Association for Women in Communications honors Dr. Katrina Mitchell
Dr. Katrina Mitchell has been recognized for her work to advocate for women’s health.
She recently received the Lois Phillips Founder’s Award during the Association for Women in Communications Santa Barbara holiday gathering.
Dr. Mitchell is a breast surgeon, lactation consultant and perinatal mental health provider at Sansum Clinic and Ridley-Tree Cancer Center.
“I am very honored to receive an award from an organization that celebrates women in communication,” Dr. Mitchell told the News-Press. “The key to improving health care for all women is having venues to connect, collaborate, and communicate.”
Dr. Mitchell explained what this award means to her. “It means that I brought attention to unmet needs in our community. Professionals of all different backgrounds are coming together to address gaps in our current women’s healthcare and roadmap a plan for improvement in the future.”
Dr. Mitchell was a history major in college and did her senior honors thesis on the topic of involuntary sterilization of Native American women in the 1970s. This investigation into women’s reproductive justice and bodily autonomy led her to work after college at a women’s public health clinic in Philadelphia.
After that experience, she knew that she wanted to go to medical school and focus on women’s health.
During clinical rotations, she fell in love with surgery. When she was doing research in Tanzania, during her surgery residency, she came back to women’s health and decided to do additional specialty training in breast surgery.
The News-Press asked Dr. Mitchell how she hopes to continue the fight for women’s health.
She said she received great feedback from the community on her commentary in a local publication and decided to follow up on that by creating the Santa Barbara Women’s Health Coalition. She organized the coalition’s first meeting.
“It has taken off from there thanks to the involvement and leadership of very talented women in this town who have far more experience with project development than I do!” Dr. Mitchell said.
“The physical and mental health needs of women are unique and can be challenging to manage for patients and physicians alike,” she said. “ I like the multifaceted aspects of caring for women and treating the whole person (and sometimes the family, too), rather than just doing an operation or prescribing a medication.”
Dr. Mitchell spoke of how she is actively making advances in women’s health and making healthcare more accessible in Santa Barbara: “We need a large-scale development plan that addresses everything from the cost of living and housing to identifying where the largest and most urgent gaps exist. There are many of us individually who seek to provide exceptional care to women, but we haven’t previously had the venue to communicate and collaborate. Individuals can fill voids temporarily, but creating a women’s healthcare system is the goal in sustainability.”
“I want to continue to be a voice for improving our system of care locally and providing care myself to women in need at various junctures in their reproductive life cycle. I absolutely love my day-to-day work as a surgeon, but I recognize it’s also my responsibility to use the platform I have to advocate for creating sustainable change.”