Dr. Hopkins brings diverse interests in the arts and the sciences to her career in medicine. In her dual roles as assistant professor of surgery at New York University and attending surgeon at Bellevue Hospital Center-New York University Medical Center, she tries to instill in medical students and residents what it means to be a caring and compassionate physician.
Mary Ann Hopkins took the classical route to becoming a physicianby way of a master's degree in history and philosophy of medicine from King's College, Cambridge University. During her undergraduate years at Harvard, where she majored in classics (and graduated with high honors as a member of Phi Beta Kappa), she spent the summers of 1982, 1983, and 1984 working alongside her younger sister as a volunteer in the orphanages of southern India and Somalia. "My experiences [there] kept coming back into my thoughts," she recalls. "We had accompanied the children to the hospitals, lived in the special care center for physically, mentally, and emotionally challenged children, and some even died in our arms."
After earning her M.D. at Harvard Medical School in 1992, Dr. Hopkins took up a surgery residency at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center from 1992 to 1997, a fellowship in laparoscopic surgery at the Institute for Minimally Invasive Surgery at White Plains, New York from 1997 to 1998, and was attending surgeon and assistant director of laparoscopic surgery at Staten Island University Hospital from 1998 to 1999.
Though her humanities education is now an enriching backdrop to her career as a surgeon, she continues to seek ways to integrate all her interests in her work. In her role as an assistant professor of surgery at New York University Medical Center since 1999, she strives to teach as much by example as by course curriculum: "I try to instill in the medical students and residents what it means to be a compassionate and caring physician example. I also try to show them that stereotypes no longer have a place in surgerythat you can enjoy modern dance and performance art and know nothing about sportsand still be a 'typical' surgeon." She has worked with Doctors Without Borders in Burundi in 1999 and Sri Lanka in 1996, in a war zone where she was the sole surgeon in a population of 500,000.
Though still only in her fourth year of practice, Dr. Hopkins is determined to combine her diverse experiences and education into a career that will make a difference: "My two major interests are in medical education and international health care, and I see them as two integral parts of a whole." Dr. Hopkins encourages medical students and residents to see that the "macho" surgeon is an outdated stereotype and that today's best doctors include people with a broad range of interests and talents. She volunteers with Doctors Without Borders, both as a surgeon and as a public speaker, to help raise awareness of global health care needs.