If She Can See It, She Can Be It!


Girl Scouts get a behind the scenes look at being an orthopedic trauma surgeon

Have you ever had the chance to try on a real surgical gown? How about participate in a hands-on lesson with artificial bones used to repair injuries? Troop 3109 in Topeka, Kansas got a crash course in life in the operating room during a troop meeting with a local surgeon this fall.  Dr. Shaun Steeby, a female orthopedic trauma surgeon (a doctor who repairs bones, especially bad breaks and replacements), led a discussion on bones, what life is like as a doctor and how exciting it is to be a woman in a STEM field.

“Dr. Steeby is the first female, non-gynecological surgeon to join Stormont-Vail Hospital and the first orthopedic trauma surgeon to work in Topeka.  She was very excited to talk to the girls to empower them and show them that in a man’s world, girls can do anything,” Jaime Ralston, a Girl Scout mom who is also a surgical technician and educator said.

Hosted in a Washburn Institute of Technology Surgical Tech Classroom, the troop was surrounded by educational surgical beds, lights and equipment. The meeting began with a quick discussion on the skeletal system, how a surgeon fixes broken bones and Q&A time for the Girl Scouts. Dr. Steeby brought along artificial bones that are used in surgeries and gave Troop 3109 the chance to hold the bones and learn about their function. Talk about a fun way to learn about anatomy!

IMG_6519The adult volunteers and Dr. Steeby showed the girls where each artificial bone would go in their body. During this exercise, the troop was able to ask questions and explore the human body in a hands-on activity. Cadette Ashlyn, who may want to be a cardiac surgeon said, “my favorite part was getting to hold the bones and see where they go. That was really cool.” Because of Girl Scouts, young girls like Ashlyn get unique opportunities to engage with women in a STEM career that inspires her!

During the discussion, Dr. Steeby talked about overcoming one of the most difficult parts of becoming a surgeon – having faith in yourself.  “There were days when people told me I couldn’t do it, or that I wasn’t good enough. By struggling through those moments I get to go to work every day, help people and have an awesome time,” Dr. Steeby said.

After learning the ins and outs of life as a doctor and the human body, it was time for these mini-surgeons learn how to “scrubbing in” for surgery. This is the rigorous processes a surgical team goes through to ensure the operating room is as clean as possible before operating on a patient. For almost an hour the girls went step-by-step through the process with Dr. Steeby and Jaime, who held them to the highest standards. At the end of the exercise, the troop was dressed in surgical gowns, caps, goggles, gloves, shoe covers and face masks like a real surgical team. Dr. Steeby also made sure the girls remembered to keep their hands above their waists as they walked, just like real surgeons!


We love seeing inspiring leaders dedicate their time to empowering girls. Dr. Steeby is an impressive surgeon who’s making a real difference in medical care in Topeka. “Prior to [Dr. Steeby] coming to Stormont-Vail hospital, we had to send all Level 1 traumas, like multiple fractures and pelvic fractures, to KU Medical Center because no one here could do the surgeries. We brought her in and now we are getting to help people right here in Topeka,” Jaime said.

Engaging with girls is important to Dr. Steeby because she believes girls need to see that it’s possible to do anything you have a passion for. “It’s easy for girls to be intimidated by things like drills, saws, bones and blood, and there are so many men in this field that [girls] don’t always feel like they can penetrate the industry. As a woman, I’ve run into barriers, but realistically, most of the barriers were more in my head than actually there,” Dr. Steeby said.

What amazing experiences girls are able to have through Girl Scouts! We thank volunteers like Dr. Shaun Steeby, Jamie Ralston and troop leader Cheryl Fewell for making a difference in the lives of girls. You are helping us empower the leaders of tomorrow. If you have a story about an amazing volunteer, or would like to share your thoughts about Troop 3109’s awesome experience, comment below!

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