, and Co-Director of UAB's Women In Surgery Program

Years of experience: 18 years as a surgeon, 15 of those in trauma/acute care surgery. 7 years at UAB.

What was your journey to your current position? "My mother is a nurse, so think I got the “medical bug” from her. In medical school I became interested in surgery during my 3rd year clerkship and 4th year rotation on trauma (trauma case of 20-ish year old female coming in after a car crash in which her arm was on the car door edge with the window rolled down; the patient had a traumatic amputation of her arm at the mid upper arm level; they brought her in 1 trauma bay and rolled her amputated arm in the trauma bay next to her; I followed her in the hospital and then saw her in our rehab center after an extensive recovery; I was hooked on trauma). As a young trauma surgeon I really enjoyed my job and teaching the med students and residents. I challenged the students and residents to find their passion in medicine and pursue it wholeheartedly. I enjoyed encouraging interest in surgery and this passion of mine was recognized by the students and residents and by my fellow faculty and departmental leaders. This started my career in surgical education, where I’ve been involved in all aspects of surgical education (med students, residents, fellows, and faculty)."

What do you like about your job and what is challenging? "I think the field of trauma, surgical critical care, and emergency general surgery is a fantastic specialty. There is such variety in patients and surgical cases—it’s never the same day twice.  From the quick-paced, high energy focus of trauma to the cerebral, detail-oriented focus in the surgical ICU to the technically-challenging demands of emergency general surgery—the field of Acute Care Surgery continually stimulates growth in your knowledge, skills, and confidence and most certainly keeps you on your toes."

How are you involved in mentoring the next generation of women in medicine? "As the co-leader for UAB’s Women In Surgery (WIS) group, I have been involved in supporting females in the surgical field at all levels. My fellow co-leader and I did a session with junior high/high school students this past summer during the students’ summer STEM camp at McWane Science Center.  We discussed our careers and why we liked being physicians and showed them they can dream big when it comes to their future career. WIS has also partnered with the UAB Heersink SOM’s Association of Women Surgeons medical student group and has planned many activities for our faculty to interact with interested female med students to encourage their interest in surgery. We have also planned networking events for surgical residents and faculty that lead to mentorship opportunities. WIS is also trying to work with the UAB Health system to promote policy changes regarding parental leave and compensation during parental leave; we have also implemented a resident lactation policy in the department as well as improving the lactation spaces in the hospitals."

How do you practice self-care when not on the job? "My family always keeps me grounded. To my kids, I’m just “Mom” and that keeps me humble. Most of my free time is spent with my kids—playing and laughing and watching them find their joys in life. My husband and I try to find time for a relaxing beach vacation every now and then and we enjoy spending time with our families and our church family."

Felicia Sanders, COTA/L

Felicia Sanders, COTA/L

Role at UAB: Acute Care Occupational Therapist Assistant

Years of experience: 30 years, 19 at UAB

What was your journey to your current position? "I knew I wanted to go into medicine after taking care of my grandmother who was suffering from cancer.  The hands-on compassion from nursing and the physicians made me envious of taking care of her just as well. Being a Candy Striper in high school; there I quickly realized that medicine was something I probably would enjoy. It is weird; but I enjoyed the smell of the hospital, along with the hustle and bustle of the nurses, doctors, and the team. I also admired a psychologist that worked in the hospital of which I volunteered.  I was able to witness her working with the patients at bedside and believed that maybe one day I would like to be a psychologist, or maybe even a psychiatrist.  But after further and careful investigation my path quickly changed due to available schooling options provided for me. I, therefore, chose a profession where I could use psychology along with giving helpful hands within medical care. During orientation at UAB and trying to pinpoint my interest in the medical field, there yield a pamphlet telling me about occupational therapy. I was hooked. I realized I had a niche with burn and trauma patients and wanted to explore, along with researching best-based practices.  Seeing this type of clientele after being interested in geriatrics posed a challenge for me.  I was up for the challenge; and from there resulted the interest for this clientele."

What makes trauma/burn different than any other service line? "It’s never boring! Every day bring on new and exciting adventures!  It challenges me in every way! I see the lives of many changing drastically through an injury.  In many cases theses injuries are out of their control. I feel I am able to provide some normalcy and a rebuilding of functional status for my patients. I love the fact that trauma is fast pace, and has its own personality. I am able to experience a wide variety of diagnoses that include: traumatic orthopedics, burn injuries, spinal cord injuries, gunshot wounds; amputations; and head injuries, to name a few. There in trauma, the team is dynamic and offer an array of personalities."

What do you like about your job? "I like the patient population, the challenge of the injuries, and the opportunities to learn that come with it. My challenge is always managing my time between home, school, and work...I really want to give high-quality care, be a clear communicator, write great notes, and teach my nurses when I can and that causes my work to bleed into other areas of my life."

Do you think being a woman in trauma is challenging or beneficial or both? "It depends heavily upon the case and situation. I feel that I have the skills to adapt to any situation especially those that pose that certain genders work/treat their injuries. Many patients may doubt my abilities due to my gender, but quickly realize I am ALL IN; UP FOR THE CHALLENGE. My outcomes speak for themselves. I have patients that will revisit me in the hospital just to say “Thank You” for being you. I feel supported by my coworkers /male and female within the world of OT."

Is there a quote you live by? "I was reminded of a certain quote that I admire just the other day that is perfect for this question…Michaela DePrince said “Take note of the simple things that touch you; because one of these simple things might very well be the simple things that can change your life.” Working with trauma patients have changed the way I look at life. I enjoy the simple things with more intensity. Love yourself daily! Laugh and smile! Let the ones you care about know how much you do!"

Julie Tyrrell, MSN, CRNP, CWCN

Julie Tyrrell, MSN, CRNP, CWCN

Role at UAB: The Lead Nurse Practitioner on the Wound Care team

Years of experience: 6 years in wound care specifically, 20 years as a nurse at UAB

What was your journey to your current position? "I have been with wound care for six years and I have been working at UAB for 20 years. I worked as a staff nurse at the General Medicine unit for 10 years, SICU for 6 years. I earned my BSN and MSN from UAB and when I finished my MSN in 2016, the wound care department was newly established and I became the first NP in the wound care team. I always want to help people and I believe that doing good and saving life is my calling. I like anything hands-on, like deal with tools. Healing wounds with proper wound care is fascinating, and I want to be a healer.  After 10 years of Med-Surg nursing, I want to advance my career, and I want to do more. Working at a Med-Surg unit, I took care of many wounds, and I learned a lot from our wound care nurses and I think wound care is very interesting."

What is special about working in trauma medicine? "Trauma is fast pace, full of excitement and variety. You will never know what trauma case comes next, and trauma patients heal faster, or die faster (unfortunately). Every trauma has its story behind, full of challenge. I work with a team of wound care nurses who are certified wound, ostomy and continent nurses. They are very talent, knowledgeable, creative and they make so many patients’ life easier. I work with inpatient wound care consult service and I like new consults every day, new challenges every day."

What is challenging about your job? "The most challenging about my job, probably, is to change old practice (outdated practice) in surgeons. I take care of a lot surgical wounds and deal with surgeons daily, and “wet-to-dry” dressing change is their “gold standard”, but “wet-to-dry” was 40s, 50s medicine, and we are in 2022 now."

Is being a woman in trauma medicine particularly beneficial, or challenging, or both? "I believe that being a woman makes it particularly challenging to have a job in trauma medicine and particularly beneficial too, because traditionally providers in trauma medicine are men, patients are used to male doctors, and currently majority trauma providers still are men; trauma happens all the time and treating trauma is a psychologically and physically demanding job, and women not just have job responsibility, also, have many more other responsibility outside of job than men. Women have to take families. Of course, biases still stand in the way for women having a career in medicine, because our society still prefer male doctors, and some patients turn to male doctors for advises. One more thing that I want to mention. Being an Asian woman as a healthcare provider is harder than a white person. I have encountered many occasions that a white patient refused my care just because of my skin color. I am so grateful to work with Dr. Vander Noot and he always stands by me and supports me."

What is your favorite memory from your job? "My favorite memory on the job was about one of our patient. He was a kidney transplant patient and he developed very bad infection to his legs and we used advanced wound care therapy to heal his leg wounds. His surgeons told him only option was amputation. One day we met him in the hallway, and he was on his way to the clinic, he was so happy and said” I still have my legs!” I really like my job (wound care), healing wounds give me satisfaction."