Meet this week’s #WomanCrushWednesday, Dr. Kyla Shelton, MD, a vascular surgeon who recently returned home to Little Rock from University of Cincinnati to join the vascular team at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). She is the first and only female vascular surgeon in the state of Arkansas.
Name: Kyla R. Shelton, MD, MS, RPVI
Specialty: Vascular Surgery
Undergraduate education: University of Central Arkansas
Graduate education: University of Central Arkansas
Medical school: UAMS
Hometown: DeWitt, AR
Tell us about yourself? I was born and raised in DeWitt, AR. I always knew I wanted to be a surgeon. My dad is a diesel/tractor mechanic and when I was a kid, he gave me my first “hemodynamics” lecture when he was explaining to me how you have to have pressure to have flow in some engine hydraulic thing. I got my BS in biology at UCA and then MS with an emphasis in molecular biology at UCA. I went to medical school at UAMS. I got interested in vascular surgery during medical school while working in a lab for a vascular surgeon here at UAMS. We were studying the pathophysiology of abdominal aortic aneurysms in mice. When I applied for the integrated vascular surgery residency, there were only 19 positions in the US and I matched here at UAMS. I completed my vascular surgery residency in 2015. I have spent the past two years practicing vascular surgery at the University of Cincinnati. I just got back to UAMS last month and I am happy to be back. I met my husband in medical school and we were married during residency. He is almost done with his urogynocology fellowship. We had two kids during our two years in Cincinnati. My son is 2.5 years old and my daughter is 15 months old.
What are some fun facts about you?
- I did not get into medical school the first time and now I am the first and only female vascular surgeon in the state of Arkansas
- I was on a shooting team in high school.
- I DON’T do snot! It is my husband’s job to handle our kids’ snot.
What do you love about surgery? Your field?
I love surgery for the same reasons everyone else does. As for vascular surgery, I like that many times it is not straight forward. There are multiple medical and surgical options in treating vascular disease and you have to pick what is best for that patient, whether it is endovascular (like stenting) or open surgery (like bypasses). These patients also tend not to be the healthiest (diabetes, smokers, etc), so that adds another level of complexity. Vascular surgery is just awesome! There’s nothing like a 9 cm abdominal aortic aneurysm thumping in your face during surgery or like putting a clamp on the carotid artery that feeds the brain while you clean out the gunk in the artery.
Did you have a career before medical school? Just a career student.
What brought you to LR? This is home. And it is a chance to give back to the state that gave me so many opportunities.
What do you like to do when you’re not at the hospital? Eat, travel, wine/beer…the usual.
Do you have some WISE words for women who want to become surgeons?
It is very important for women to be supportive of each other. We tend to be each other’s worst and harshest critic. It is also good to recognize the gender discrepancies in surgery. This allows you to arm yourself with the tools you need to become successful and advance your career. However, it is just as important not to dwell on those discrepancies. This can have a negative effect on all the hard work you have done and be counterproductive.
Lastly, get exposed to surgery early! Anyone interested in vascular surgery please email me or come by my office. You can do some shadowing, get involve in research, etc. There is also a student organization within the Society of Vascular Surgery and they give out scholarships every year to students to pay for them to attending the national meeting.