Photo: Mackenzie Stroh

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The Collaborator
Tracy S. Wang, MD
39, Milwaukee

Occupation: Associate professor of surgery, Department of Surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin

What sparks her mettle: Years of preparation

"For a surgeon, confidence is about falling back on your training. I've gone through years of study, asked my teachers a thousand questions, and worked on some complicated cases, so I know I can trust my judgment to carry me. But I also get confidence from the patient. She counts on me to make the right decisions. We may have several conversations about how things could go—and she still shows up on the day of the surgery because she's sure I know what's best. Of course, sometimes I don't. I often consult with colleagues to get another perspective. But there are a lot of surgeons who, if they're not sure of something, won't ask for help, and to me those are the ones who are actually the least confident. Self-doubt is not the worst thing, even in medicine. If you rise to the challenge, even if you're worrying the whole time, you prove something to yourself. And when the opportunity comes around again, you know you're ready."


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