Virginia Ann Ward M.D.
I knew I wanted to become a surgeon by the time I was eight years old. However, girls interested in medicine and growing up in small South Carolina towns were not encouraged to become doctors any more than men were encouraged to become midwives. So, like most of my female peers, I compromised, and when I attended Clemson University, I studied nursing instead of medicine. I graduated in 4 years with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. Thus began my first career.
As a registered nurse for seven years, I enjoyed a very successful and informative career in this profession. I learned a lot about taking care of sick people and especially enjoyed nursing complicated surgical wounds. During my tenure as the head nurse at the Emory Clinic Department of Plastic Surgery, I at last received support about becoming a surgeon, a desire that had always stayed close to my heart. Finally, I applied to medical school and was accepted at my first choice, the Emory University School of Medicine, a school with a reputation for superior medical education.
I graduated from medical school in 1989. Once again, because of my gender, I was not encouraged to pursue a career in surgery, and especially discouraged to apply to the more competitive training programs that offered a combination of training in general and plastic surgery. There were 13 such positions in the country and I landed one of them at the most challenging residency programs in the US: the combined surgery and plastic surgery residency in New Orleans at Louisiana State University. One of the most heartwarming aspects of this was that my childhood hero who inspired me to become a doctor when I was eight years old also trained at the same program at Charity Hospital.
Five years of surgical training passed so quickly. During my residency, I specialized in micro-surgery, which often involved many long uninterrupted hours in the operating room. Luckily, I noticed that in the operating room, time ceased to exist. Many questioned how one could stay in surgery for 10-15 hours at a time but I seriously never noticed the time passing. I had found my true calling in life and every hour was one of sheer contentment and concentration.
I chose to open my private practice in St. Petersburg, Florida because of my love for warm weather, beautiful surrounding waters, and the opportunity to play tennis 12 months a year. I love being outside when I am not working. I bike, kayak, walk, watch nature and play tennis. I am married and have three cats and a salt water aquarium. I am a student of the French language and vacation in France with my husband annually. I also love to ski in the winter. The best thing about this last sporting activity is that I always know in advance just how many cold days for which to prepare.
Recently, I relocated my practice to the Clinique of Plastic Surgery. This represents for me the most exciting change in my 10 years in private practice. I am so happy to have moved to a progressive, innovative and stimulating environment. These facilities are elegant and a reflection of the esthetic objectives that I have pursued as a plastic surgeon. We have so many more services to offer my patients including a laser center, an advanced skin center with several skin care lines, our own AAAA certified operating room as well as a recovery room which provides one on one nursing care to every post operative patient.