University of California San Francisco

Dr. Stephanie Wong

Dr. Stephanie Wong Spotlight

Interview with Dr. Stephanie Wong performed by medical student Kaitlyn Julian. Dr. Wong is an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at UCSF who cares for athletes of all ages with hip, knee or shoulder injuries.

Dr. Wong earned her medical degree at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, graduating with election to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. She completed a residency in orthopedic surgery at UCSF, where she received an award for going above and beyond to create wonderful experiences and excellent care for patients and their families. She also completed a fellowship in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center. One of Wong's passions is inspiring young women to pursue careers in orthopedic surgery. She also has served as team doctor for high school football teams in the Bay Area and Chicago, and as an assistant team doctor for the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bulls and Chicago Steel.


Kaitlyn Julian MS1: What is one thing you know now that you wish you had known during training?

Dr. Stephanie Wong: One thing that I wish I had known during training was that the journey on this career of orthopedic surgery is just as hard as everybody says it's going to be on some days. However, the support that's out there for you is real. There's a lot of women who have walked this path for us. I think if I could tell my former self anything, it is that there are a lot of people out there who have gone through what we've gone through so look for them, reach out and ask for help - they're there to support you.


Kaitlyn Julian MS1: Who do you admire?

Dr. Stephanie Wong: Someone I admire a lot in the field of orthopedics is one of my medical school mentors Dr. Michelle James. She is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Shriners in Northern California and she's one of the first people I met and talked to about my interest in orthopedics. She looked at me and said if that's what you want to do, go for it. She told me that there were women who have blazed this path before and had tried to make the road easier for me - women such as herself and her colleagues. I felt immediately included, even as an early medical student. I also admire the way she leads. She is soft-spoken, but she carries a lot of power with that. She has a lot of influence behind her words and actions, and I really look up to her for those things.


Kaitlyn Julian MS1: What impact has mentorship had on your surgical career?

Dr. Stephanie Wong: I think it's been everything. I’ve been really lucky to have a lot of both men and women who have mentored me on this path towards orthopedics. The fact that they believed in me, gave me opportunities to do research with them, scrub into my first surgical cases, and take me under their wing and support me was really important. Mentors are out there and for some of us it's easier because we're surrounded by people who look like us or around others who have gone through what we've gone through before and are willing to put themselves out there for support. For example, I was looking for female mentors. I know a lot of us at UCSF are surrounded by women. Whereas students at other institutions may not have mentors that look like them or that they can relate to as much. For those individuals, there are some great national organizations. I’m a part of the Ruth Jackson Orthopedic Society and through them, I've connected with some medical students at other institutions who maybe don't have home ortho programs or females in their home programs. At UCSF I think we're lucky, but others can look outside of your institution as well for sources of mentorship and support.


Kaitlyn Julian MS1: If not surgery, then what?

Dr. Stephanie Wong: Ah that's a great question, I think I would really enjoy baking. Of course as a surgeon, I value precision and order, so I think that recipes for baking really tie into my desire for organization and precision. I also love eating desserts and have a huge sweet tooth so the bonus would be that after baking I could try it.


Kaitlyn Julian MS1: I am the same way! I have a separate stomach just for desserts. What is the best piece of advice you have received?

Dr. Stephanie Wong: The best piece of advice I have probably received is to try your best. For example, if you have a list of things you want to accomplish one day and you only are able to get through half that list, but you tried your best that day, that's okay. Life throws at us different challenges, obstacles, and opportunities. Try your best for all those things, and as long as you put your best effort forward I think that's what matters the most. In training, you might run into a busy night of consults or different fracture reductions, maybe difficult patient interactions or challenging patient comorbidities or circumstances, and I think you just you just try your best for your patients and those around you. I think that's all you can really ask for yourself. As women, we tend to be very critical of ourselves. We can feel like we have not done enough for our family, for our friends, for our patients, for colleagues, for everybody around us. We're always saying yes to everything. I think sometimes you just need to do your best for that day or that moment, and if that's all you can do, then be satisfied with your effort.


Kaitlyn Julian MS1: I think that is really important. I appreciate you sharing that with us. What are you most proud of personally and professionally?

 Dr. Stephanie Wong: Personally, I am proud of the relationships I have with my family and friends. I tend to be extroverted, but I am close with probably just a small handful of people. I think that really fostering those relationships and maintaining those despite a busy career and many busy years of training is really important. Those people keep me grounded, otherwise I would probably talk about orthopedic surgery all day! They remind me that there's more important things out there in the world and are also constant sources of support as well as balance. Professionally I am most proud of the care that I provide to patients both operatively and nonoperatively. Even though I may not be doing surgery for someone that has a non-operative condition, I can educate them about their problem, give them options to help them stay active and minimize their pain. If they can get better through that, even if it's not with surgery, that makes me really happy and proud that I was able to help them through that.


Kaitlyn Julian MS1: What inspires you to do orthopedic sports medicine?

Dr. Stephanie Wong: One of the main reasons why I went into this field is because I really love to see patients getting back to the activities they want.  For example, a young athlete getting back to playing soccer or somebody getting back skiing recreationally or a grandma being able to get back to gardening - those are all activities that make those people happy.  I like to watch my patients get back to what they like to do and that's what makes me come to work every day.


Kaitlyn Julian MS1: What are your hobbies outside the hospital?

Dr. Stephanie Wong:  I have a one-and-a-half-year-old Polish Lowland Sheep dog, his name is Kibo. He has definitely been both a hobby and a commitment. He is goofy, lovable and he just brings a smile to my face every time I walk through the door. He has certainly been one of my hobbies and we frequent many dog parks in San Francisco. I mentioned this earlier, I also really love eating desserts and I love skiing. I grew up skiing in Lake Tahoe and try to get up as much as I can, although the seasons are shorter and shorter nowadays.


Kaitlyn Julian MS1: What is your favorite drink?

Dr. Stephanie Wong: I’ve only had this once and I crave it all the time. I don't know when the next time I'm going to be able to have it...When I was visiting Hong Kong, a few years ago and we went to this just amazing Thai restaurant. We were sitting on these little, tiny stools and I ordered a passion fruit mango blended drink. It was just the most amazing combination of fresh fruit and ice on a hot summer day, and it was amazing. I don't know how to make it myself, but I would love to have that again and again.


Kaitlyn Julian MS1: That sounds so good. Okay, this is the last question... what is a question that you wish more people would ask you?

Dr. Stephanie Wong: This is not really a question, but I do love when patients will tell me about how they are or their family members are interested in a career in medicine or career in surgery. I've occasionally had my adult patients mention to me that their daughters are interested in surgery, and how they were really excited to be meeting with an orthopedic surgeon who is a woman. So it's not really a question, I guess, but that really makes me excited. It makes me feel like beyond the influence I have taking care of patients day to day, inspired to think that I have an additional impact on people not just taking care of their musculoskeletal problem but also potentially influencing what them and their friends or family members think as possible in terms of becoming a female surgeon, in a very male dominated specialty.


Kaitlyn Julian MS1: That's truly amazing. Thank you so much, sincerely.