Maria Troulis, DDS, MSc, FACS is the Chief of the Department of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery (OMFS) at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is also the Walter C. Guralnick Professor and Chair of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Harvard School of Dental Medicine. She received the A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award from Harvard Medical School. In 2005, she received recognition in the Local Legends National Library of Medicine - Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Female Physicians by Congressman Michael Capuano.
Describe your journey into healthcare. What do you love about science and medicine?
My parents emigrated from Greece in the 1950’s. My mother taught me the importance of a solid education. I was encouraged to work hard and do well in school as a means of achieving success later in life.
Around the age of 6, I decided that I wanted to be a doctor. I had no mentors and at times there were attempts to discourage me from a medical career. In high school I excelled in math and science. I studied Anatomy and Histology as an undergraduate at McGill. Although I started off as a pre-med student , I loved the flexibility and the artistic component of dentistry. Having a passion for head and neck anatomy, I quickly decided that I wanted to be an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Despite the fact that ablative surgery did not suit my personality, I initially thought I would go into head/neck oncology. However, I subsequently decided to go into the reconstruction field because of the hope it provides to patients. A dear friend and former patient taught me, “Patients wear their pathology on their face, they cannot hide it.”
How long have you worked at Mass General?
I have worked at Mass General since 1997 when I arrived as a Fellow under the tutelage of Dr. Leonard Kaban. Mass General quickly became “home”. I love the people, my colleagues, the trainees, the patients, and the work we do.
Have you encountered any challenges on your journey as a woman and if so, how did you overcome them?
There are many challenges to being a female surgeon. Of note, I was the first female resident in the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery program at McGill. To date females make up only 6% of all Oral Surgeons in North America. I have come to realize that a female surgeon can "have it all." I have a great career at a fantastic institution, a great husband and two gorgeous boys whom I love more than anything!
I believe that any person, regardless of their background, race, or gender can achieve their goal through patience, persistence and hard work. I hope to serve as a role model for the next generation of surgeons that it is possible to balance one’s professional and personal life!