Esteemed colon-rectal surgeon Ernestine Hambrick, MD, FACS, will receive the Dr. Mary Edwards Walker Inspiring Women in Surgery Award during Convocation tonight.
Throughout her long and distinguished career, Dr. Hambrick earned many firsts. A few of those include being the first woman Diplomate of the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery, the first woman on the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) executive council, and the first woman vice-president of the ASCRS and its research foundation.
Dr. Hambrick also is the first colon-rectal surgeon to receive the Inspiring Women in Surgery Award and the first Chicago-based surgeon to be honored.
She has been an active supporter of women in surgery, especially in colon-rectal surgery, and her leadership, mentorship, and commitment to advancing women surgeons continues to thrive. The women’s group within ASCRS that she helped to create now has an annual networking luncheon with more than 200 attendees.
Many of the women surgeons Dr. Hambrick has touched—directly and indirectly—have ascended to leadership positions within surgery and continue to make significant contributions to the surgical community.
In addition, Dr. Hambrick embodied the spirit of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker in her creation of the STOP Colon/Rectal Cancer Foundation. During her career and from the personal experience of losing her only brother to colon cancer, Dr. Hambrick recognized that most colon-rectal cancers could be prevented with screenings.
“It became clear to me that nobody needed to lose a brother like that. Nobody needed to lose a father or mother,” Dr. Hambrick recalled. “We knew how to prevent colon cancer. But that knowledge was new knowledge, and it needed to be disseminated not only through the medical profession, but also in the public domain.”
Dr. Hambrick left her practice after 25 years as a colon-rectal surgeon to lead STOP Colon/Rectal Cancer Foundation, advocating tirelessly for the eradication of colon and rectal cancer and helping in having March designated as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The STOP Colon/Rectal Cancer Foundation closed after 10 years of work because it had achieved much of its mission to promote public awareness, preventative screening, early detection, and healthy lifestyle choices.
Born in the small town of Griffin, GA, Dr. Hambrick knew at an early age that she wanted to be a physician. When she was 4 years old, she fell and cut her eyelid; a short encounter with a local physician left a lasting impression.
She completed her MD degree at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and her general surgery residency and colon and rectal surgery fellowship at Cook County Hospital. Afterward, she joined the staff at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL, and established a private practice at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, also in Chicago.
Dr. Hambrick served the last 8 years of her career as a hospice physician, providing care to patients and families in their greatest time of need. She is now retired and resides in Stanley, VA, near childhood friends.
The Inspiring Women in Surgery Award is named in honor of Mary Edwards Walker, MD, the first female surgeon employed by the US Army, the only female recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, and a tireless crusader for women’s rights.